From time to time, I see articles with resources for freelance writers, or freelance writer tips. The odd thing is that often the advice is not only not useful, but kind of wrong. It strikes me that the reason for this is not inaccuracy per se, but a assumption that the target audience is a certain type of freelance writer. As such, the advice may be in applicable to other types of freelance writers.
In my mind, the first step in clearing up this particular ambiguity is to delve into the various kinds of freelance writers. This, of course, is no way scientific, or agreed upon in the freelance community, but I think it will prove useful here on this particular freelance writing blog, and perhaps down the line as well.
Different Types of Freelance Writers
- The One-Client Freelancer – Many articles that apply to this type of freelancer apply to no other, and vice versa. The one-client freelancer, has, as the name suggests, just one client. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, good, steady work, is good steady work. However, everything about marketing, or dealing with several clients, or keeping track of assignments and invoicing really doesn’t apply here.
- The Main-Client Freelancer – Similar to the one-client freelancer, the main-client freelancer has a single client that matters more than other clients. Often, this client will not provide a full scale of work, and therefore must be supplemented by other clients. In this case, ideas about marketing, expanding the business, and the like are bound to be applicable, but always tempered with the idea that one client must come before the others. In many ways, this freelancer is a one-client freelancer with side projects.
- The “Standard” Freelancer – Maybe I just consider this standard because it is the type most familiar to me. On the other hand, I think if you asked random people, this type of freelance writer is what most people envision when they think of a freelance writer. The standard freelancer builds (or has built) a stable of clients. Some are one and done, but many a regular clients, or at least repeat clients. This freelancer has a mix of clients who want product on a recurring basis (every month, or twice a week), as well as those who have repeating if not scheduled business. (We need something this month, but then not again until fall…) Side work, or fill-in work comes from those who are new clients, or those who have only sporadic work. This type of freelancer has a full (or getting there) workload, but continues to market and find new clients because there is always room to squeeze someone in. Keeping track of projects and invoices is critical to this freelancer.
- The One-Off Freelancer – There are plenty of ways to run a railroad, and plenty of ways to run a freelance writing business. For this type of freelancer, repeating clients are either not to be had (yet?) or are not welcome. After all, the greatest possible freedom for a freelancer is the ability to say yes, or no, on a whim. However, this model is probably rather difficult to sustain. Chances are, unless this freelancer has stability from somewhere else, this model results in wild swings in income, workload and satisfaction. This freelancer most definitely can benefit from writing business strategies about getting new clients, time management and organization.
- The New (or Struggling) Freelancer – This freelancer doesn’t have enough work yet. While they most certainly need ways to organize and track assignments and invoices, their main focus is on marketing and finding new work. Advice pertaining to thinning client lists, or otherwise dealing with overload don’t apply. Tips on building and increasing business are paramount.
- Side Business Freelancer – This freelancer has a “real” job, or other responsibilities such as being a work at home parent. This freelancer considers their work a side occupation to what they really do. Extra income is nice, but doesn’t necessarily need to pay the mortgage. This freelancer probably cares more about the craft and management of the writing business, than on ways to grow and expand. The exception is the side business freelancer looking to make the jump to full-time freelancer. In some ways, the latter would be the one person that would benefit from everything.
Going forward, I hope to use these thumbnail sketches to make sure my writing tips and advice pertain across the board, or at least be able to target it to the right groups of people.
Are you a freelance writer?
Where do you think you fit in, or have I missed you entirely?