Welcome to Freelance Friday! Each Friday, I’ll share something Freelance-y that I learned during the week that will help other freelancers or entertain cubicle-queens. Thanks for reading!
So, this is it, huh? I made it 9 months as a freelance writer and content shop and I’ve finally hit the wall.
Have you hit the wall? It’s that point in your small business where you’ve pivoted & ducked & scraped through…. only to find yourself up against a problem that needs a little more thinking and a little less hustling.
Hustle Only Goes So Far
There are several different kinds of writers in the world of writing. Some of them never want for work, some of them always have enough work, and some of them can never get enough.
From what I can tell, here’s how that works out:
- Writers who will never want for work are low-quality, “pump out the SEO words” writers who fill content mills and take $5 blog posts. If that’s you, I apologize if you’re offended, but I’ve come across tons of ads for your kind of work and I can send them to you if you want.
- Writers who always have enough work are relatively well-niched in their field of choice putting out features, blog posts, or copy for mid-range websites and brands. They’re always on the hunt for the next client, but if business dries up they can hustle their way through to keep the business alive.
- Finally, writers who can never get enough work (in my opinion) are writers who care deeply about the written word and using it to communicate, inform, and entertain. And that is the topic of this post.
There are exceptions: excellent writers who have to turn away work. Low-cost writers who love what they do. But I’m not here to talk about exceptions, I’m here to talk about you and me. When you want to be a good, strong writer who writes about a lot of different things, eventually you hit a wall.
Growing and Pivoting Against “Dedicating Your Life”
I love what I do. I write about all kinds of things in all kinds of formats. When the magazine (or online publication) feature pops up, it’s a lot of fun for me to flex all of my research, interview, and writing skills, and crank it out. Lately I’ve been in love with white papers. Before that it was landing page copy.
But lately I’ve been bumping up against a little glass ceiling that didn’t realize existed. And that is: the line between being the expert and sharing your opinion through decent writing and being the good writer and sharing an idea through fantastic research.
Here’s some interesting wording I received back from a query a few weeks ago:
We are looking for someone who has made career and job search advice the focus of their professional career (career counselors, etc). Rather than look for great writers (which it looks like you are!), we look for great career experts who also happen to be able to write.
Sometimes I think I might want to position myself as a career expert and write on career topics full time. But does that mean I need to go back to school for a degree in Human Resources Management and publish a few books before I’m allowed to write on the topic a an expert’s pay rate? Maybe.
But what are the odds all of these publishers will be able to find “a career expert who also happens to be able to write.” That seems to set me (and writers like me) up for ghostwriting or nothing. And I don’t know that I’m ready to commit myself to those two options.
It seems like everyone wants you to write a book and get a few degrees in a topic before they crank out the big bucks. And maybe that’s the only thing worth paying the big bucks for. But it’s still frustrating to realize it.
Maybe this is just a part of the freelance writer’s identity crisis, or maybe it’s an opportunity to flex my business muscles and find a solution.