5 Myths About Freelance Copywriting Busted
It's not really clear when the freelancing movement officially took off, but one thing is for sure: Everyone wants to become a freelancer these days. Like most people who started freelancing, I was more or less pushed into it. Becoming a freelance writer had always been an unrealistic dream - nothing I took very seriously.
As freelancers go, I am among a very rare breed. I have joined the reclusive bunch known as the "nomadic freelancer." It sounds romantic at first: traveling the world, staying in cheap "rent-rooms," working when and how I please, and enjoying freedom. Yet, with freedom comes more self-responsibility.
But we're not here to talk about the nomadic freelancer life. We're here to discuss five myths surrounding freelancing that often times misleads those who have yet entered the ranks. So, let's jump right in and see where we end up.
Myth Number 1: Freelancers Make Their Own Hours
Way before I actually started working as a freelancer, I always heard these amazing stories of men and women who were making six-figure incomes working as freelancers. Whether it was web design, search engine optimization, graphic design, or other types of remote-capable work, these people would sell their present life as some sort of cake walk. And, usually, that is exactly what they are trying to do: Sell you something.
Mostly, these types are trying to sell some kind of product or book that promises you freedom and, of course, astounding riches beyond your wildness dreams. All you have to do is post a question to Quora about how to become a successful freelancer to see how many people answer the question with a link to their own site - a site which, in the end, is trying to sell you something they claim got them where they are today.
These folks are the freelancers who have a very entrepreneurial mindset. They weren't happy simply doing what they love and making okay money while doing it. These are people who all of the sudden realized that freelancing is actually a marketable business in and of itself. Look at the shared office space trend that specifically caters to the freelancing culture. Without freelancers, there would be no shared offices.
Most of us become freelancers, not for the money, not really, but for freedom. But, as we all know, freedom is subjective. What I find liberating others may find hampering. Some people shudder at the thought of working as a freelancer, and they never would dare to stop their daily grind at the office or where ever it is they work. For me, on the other hand, I would never, ever give up freelancing for a normal job, no matter how hard the struggle is.
And that's just it: working as a freelancer is a constant struggle to find new clients, grow your business, learn new tricks, and get better than the freelancer next to you. It has gotten to the point where I am working far more than those who work normal jobs. While they are driving home, kicking their feet up, and watching a movie or two before they go to bed, I am still up, working on my next project and constantly thinking where the next money will come from.
Furthermore, it's not simply about when and where the next meal ticket will come, but how can I increase the value of my work so that I can actually work less for more. This is why those entrepreneurial freelancers - the ones who want to sell you their amazing get-rich-in-30-days-being-a-freelancer product - go that route in the first place. All of us freelancers, with the exception of the true starving artists, are looking for a way to capitalize on our knowledge and experience.
Once you walk out that office for good and step into the world of freelancing, forget about a social life; forget about weekends off; forget about leaving the house, for that matter.
You have to remember that any career, no matter if you're working for a corporation or working as a freelancer, you have to pay your dues. It takes years to build your name. Not only that, but you have to keep gaining knowledge and updating your strategy to fit with today's market. Therefore, not only are you working long hours to pay the bills, but you are also educating yourself on a consistent basis in order to keep ahead of the Wolfpack.
Myth Number 2: Other Freelancers Care
There is this prevailing notion that all of us freelancers are somehow connected by the Force. And while entrepreneurial "freelancers" attempt to sell themselves as benevolent gurus who want to teach you how to tap into that Force, the fact is, they could care less whether you succeed or not. They just want more followers and to sell more of what they're preaching. Additionally, what they're selling is usually outdated and worn out.
The freelancing industry, whether you feel it yet or not, is a very cutthroat business. With nearly 53 million people doing freelance work in the United States alone (that's like 53 million little businesses), competition is fierce and unrelenting, to say the least. And the stakes are even higher for those who don't really have anything backing them, such as funding for advertising, making a website and purchasing valuable tools, such as software.
If you are a poor freelancer (someone who lost their job and basically got pushed into freelancing), you must compete against those who have more money and better tools. Freelancing is just like any other business: there is marketing, website building, making connections within your chosen field, paying for this, paying for that. For some single parent with little money, this can become a disheartening realization.
And just like in the regular business world, you're not going to see other freelancers, no matter how successful, and no matter how nice they seem, bending over backward to guide you along the way. It would be like Pepsi lending a helping hand to some no-name startup soda company simply out of kindness and love for humanity. If they did offer anything, it would be to buy them out so they don't have to worry about competition later on down the line.
Myth Number 3: There Is Too Many Freelancers
You can go online and read articles about how the freelancing industry is flooded. These articles will explain how fierce the competition is. For the most part, they are correct. But to say there are too many freelancers to even bother - this isn't really true.
First, we have to understand why the freelancing trend exploded in the first place. One of the reasons was because of the economic downturn that occurred in 2008 and seems to continue affecting many Americans today. The second reason is due to the increase of automation in many fields.
Statistics show that 30 percent of jobs in about 60 percent of occupations could be automated sooner than you think. This means people are having to seek alternative sources of income - which usually comes in the form of some sort of small business or freelancing. So, yes, there is an upsurge in freelancers. Nonetheless, as is with any major market upset, things usually even out and everyone is able to find their place, more or less.
Furthermore, it isn't just automation that is taking jobs. More SMBs are finding that it is much more cost effective to outsource certain tasks to freelancers. Examples of things being outsourced are bookkeeping, accounting, inventory management, Human Recourses, IT, and digital marketing. Startups can't afford to hire talent, so, for them, it's cheaper and easier to outsource these tasks.
Some things can't be totally done by automation - not yet, at least. Have you ever tried using one of those applications that claim to write articles for you? You end up having to rewrite the entire artificially written article, and it takes just as much time to make it sound like a human wrote it as it would have if you simply wrote it yourself. This goes for many other tasks as well. There always has to be a human somewhere in the mix.
Myth Number 4: You Get To Write What You Want
When I first started out freelance copywriting, I didn't even know it was actually copywriting. The truth of the matter is, I didn't even know what copywriting was for a while. I was writing copy for search engine optimization companies and didn't even have the understanding of what I was actually doing or for whom I was doing it.
For a good while, I figured I was writing articles for companies who owned websites - that they simply wanted me to research and create an article for people who visited their websites. Additionally, I had a small understanding of what and how keywords worked.
It wasn't until I began working for content mills that I began to pick up on what I was actually doing: copywriting. During the entire time working as a freelance copywriter, I rarely get to write what I want. My time revolves around writing for others about things I really don't know about nor care for.
A lot of us who start out as freelance writers dream of writing about things we love and enjoy. Nevertheless, as with any industry, you will most likely follow industry trends and write about those things everyone is buzzing about. For example, I have written countless articles about automation. By now, I am a guru of the automation trend, not because I ever cared about it, but because it is the prevalent trend for small businesses at the moment.
If you really want to follow your dream of becoming a true writer, you can't fall into the copywriting trap - and that's exactly what it is, a trap. If you have no choice but to do copywriting work, then remember to set time aside for yourself in order to work on your personal writing projects. But always remember, if you want to make money from your personal work someday, you will still most likely be forced to follow some industry trend.
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Myth Number 5: You Have To Charge Less Than You Want For Your Work
There have been studies conducted about the psychological effect price has on buyers. Consumers are naturally inclined to think of a product or service with a high price tag as being superior in quality. Even I have fell victim to this frame of thought, only to be disappointed in the end. Nevertheless, most often than not, price does dictate quality.
If you are trying to land clients with low offerings, they may or may not bite. If they do accept your low price, it's very likely you will find it very hard to increase the price later. On the flip side, clients may think less of your work and actually choose a higher priced writer, simply because they figure the other writer must be better and more experienced.
You don't have to sell yourself short to get clients. The better strategy is to actually focus on getting as much exposure to your work as possible. Writing for sites like HubPages is one way to increase that exposure. Once you have articles all over the internet (I think 100 or more is a good number to shoot for), then you can try to become a guest writer for bigger sites. Once you are allowed to write as a guest writer for more renowned sites, you can start branching off into things such as search engine optimization or link building.