So your big goal for 2020 was launching a freelance writing career. Perhaps you jotted it down in your bullet journal or put it on your moodboard: 2020 is the perfect time.
New year, new career! (Ah, remember January? Such innocent memories…)
But here we are, well into 2020, shell shocked by all that’s unfolded in the wake of a global pandemic that shut down many businesses and left people scrambling for solutions.
How are you feeling about your goal now? Does it still feel achievable, or has hope dimmed?
If the latter is true, I’m not here to judge. And if 2020 sucked your freelance writing dreams into the confusing abyss of a global pandemic, you’re not alone. However, you’re also not off the hook*.
With many industries thrown into flux and careers across the board being slapped on the chopping block, it may seem like the odds are stacked against you right now. But I believe that freelance writing dream of yours is actually more possible than ever before.
Let’s reignite that optimism. Let’s shake off that doubt. Let’s look at some of the reasons why now is the best possible time to launch your freelance writing career.
The catch? If I convince you, you’ve got to go for it. No more thinking, dreaming, waiting. It’s go time.
Keep scrolling to learn why now is the best time to launch a freelance writing career—and to find some resources to help you begin.
*To clarify: You are off the hook in order to take care of yourself physically and mentally during this wild time we’re living in, for sure. This “on the hook” is directed at those of us who have consciously decided to take action on goals right now.
Embracing a new challenge = GROWTH.
Let’s start with something basic and universally true: Change presents opportunity.
This is a fantastic reason to give your self-doubt the boot and launch your career despite all odds.
In December 2019 you might not have thought the career switch you’d been dreaming of would come with so many dramatic strings attached, but hey! Here we are. And those of us who decide to start freelancing in the midst of pandemic and recession will emerge from the other side 10x stronger for it.
As author Steven Hall commented in one illuminating (but not entirely shocking) Psychology Today article, “one actually becomes wiser and “inoculated” against stress by having to deal with it early on, just as a vaccination helps your body learn to resist germs before they can do your body serious harm.”
If you launch your career despite stressful and challenging circumstances, imagine how good you’ll have it once things return to a post-pandemic normal (even if it’s a “new normal”).
We experience our greatest growth when we face challenges head-on. We show ourselves how brave we are. We build up our confidence levels. We prepare ourselves for future challenges and pull ahead of the pack.
I don’t know about you, but I find challenges wildly exciting. It might be the alpha female in me, but when someone says I can’t do something, all I want to do is prove them wrong.
That’s probably why I decided to launch my writing career during the last recession in 2009. I was fresh out of school, had no writing degree, and no plan except that I wasn’t going to end up in a stuffy day job.
Everyone was ranting about how terrible the job market was and how impossible it would be for my generation to find their footing… but I made it work.
To this day, I’m so proud of myself for not sacrificing my values or my goals, or giving up hope due to the gloomy forecast all around me.
A decade later, I know that I was having my first brush with the very essence of freelancing: problem-solving and innovating. Whatever the circumstances, you can find ways to grow, to learn, and to reach that next level.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
How will you turn this challenge into a wonderful opportunity?
Remote workers are in (major) demand.
The era of the remote worker has officially arrived! We had no idea it would unfold this way, but it’s happening.
Remote working advocates have predicted for years that the workforce would start shifting to freelance and remote at an exponential rate. Even without the pandemic, things were moving in that direction.
While remote jobs used to be hidden gems you had to uncover on job boards—or a difficult conversation you’d have with your boss about why you should work in your PJ’s while everyone else is in the office—remote jobs are now becoming the norm.
I remember frantically consuming blog content about how to have “that conversation” with the boss…
Now companies and clients are searching for writers like you who can work from anywhere. Writers who don’t need on-site training to assimilate into their workflow.
Some are even claiming that the office as we know it is completely dead as social distancing solidifies it as a global M.O.
But it’s not just about social distancing. This pandemic has shifted the way we’re all thinking about our workdays from a work-life balance point of view. Even when offices do open up again, how many people will be eager to go back?
Those who used to commute to an office job have now had a taste of that forbidden work-from-home fruit. They now know they achieve epic levels of productivity without pesky coworkers popping by their desk or endless meetings in harshly lit boardrooms.
There will be some who are craving the sense of normalcy that the office provides, for sure, but many others aren’t planning to plop back down in their cubicle anytime soon.
It’s entirely possible that working remotely will become the new normal. For right now, those who are already experienced with getting things done from a distance will have the advantage.
The secret is out: Writers are valuable.
Not to sound cocky, but clients (finally) realize just how much they need us. *gasp*
It’s mutual, of course, because without them, we’d have no one to write for. But I spent many years in my career trying to convince clients why copy was important at all.
It’s now a generally accepted fact that copywriting and content writing should be given a generous slice of a company’s marketing budget. Clients don’t blink when shelling out thousands for an incredibly well-written website.
Nor should they! Copy is the emotional connection, the lifestyle context, the colloquial bridge between brand and customer. Without it, marketing is just bright colors and noise.
Okay, not entirely true, because visuals do count for a lot. Our graphic design and visual artist peers are also crucial and as in-demand as ever.
I do feel like we’ve reached such an advanced stage of aesthetically streamlined visual messaging, though, that people have become bored with eyeball seduction all day long.
We can get a hit of eye candy anytime we want it. Scroll scroll, tap tap. Everything is aesthetic.
But the stimulation that comes from reading something you feel intrinsically connected to is another story.
People want to read again. They’re getting back to long-form. They want to feel. They want to connect. They want to know that they’re aligning themselves with brands that speak their language and stand up for their values.
Writers can build that trust because our medium is that powerful.
The pandemic and the subsequent stay at home movement have even further shifted priorities for businesses.
People are at home on their phones and laptops. What they’re reading online counts more than ever, so email newsletters, product descriptions, headlines, blog posts, bios, and all forms of writing are more important that ever.
What if, because of all that’s happening, and because of our evolution away from constant noise, you could leverage this opportunity? What if you could position yourself as a writer who embraces and understands the post-pandemic world?
An expert in connection? A master of moving hearts with your words?
Think about it.
Many industries are thriving.
You’ve probably noticed a theme in which industries are experiencing growth during the coronavirus outbreak’s global lockdown.
When the world changes this drastically, some industries may take a hit or collapse entirely, but much like the quantum nature of the universe, others rise to fill the void*.
Studying human behavior might be something you’re already familiar with as a copywriter. Good copy is born from the needs, hopes, whims, and circumstances of a single target customer, so we spend a lot of time examining people to learn about those things.
You can leverage that same skill to uncover what people’s needs, hopes, whims, and circumstances are now. This can uncover a long list of industries that are very much thriving—and probably scrambling for writers to help them with their marketing.
Some examples are…
☕️ Medical education
☕️ Delivery & logistics
☕️ Live streaming software
☕️ Distance learning software
☕️ Remote team management
☕️ Scientific research
☕️ Beauty & skincare
☕️ Home fitness equipment
☕️ Self-care & wellness
☕️ Natural health remedies
☕️ Home decor
☕️ Home gardening
☕️ Home improvement
☕️ Cleaning & hygiene products
☕️ Meal kit delivery
☕️ Social networking
☕️ Remote therapy
☕️ Online entertainment
☕️ Real estate
…and so many more.
When you look at this list of booming industries, do you still feel hopeless? I hope not! The truth is, there is writing work to be done out there for a wildly diverse set of industries.
Do some brainstorming on how your skills and interests can be leveraged to support the products and services people need (and want) right now.
Something else I’ve been thinking about is how writers might help to smooth out the civilian turmoil that erupted this year. When we think of best practices and safety in times of crisis, how things are worded counts for a lot.
One sentence written two ways could mean the difference between a population that feels looked after and safe vs. one that’s distraught and confused (and panic-buying toilet paper).
* I don’t mean to sound harsh. I don’t want anyone to suffer or for their business legacies to fall to pieces. It has been difficult to watch our friends and family unable to work in service industry jobs (and even harder to watch our essential workers risk their lives daily).
My aim with this post and the entire Freelance Writing Cafe community is to focus on optimism, problem-solving, and prosperity against all odds. I hope that by examining which industries are thriving in the midst of this change, we can make proactive decisions for the future. The internet is full of opportunities to build wealth and I believe freelance writing is one of the most incredible ways to do that.
If you know someone who might be interested in launching a freelance writing career, send them this post! Let’s lift our community members up and pull through this together.
Freelancing is more secure.
It was true then and it’s true now.
Folks don’t like hearing it, but the truth has been revealed in starker light than ever as millions of people were laid off in April.
When you put all of your income eggs in one corporate basket, you may have that basket tipped over at any time. You just never know.
A company could go bankrupt, get bought out, and the new buyers could clean house. Upper management turnover could trickle down to massive layoffs that no one saw coming. A freaking pandemic could hit and shut down operations indefinitely.
I have officially seen all of these scenarios play out.
Freelancing allows you to set up multiple income streams from different clients and projects, which means you won’t have the rug pulled from under you if one of those streams dries up.
Companies are folding, business owners are panicking, and the world is changing. Why tether yourself to one of these entities and hope for the best?
Instead, you can stay dynamic and light on your feet. Show up with all of your enthusiasm and optimism and make your client’s lives easier—without getting sucked into the stress of daily ups and downs or panicking over whispers of impending change.
I have freelanced in offices where I was told I was a calming, refreshing presence. My calm presence was due to the fact that, despite the tense atmosphere of the employees, I hadn’t tied my immediate fate to being there. I could show up with a smile, work with a smile, and go home with a smile.
The next day I’d be working with other clients in other places, doing what I love.
In fact, that’s the only scenario in which I find office work somewhat enjoyable: when I’m there representing myself as a freelance service provider.
Being your own boss, my friends, is more than just an ego-boost. It allows you to focus on your own growth and prosperity while being that calming, helpful presence for clients.
Anyway, bringing this back to the point:
The reason for the contrast between my mood and the employees I’ve encountered is the place of self-designed security I operate from.
I know that no single client will sink me, whether they abruptly end my contract or completely fold. I have achieved a balance of onboarding new clients and working with existing clients for years on end.
Turnover is varied, so on one hand, I have built lasting relationships that I enjoy. I am intimately familiar with some clients’ businesses and it’s second-nature to produce work for them.
On the other hand, I do smaller one-off projects that allow me to meet new clients and grow from that recurring process of getting to know their brand, their customer, etc.
It’s fun. It’s empowering. It’s the perfect blend of comfort and new challenges. And it’s the only way I prefer to work.
You don’t need a degree to start.
Accredited writers might cringe at this, but it’s true.
I’m proof. I studied Visual Communications and Fashion Design and I’ve been a copywriter for a decade. I did leverage my fashion experience to define my niche, but I have no formal credentials as a writer.
Other than, you know, deciding I’m pretty good at it.
If you think you need a ton of qualifications or a fancy degree to do this stuff, think again. While some corporate freelance roles have specific requirements, I have even landed those with a degree unrelated to writing.
Outside of the traditional job search, thousands of writing “gigs” are posted online every day. Clients aren’t looking for ivy league writers. They’re just looking for a writer who knows how to perform specific kinds of tasks.
A few years ago I quizzed a handful of my clients on what inspires them to hire a writer online. These were clients with experience in sourcing and hiring remote freelancers through Craigslist, LinkedIn, Upwork, you name it.
They responded that strong samples and good communication where the things they felt most focused on.
Writers blathering on about years of experience and degrees became white noise after a while, and they just wanted evidence of good writing—as well as someone who would be easy to work with.
Out of about five clients, only one of them said experience mattered the most. When I pressed further, she revealed that seeing evidence in sample form (not statements about credentials) was the key.
What I’m hoping you’ll take from this is that you can break into freelance writing without having to go back to school, get certified, or take formal writing courses (unless you need them because your actual writing skills aren’t up to par).
If you’re a good writer and you know how to write copy/content that connects with people, you can start working next week.
Yes, there’s some setup involved, but I’ve got you covered with this blog post below:
Freelance Writing 101: The Beginner’s Checklist (A.K.A. Everything You Need to Get Your First Client)
Working from home is more than a luxury.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, the dream of the work-from-home-life has revealed itself to be as much about staying safe as it is about living on one’s own terms.
Flexibility is more important than ever as writers navigate the crisis. The ability to open a laptop to earn a paycheck rather than travel to a crowded office isn’t just a novelty. It’s a blessing—and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Most people don’t work remotely because they plan to spend their time on tropical islands. It’s usually because they want to see their kids grow up, take care of themselves physically and/or mentally, or simply require the comfort of home to perform at their best.
Now, we’re seeing a new reason surface: People want the choice of when and how they’re going to expose themselves to external risk factors. They want to #StayHome.
The ability to work from home can also help you keep others safe. For example, if you don’t require in-person meetings to accomplish your tasks, you don’t create a risky scenario for others—like exposing them to the virus as an unknown carrier.
Earning money remotely also means you can donate part of your income to others in need. This pandemic has shuttered countless businesses and left millions without jobs. Essential workers are bagging up and delivering food, saving lives, and keeping our world turning, and they need our help too.
If you’re still generating income, you can take care of yourself as well as your community. When we thrive, we can provide resources to others.
As I’m writing this, it all feels very post-apocalyptic and strange. But whatever threats or uncertainties the future may bring, wouldn’t it be nice to know your writing work can be conducted from the safety of home? That despite the hardships faced by those you love, you’ll be able to help support them?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I don’t take for granted how lucky I have been to maintain most of my freelance work throughout this crisis—nor how incredibly lucky all work from home writers are.
I was also able to donate hundreds of dollars to organizations, businesses, and individuals who weren’t as lucky. And I don’t take lightly the fact that essential workers can’t sit down and write a blog post and call it a day. They’re essential because they are putting themselves at risk constantly.
This is a heavy topic, but I had to include it, and I feel it is as relevant as ever.
In a wildly uncertain future, my remote freelance writing career offers some peace of mind, and it’s worth taking into consideration if you’re debating whether this is the right path for you.
You’re still reading this post.
Chances are, if you’re still reading this post, then you’re looking for reasons to start freelance writing. Take this as the “Yes, go do it!” that you’ve been looking for—the permission you need to get started.
Sometimes we worry that we need more experience or more confidence to start something, but we forget that experience and confidence come after action is taken.
Freelancing is a fast-paced scenario where you will learn something new every day and rise to challenges in ways you never thought possible. It’s 110% customizable to your goals and lifestyle.
It’s a path meant for problem-solvers, innovators, and those who just think a little bit differently from everyone else.
And if you’ve read this far, I have a feeling you know it’s the right path for you.
You want to be your own boss.
You want to design your own days.
You want to pick your own clients.
You want to call the shots.
And most of all, you want to build a long-term, high-income career that will be sustainable and make you feel good about how you show up in the world.
It’s up to you to make the call, but don’t let the world’s ever-changing circumstances hold you back. There will always be folks who declare that everything is falling apart and there’s no hope, or there’s no sense trying. There will always be new challenges and new dramatic events unfolding. There will always be naysayers and roadblocks.
But if you want this, you know you can make it happen. And the Freelance Writing Cafe will be right here to support you.
Got a question? Need some encouragement? Join the Freelance Writing Facebook group.
I’ve honestly found this time to be the perfect time to move into freelancing full time, so this post was a perfect thing to read today. I’ve been a freelancer for seven years on the side, but 2020 has given me the chance to get all my things in order to go full time (actually starting this week!).
Michelle Christina says
Yes, love that! Even seemingly ~iffy~ circumstances can present ideal opportunities. I keep thinking about how uncertain moments ARE the ideal time to take risks. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment and we wish you the best with your career moving forward!