Ever thought about being a writer but not sure you want to get into “blogging” for a career? You aren’t alone!
Whether you think freelance writing is tied to running your own blog, you aren’t impressed by the rates you think you’d command starting out, or you just want to do something that feels like it has a bit more substance, you’ve got a sea of writing opportunities that go beyond blogging.
Here are just a few things you can do as a freelance writer besides blogging:
Copywriting covers a huge range of writing opportunities. Usually it refers to things like marketing copy, and you most often write copy for businesses. This can be anything from the words that go on a company’s brochure or website, to kickstarter campaigns, to letters and memos.
2. Web copy
Web copy can be considered a sub-genre of copywriting, and it’s a great place to specialize especially if you’ve got versatile writing abilities or you’re interested in working on a project that lets you do a few different things.
3. Sales letters (or pages)
Another highly specialized type of copywriting, sales pages and sales letters can offer a tremendous rate of return, especially when you’re good at them. Writing sales copy is different from writing other copy, and it can be very satisfying to produce something you know will directly impact your client’s bottom line (and yours!).
4. About Pages
The “about” page on a website is getting a lot of attention these days, because it’s usually a website’s #2 most frequently seen page. There are ways to optimize an about page, and if you become fluent in this style of content, you can charge a high rate for a short project that’s usually a lot of fun to write. This is a specialty niche in the “web copy” space, and if you become known for great about pages you might even be able to make a career of it.
5. White Papers
A white paper is a 6-8 page report or guide of some sort that businesses and organizations use in their marketing efforts. It dives deep into a topic or issue, and often the subject matter is directly related to the organization putting it out. White papers often require more time and research than other types of writing, but the projects also generate higher pay rates.
6. Case Studies (also known as Customer Success Stories)
Case studies can be similar to white papers in that they’re usually a longer (2-4 pages), free-standing document used by marketing departments to promote their business or organization. Typically case studies show how a “happy customer” has put a business’s product or service to good use. They serve as proof of a product or service’s effectiveness in a way that simply talking about the product itself might not. Case studies often involve conducting interviews.
There are two kinds of profile-writing work you can get into. One is a long-form interview-based article that goes in-depth into a person or organization to share some personality, philosophy, experience, growth, etc. (These are one of my personal favorites!)
The other profile you can write is one you might be more familiar with — profiles for social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and other types of social sites like LinkedIn and dating sites.
8. Video Scripts
With video getting more and more attention these days, there’s a growing demand for video scripts. Whether it’s writing dialogue, an explainer video, or even a video sales script, there are quite a few different ways to insert yourself into this field. Writing scripts requires you to adopt the voice of the client and write content that’s consistent with their messaging.
Nonprofits and non-government organizations often seek funding from foundations, the government, and other grant-making organizations. While some nonprofits keep a grant-writer on staff or tap a staff member to write grants, a great number of them outsource their grants to freelancers. Grant-writing is a specialized form of writing that involves a lot of moving pieces and significant parts, but it’s also very satisfying when you’re able to put together a package that highlights a worthwhile organization in a way that really “sings.” Taking a course in grant-writing can be extremely beneficial if you’ve never been a part of the grants world.
10. Magazine Articles
There’s any number of article types that magazines want, so writing for magazines offers a huge opportunity to practice your writing skills and spread into new industries and types of writing. When most people think of magazines, they think of the glossies that line grocery store checkout shelves, or high-brow publications that our NPR-listening friends have delivered. There’s a vast range of magazines out there, though, and countless opportunities to break in and get paid a great per-word rate.
11. Press releases
As long as there are things to be promoted, and as long as there are media promoting things, there will be press releases. Press releases are sent to media outlets to encourage them to spread the word about whatever’s being promoted. Writing press releases can be a lucrative writing niche if you’re able to generate publicity for your clients, and it’s a valuable skill to have in your portfolio to use for your own promotion, as well.
12. Books and ebooks (including ghostwriting)
There’s a common saying that everyone has a book inside. Whether or not it’s true that everyone has a book, not everyone knows how to get that book out (or has the time to do it). That’s where you can come in! To write a book or ebook, you work closely with an author to learn the idea, the voice, and the desired outcome for the product. There are usually multiple iterations involved, and a bit of interviewing and back-and-forth, so if you aren’t interested in working closely with a client “live and in person,” you might not want to get into writing someone else’s book.
Many organizations have newsletters, as well as online entrepreneurs. Newsletters can refer to anything from a paper newsletter that’s folded and mailed to an electronic email put together through an email client like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Newsletters can include anything from business updates to reporting, interviews, and event coverage. Small businesses often want to have newsletters but don’t have the capacity to produce them, which is where you can come in!
14. Emails and Autoresponder Series
There’s a type of marketing called email marketing, and it’s built on sending regular, frequent emails to subscribers in a list. An autoresponder series is a series of emails that are pre-written and sent, one at a time, in order, when someone subscribes to a list. They’re often strategic marketing, moving the reader down a path that leads toward some desired action (like subscribing to a service or buying a product).
15. Book descriptions and back matter
With the increasing popularity of self-publishing books has come the new freelance writing niche of book descriptions (listed on a book’s sales page) and back matter (what appears on the back cover of a published book). This is a niche service that can be a lot of fun!
This list is by no means exhaustive, and it’s just scratching the surface of the opportunities out there. If you’d like to go deep and learn how to pursue any one of these paths, leave me a comment and let me know!