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What is a Freelance Writing Business?
The freelance writing industry is thought to have an estimated value of £1.2 trillion globally. There are currently more than 2 million people working as freelancers in the UK, with writing being one of the most popular freelancing professions.
Freelance writing is the practice of writing for money while working on an individual basis, rather than for a specific company or organisation. You will be working as a contractor and may work as a one-off writer or on a short-term or long-term basis for a specific client or company. However, you will always be working as an individual entity.
Freelance writing allows you to undertake a diverse range of projects, on a variety of topics or industries for a number of different clients.
Freelance writers can choose to work in a variety of industries, including:
|Fashion & Beauty||Family & Parenting||Health & Well-Being||Medical & Healthcare|
|Home & Gardening||Food & Drink||Finance||Politics|
|Technology||Hobbies & Crafts||Sports||Digital Marketing|
|e-Commerce||Diet & Fitness||Real Estate||Cryptocurrency|
You may choose to focus on topics and industries that you have prior experience and knowledge of. Alternatively, you could opt to write about topics you find interesting. Some freelance writers write across a number of topics and industries.
There are different types of writing you can specialise in as a freelance writer. For example:
- Blog writing: A blog is an online journal or informational website that includes regularly updated content about a specific topic or topics. Blog writers usually write in a more informal, conversational style and will add updated content to the website regularly.
- Article writing: An article is an instructive, persuasive or explanatory original piece of non-fiction writing that is written for a wide audience. Articles are written for an online or physical (for example, newspapers, magazines and academic journals) publication.
- Book writing (including ghostwriting): Freelance writing can include writing fictional or non-fictional books for publication, either physical or as an e-book. If you work as a ghostwriter, you will write material without receiving credit as an author.
- Copywriting: A copywriter is a professional writer who writes text or copy that is used for marketing and promotional material. Copywriting is an essential element of advertising and marketing. It is designed to motivate people to take a specific action. It involves writing digital content for different areas of a website, such as landing pages, product pages and blog posts.
- Journalism: This is the activity of researching, assessing, creating and presenting news and information. You will likely provide single stories, contract work or regular pieces to a news organisation (either online or print).
- Business-to-business (B2B) writing: This involves creating articles, emails and white papers that businesses sell to other businesses. It often involves brand writing, informational writing and sales writing.
- Business-to-consumer (B2C) writing: This refers to any writing that you write specifically from a business to a consumer. This type of writing is often more informal than B2B writing.
- Technical writing: This involves writing technical (and often complex) communication that is used by professionals to share information about specialised topics. It might include providing instructions or explaining technical concepts.
- Video script writing: Video script writing is designed to create the narrative, foundation and message of your video. You may be asked to write the scenes, setting action and dialogue of the videos and any voice-overs.
- White paper writing: This involves writing a marketing and sales piece that a specific business will use to explore the subject matter, a problem or a solution related to its products or services. The business will use your paper as a marketing strategy to increase brand awareness and generate leads.
- Email marketing: Email marketing writers write actionable emails as a form of direct marketing to promote a business’s product or services. It is also used to promote customer loyalty. You may be asked to design, build and optimise email marketing.
- Instructional writing: You will provide specific instructions on how to do something, for example, assembling furniture, operating machinery or completing a craft. Cooking and baking recipes are also types of instructional writing.
- Social media content writing: This is the process of writing content for audiences on social media. You will most likely write content across multiple social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok). Your content will likely be used for advertisements.
You may choose to specialise in one specific type of writing or engage in two or more types of writing.
Starting up a writing business can be extremely lucrative, particularly because this type of business has low investment requirements, and you may already have a lot of the required equipment. You can choose to run your business independently and complete all writing, editing and administrative tasks yourself or hire employees or other freelancers.
There are several tasks and responsibilities associated with setting up and running a writing business, including:
You may choose to focus on topics and industries that you have prior experience and knowledge of. Alternatively, you could opt to write about topics you find interesting. Some freelance writers write across a number of topics and industries.
There are different types of writing you can specialise in as a freelance writer. For example:
- Searching for clients.
- Consulting with clients.
- Conducting research.
- Writing, creating, proofreading and editing content.
- Using editing programmes.
- Completing invoices and handling payments.
- Creating and maintaining a portfolio.
- Advertising and marketing.
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
If you are considering starting up a freelance writing business, there are certain skills that are necessary. These include proficiency in your chosen language, good written communication skills and research skills, attention to detail and strong editing skills. Good verbal communication skills, perseverance and business skills, such as effective advertising and marketing strategies, will also be beneficial.
Types of Customers
Identifying your target market and the typical customers that your business wants to attract is a key step when creating your business plan and setting up your business.
The types of clients your business typically attracts will be determined by multiple factors, such as:
- The type of writing you specialise in.
- Your chosen industry or industries (e.g. medical, business or travel).
- Your skills, qualifications and experience.
- How established your business is.
- Your portfolio.
- Your price points (e.g. your price per hour, per word or per project).
- Your branding, advertising and marketing strategy.
- Your availability (e.g. the size of the projects you are able to undertake).
How and where you offer your writing services can also have a significant impact on your customer base. For example, if you offer your services on freelancer and writing platforms, such as Upwork or Freelance UK, your typical client base will likely be other users of these platforms. If you have your own business website, you are more likely to attract clients who are looking for a specialised writer for larger projects.
Equipment You Will Need
The equipment requirements for a freelance writing business can vary, depending on the size of your business and whether you hire employees.
The majority of freelance writers operate their businesses remotely (usually from their homes). However, some people opt to set up a physical business, for example, by opening an office or another type of writing premises. If you choose to do this, your equipment requirements will grow.
You may already have some of the equipment you require for freelance writing. If you decide to use your existing equipment, ensure it is in good working condition.
Below is an approximate list of equipment requirements for a freelance writer:
A laptop or desktop computer
You will need a high-specification, reliable laptop that can handle the amount of time you will be using it each day. Alternatively, you could opt for a desktop computer, although they are less ideal if you need to attend in-person meetings or plan to work from different locations. A high-spec laptop can cost between £500 and £3,000.
A website is a way for potential clients to see your skills, experience and areas of expertise. Your website can act as your online CV and portfolio, showcasing your best work, with links to online publications or with information about your previous clients or projects. Ensure your website includes your contact information so potential clients can connect with you. You should also include an about page, a contact page, a blog and testimonials.
A secure storage system
Only storing your previous and current work on your laptop doesn’t offer you complete protection. In the event of your laptop breaking or being lost or it contracting a virus, not having a secure storage system could result in you losing all of your work. You may sometimes work with confidential information. The vast number of projects you undertake will likely require you to invest in secure Cloud storage. You should ensure the storage you opt for is password protected and encrypted. Cloud storage ensures everything is backed up externally to protect the information in the event of a technological issue. You can expect to pay between £2 and £10 a month for Cloud storage.
A Microsoft Office subscription
Microsoft is a must-have for freelance writers. A subscription gives you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, OneDrive and more. Office Business subscriptions range in price from £4.50 to £16.60 per month, depending on your needs.
An email service
Setting up your own email service using your own domain may be beneficial as your business grows. A business domain can make your business seem more professional and official. Using a public email domain such as @google or @hotmail can look less professional compared to using your own business domain. You will need to make sure your email service is fully secure and encrypted and abides by email security policies in the UK. It costs approximately £10 to set up an email domain.
You will likely need to issue invoices to your clients and keep them for your own records (and for when you submit your taxes). Digital invoice software allows you to create electronic invoices, send them to your clients and store them safely. The software can be purchased for £5 per month.
If you run your business remotely, you will need to ensure your Wi-Fi is reliable and high-speed. If you ever video-chat with your clients, you will need to ensure it doesn’t cut out in the middle of a session. You will also need Wi-Fi to conduct research and run your website. Wi-Fi prices usually range from £20 to £50 per month depending on your provider and your required speeds.
There are several pieces of stationery that can be beneficial to your business and that can make it easier for you to make notes and plan projects. Some stationery you can purchase includes:
- Pens and pencils.
- Paper and notepads.
- A diary and/or calendar.
- Post-it notes.
A work phone
A smartphone can be used for keeping in contact with your clients, having constant access to your emails and even conducting research on the go. Having a work phone also helps to keep your business separate from your personal life.
Business cards are an important marketing tool and can be given to new or existing clients. Your business cards should include your business name, contact information, location and the types of services you offer. 500 business cards can cost as little as £20.
Some of the other equipment you may require if you run your writing business remotely includes:
- A laptop stand.
- A larger desktop monitor.
- Noise-cancelling headphones.
- A printer, scanner and fax machine.
- A paper shredder.
- Appropriate lighting.
- Stationery, such as pens, pencils, notepads, diaries, highlighters and post-it notes.
- A transportable document holder.
Whether you set up an at-home office or open an in-person office, investing in high-quality, comfortable furniture can help to protect you from strain or injury. Ensure the furniture is an appropriate height and doesn’t require you to strain your neck or back. Your minimum furniture requirements will be a desk and ergonomic office chair, although you may also opt for additional furniture, such as secure filing cabinets and bookshelves. If you hire employees, you may need to purchase additional equipment.
When starting up a freelance writing business, an important consideration you will need to make is the start-up costs and running costs. Determining the typical costs associated with a writing business allows you to calculate your initial investment requirements, your pricing strategy and your profit goals.
There are multiple costs associated with setting up and running a writing business. Some of these costs will be one-off initial costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business. Other costs will be ongoing costs you will need to pay regularly – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Some of the costs associated with setting up and running a freelance writing business are:
Your equipment is an important purchase, as without it you will not be able to work as a freelance writer. You may have some of the equipment already and as long as it is in good working condition, this can allow you to purchase less equipment initially and expand or update your equipment as your business grows. The cost of your equipment can vary significantly, depending on how much equipment you require and the specification.
Monthly and annual equipment costs and subscriptions
Your monthly and annual subscription costs could include your Wi-Fi, website, email service and your secure storage. Depending on which subscriptions you require and the specifications of the ones you choose, expect to pay between £40 and £150 per month.
Your business website
A business website is an essential advertising tool, as it allows potential clients to find your services online and view your skills, experience and portfolio. You should ensure your website is attractive to customers and use search engine optimisation (SEO) so that your website ranks highly on search engines, such as Google. Your website will need regular monitoring, updating and upgrading. You also need to make sure your website is secure, particularly if you will be collecting any customer information or banking details. You may choose to set up and run your website yourself or hire someone to do this for you. You can expect to pay between £20 and £100 per hour for someone to set up and run your website.
If you find clients through freelancing platforms, such as Upwork or Freelance UK, you can expect to pay platform fees. While some platforms charge you a monthly fee, the majority take a percentage of your earnings (often up to 20% + VAT). When calculating your monthly earnings, consider how much of your money is reserved for your platform fees. For example, if you earn £2,000 per month on Upwork, you may only receive £1,600.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget, as without your equipment you will not be able to run your business. Factor repair and replacement costs into your annual budget.
A physical location
If you decide to set up physical premises for your business, this will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will likely need to rent your premises on a monthly or yearly basis. Rental prices can vary significantly, depending on the location, the size of the premises and the on-site facilities. City centre locations and newly built premises usually have the highest rental costs. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually.
Branding is an essential expenditure for your business. It can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, and your business name, and creating your business website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.
Advertising and marketing
To ensure your writing business attracts customers and creates maximum profits, you will need to invest in advertising and marketing. It is recommended that you spend between 1%-3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £50,000, you should spend between £500 and £1,500 on advertising and marketing. You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your business or when you are trying to grow your business.
You may initially operate your business independently and then hire other writers as your business grows. You could hire staff as permanent employees or as independent freelancers. If you hire staff permanently, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.
Insurance is recommended to help protect your business, your equipment and your clients. Online businesses can be vulnerable to hacking. Insurance can also protect you if there is an issue with your equipment, if a client fails to pay you or if any of your writing causes you legal troubles.
Some coverage options that can protect your business include:
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Personal Accident Insurance.
- Business Equipment Insurance.
- Portable Equipment Insurance.
- Cyber and Data Risk Insurance.
- Cyber Liability Insurance.
- Freelancer Assist.
Insurance costs typically start at £10 per month but can rise, depending on the coverage you choose and your insurance provider.
Typical Pricing for Customers
Once you have calculated the typical costs associated with setting up and running your freelance writing business, you can then determine your pricing policy. Your pricing strategy will be dependent on multiple factors, such as:
The type of writing you do
Certain types of writing are paid significantly more than others. For example, copywriters, book writers and journalists are more highly paid compared to freelancers who write product reviews and product descriptions. This is likely related to the increased skills and knowledge you need, the higher research requirements and the demand for certain types of writers.
The industry or niche you specialise in
As the list above shows, there are many different industries you can choose to write in, such as education, health and entertainment. Certain industries are more saturated than others, whereas other industries are in higher demand. Your pricing can therefore depend on the industry you choose to specialise in.
Your advertising and writing platform:
Certain platforms result in higher pay than others. For example, if you have your own business website, you are likely to attract higher-paying clients.
How much time each project takes
Your time needs to be factored into your pricing. You will likely have different pricing tiers, depending on how long your work takes. Writing tasks that are more laborious and time-consuming and require more research or editing will be higher paid.
Your typical clients
The types of clients you attract will have a significant impact on your pricing. Larger businesses, publications and websites are usually willing to pay higher prices to freelancers.
Safely Running a Freelance Writing Business
Safe practices in your freelance writing business can help to protect you, your equipment and your clients. Many of the safety practices relating to this type of business aim to protect you from risks related to technology and the internet.
Some safe practices you can adopt in your writing business are:
Follow ethical codes
This is particularly applicable to writers who are working as journalists. Ethical guidelines are designed to protect you and the general public.
Some ethical guidelines to follow are:
- Ensure your writing is accurate and double-check your sources.
- Protect vulnerable people, such as children and those with disabilities.
- Do not use hidden recording devices.
- Protect public health and safety.
- Do not knowingly misinform or mislead.
- Expose crimes or dangerous events (within reason).
Create client contracts
Although contracts are not a legal requirement, creating a legally enforceable contract with your clients ensures that any terms are laid out straight away and both parties are aware of the project’s expectations and timeframes and the agreed-upon payment amount. Contracts also help to protect you in the event of a dispute and make your business appear more professional.
Install anti-virus software
Anti-virus software can detect and remove malicious codes and intrusions on your computer or laptop. This can protect you and your business against viruses and malware. If your laptop becomes infected with a virus, this can cause irreparable damage to your equipment, can delete your computer’s data and cause you to lose money and business. Anti-virus software should be installed on all of your devices and your Wi-Fi.
Use a firewall
A firewall helps to protect any information stored on your devices. It prevents any unauthorised access to your device or accounts and sends you an automatic alert if someone attempts to access your information. Some computers and laptops come with a built-in firewall whereas others may need you to install or enable a firewall.
Install anti-spyware software
Spyware can monitor and collect your personal information and any information stored on your computer or electronic devices without you realising. Some types of spyware can even detect your passwords and gain access to financial information. Ensure all your devices have anti-spyware software to protect your business and your clients.
Always install updates on your browser, operating system and applications
One of the reasons why updates are released is to keep up to date with new security risks. Failure to install updates could make your computer vulnerable to hackers.
Secure your Wi-Fi network
Don’t simply set up your Wi-Fi and use the pre-given password. Choose your own secure password and ensure your Wi-Fi network is encrypted to prevent anyone from accessing or hacking it. This is particularly important if you are using your Wi-Fi network to access client records.
Properly maintain and set up equipment and ensure it is safe to use
Ensure all equipment is set up and used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and that safety standards are being met. This includes your office furniture, which should be safe and supportive to prevent injuries and strain. You should also ensure electronic items, plugs and chargers comply with all electrical safety regulations.
Carry out risk assessments
Although risk assessments are only a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees, they are recommended to all businesses to ensure the safety of you, your staff and your customers. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated. As part of your risk assessment, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Complying with any legal requirements and regulations is essential when setting up and running your business. The legal requirements can change depending on the type of freelance business you set up. Some factors that can impact the legislation you need to comply with include:
Some factors that can impact the legislation you need to comply with include:
- Whether you work for any overseas clients.
- Whether you hire employees.
- Whether you have business premises.
- How and where you offer your writing services (e.g. your own website or a freelance platform).
Some legal requirements and regulations you should be aware of are:
Comply with copyright laws
You automatically get copyright protection if you create any original literary content. Copyright prevents people from copying your writing, distributing your writing without permission or making any adaptations to your work. While copyright laws protect you and your writing, you also must make sure that you don’t advertently or inadvertently copy anyone else’s work.
Comply with invoice requirements
When sending invoices to your clients, there are certain pieces of information you must include:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique invoice number.
- Your business name and address.
- The client’s name and address.
- A brief description of your work.
- The total you are charging the client and when the payment is due.
- The payment method.
Keep in mind that if a client pays you later (after the date specified on the invoice), you have a legal right to interest and a debt recovery fee.
Ensure your website is disability friendly
Under the Equality Act (2010), all websites in the UK must be accessible to people with disabilities. You must make reasonable adjustments to your website to ensure it is accessible, for example, having text-only versions of each page so that they can be read by text converters.
Ensure your website complies with guidelines
If you set up a website, there are several guidelines you need to comply with, including:
- Privacy policies.
- Cookie legislation.
- Service descriptions.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your clients’ personal information, contact details and banking information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you process or store personal information such as personal details and banking information, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Publishing certain information
As a freelance writer, you must take care that you do not publish any information that could be considered unethical or confidential.
- Personal information, such as addresses.
- Information relating to children, such as the school they attend.
- Information that is protected by privacy settings.
- Information that is not suitable for the public domain.
Be aware of the legal limits to confidentiality
You may have confidential sources or learn confidential information as part of your research. Although you may wish to protect your sources or may not want to report or publish certain information, you should be aware of your legal duty relating to reporting certain illegal activities, such as:
- Drug trafficking.
- Money laundering.
- Child abuse.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment. As part of your tax responsibilities, you must:
- Record all sales, incomes and expenses.
- Complete an annual self-assessment tax return.
- Register for VAT if you earn above the threshold (currently £85,000).
- Pay National Insurance contributions.
- Keep a record of your business accounts for the previous five years.
If you open an office or another physical location as part of your business and if you have employees or other freelancers working on your premises, you will have additional legal guidelines to follow, such as:
Comply with fire regulations
If you run your business from an in-person location with other staff, you must ensure fire safety measures are implemented on-site. There are multiple fire regulation requirements you must ensure you comply with. For example:
- Perform a fire risk assessment.
- Comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Implement any necessary fire safety measures.
- Implement emergency procedures and ensure these are clearly displayed on your premises.
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
These regulations apply to you and any employees you hire. You must ensure any equipment is fit for purpose and is maintained and inspected regularly. You must also ensure that health and safety risks are minimised to an acceptable level, that you have the correct knowledge and training to use the equipment, and that protective measures are put into place. You must also ensure the equipment is used under appropriate conditions.
Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)
The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). This includes any electrical equipment such as computers and printers.
Comply with employment legislation
If you employ any staff, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act lays out the duties of all employers in the UK regarding ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone in your workplace. As you are the business owner, you will be responsible for protecting the health and safety of your employees and any clients or visitors to your business.
Positives of Owning a Freelance Writing Business
Starting up a freelance writing business can be rewarding in many different ways.
Some of the main positives of this type of business are:
Freelance writing gives you the flexibility to work as little or as often as you want. You can design your own schedule and have the flexibility to change your schedule from day to day and week to week. You could choose to take on more work at certain times and work less or not take on any work at other times. You can also take on as many or as few clients as you choose. Freelancing gives you a huge amount of freedom and flexibility.
High income potential
Freelance writers charge per word, per hour or per project. You can set your own rate of pay, based on your experience, knowledge, area of expertise and reputation. You can also raise your rates periodically to reflect your increased experience and the cost of living. Depending on the type of freelance writing you do, you will likely charge between £0.04 and £1 per word (or between £20 and £200 an hour). If you outsource writing work or hire other freelancers, you will take a cut of their pay or charge them a fee. You have the potential to earn a very high income while working flexibly.
Work from anywhere
One of the biggest advantages of freelance writing is that you can work from anywhere. Whether that’s working in your home, from your local coffee shop, in a park or even from another country. All you need is your laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection to conduct your business.
Low start-up costs
A freelance writing business is a low-investment enterprise. You will have very few equipment requirements and low set-up costs and running costs. You can initially use equipment that you already have in your home and buy more equipment as your business grows. You also likely won’t need to invest in business premises and can initially set up your business without hiring staff. Low initial investment requirements will mean you won’t require any outside investment and can begin turning a profit earlier.
Great opportunities for growth
As your business becomes more successful, you can hire additional writers and editors, allowing you to expand your business. Having more writers allows you to take on more work and maximise your profits. If you operate remotely, you can also work with writers and clients all over the world, which expands your potential reach.
Pick and choose your clients
Being aware of your target market and the types of clients that are going to be most beneficial to your business will enable you to maximise your opportunities. As the business owner, you can pick and choose the clients you work with and decline any clients that you don’t think will be beneficial to your business’s growth and profits or that will be more difficult or time-consuming to work with.
Gain exposure and experience
Building an impressive portfolio, having work published under your name, writing for high-profile clients and having good reviews from previous clients will result in you gaining exposure and attracting more clients. Better-paying clients are more likely to work with writers that have established success or have a strong online presence. You can gain exposure and become well-known within your chosen industry or industries.
You can connect with other people in your industry and create beneficial business connections. You could also work with many of the same clients for extended periods of time, creating strong business relationships. Connecting with other people in your industry who have the same interests as you can be rewarding in multiple ways.
Work in a range of industries
Freelance writers work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, fashion, beauty, business, sports, travel, psychology and IT. You can work on projects in a number of industries to keep your work varied and interesting or opt to specialise and become an expert in one industry.
Capitalise on your knowledge and interests
Because you can choose your own clients and the projects you accept, you can choose to focus on topics that you are knowledgeable about and interested in. Not only will this make your work more interesting and enjoyable, but clients are also usually willing to pay extra if the writer has experience in that specific field.
Be your own boss
Being your own boss gives you the opportunity to control the growth of your business, manage your own time, and gain more self-confidence and job satisfaction. Owning your own freelance writing business also means that all your profits will belong to you, and you will be in control of creating your ideal business.
Minimal skills and experience required
You can begin working as a freelance writer without having any prior experience (although your pay will likely be lower). You also don’t need any formal qualifications or training. Freelance writing is an accessible industry, making it easier to break into.
It can be rewarding
Many people who set up a writing business are passionate writers and passionate about the industry they are working in. Doing something you love can be extremely rewarding and make work feel less like work.
Design your dream business
As the business owner, you can create your dream business, from the type of writing you want to do, the industry you want to work in, the clients you choose, your business’s brand and aesthetic and your writing platform. Creating your dream business can be very rewarding.
Negatives of Owning a Freelance Writing Business
Although working as a freelance writer can be rewarding in many different ways, there are some negative aspects to this type of business that you should be aware of.
These can include:
Work can be irregular
It can be difficult to plan your finances, predict your profits and plan your schedule when you cannot predict the amount of work you will have. There could be certain times of the year when you have few or no projects on the go, which can have a significant impact on your overall profits.
It can be time-consuming
As well as the time it takes to complete any writing projects, you will also need to spend time building up your client base, networking, searching and applying for jobs, building a portfolio and creating an online presence. You will also be responsible for administrative duties such as managing your website. If you don’t have regular clients, you will spend a lot of time searching for work. All of these tasks can be time-consuming and are unpaid.
It can be isolating
As a freelance writer, you will spend the majority of your working time alone. You will have no or very little face-to-face contact with other people and even if you have employees, they will likely also work remotely. Writing involves sitting in front of your laptop alone and this can be lonely and make it difficult to motivate yourself.
Getting started can be difficult
Establishing a reputation and creating a portfolio can be laborious and take a long time. When you first begin writing, you will likely have to accept jobs that are significantly underpaid, just so you can begin building your reputation. It can take several months before you can begin charging higher prices, which can be very difficult if you have bills and expenses to account for. Many freelance writers give up before their business takes off because they cannot sustain the initial low pay.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the freelance writing industry has exploded in popularity. More people than ever want to work from home and freelance writing platforms are now filled with writers. Not only can this make it more difficult to find work, but it has also made it increasingly competitive, lowered the demand and lowered the pay rates. This can make it more difficult for your business to succeed.
Your income can be unreliable
Because you may not have set hours and projects every week, your income can be unreliable. Certain times of year are quieter than others, with less work available. Additionally, during holidays, such as Christmas, much of the writing industry closes for an extended period of time. Because you won’t be working, you won’t be earning any money, forcing you to take unpaid time off.
You are reliant on your clients
Even if you have set clients that you work with long-term, you are still relying on them to send you projects in a timely manner. If there are any delays in them sending you your tasks, you can have days where you aren’t working and aren’t earning an income. On the other hand, there can be times when you are inundated with work as multiple clients have sent you tasks at the same time.
Constant education and research are required
Even if you are writing about a topic you are familiar with, you will still need to conduct extensive research and stay up to date with theories, information and laws. Failing to keep up to date can result in incorrect or not factual writing, which could open you up to liability issues.
Some clients may be difficult
Some clients may have a lot of demands and expect too much from you. They may be demanding and difficult to deal with and expect you to complete a lot of tasks, complete projects in unrealistic timeframes and request constant changes and edits. This can be stressful for you and have a negative impact on your time availability for other clients.
It can be stressful
Freelance writing can be stressful, particularly when you are trying to manage your workload and please your clients. Not only is there a lot of pressure to write the perfect piece every time, but as the business owner, you will face the additional pressure of being responsible for your business’s success. You will have a lot of important responsibilities, such as running your website and handling administrative duties.
High risk of your business failing
Starting up your own business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high competition, an ineffective business plan or if the UK encounters another recession or a period of financial difficulty.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Planning Your Freelance Writing Business
If you are considering starting up a freelance writing business, an effective and well-designed business plan is essential. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
Your business plan should contain information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
When creating your business plan, there are some important factors you should consider:
The type of writing business you are going to set up
As the list above demonstrates, there are many different types of writing you can choose to specialise in, such as blog writing, journalism, article writing and B2B writing. It is recommended that you focus on one or two types of writing, in order to grow your reputation and specialise your business. Consider your experience, skills and interests, as well as the demand and the average pay when deciding which type of writing business to focus on.
The writing industry you are going to specialise in
Some people choose to write across a variety of topics and industries, whereas others choose to focus on one industry. For example, you may choose to write about the health and fitness industry. Consider your interests and current knowledge, the most in-demand niches (and the typical pay associated with each niche) and your competition. If you do decide to specialise in one industry, ensure you conduct thorough research before finalising your decision.
Where you will advertise your writing services
Will you set up a business website? Will you advertise your writing services on a freelancing platform? Will you utilise professional networking, such as LinkedIn? How you choose to run your business will have a significant impact on your typical customer base, your start-up and running costs and your pay. You could also choose to use a combination of different selling approaches in order to increase your business.
Your typical client base
Determining your typical client base can help you to plan your advertising and marketing strategies and help you to make your business most attractive to prospective clients. The types and sizes of the clients you target will also help you to calculate your pricing.
Your brand and unique selling point (USP)
Creating your brand is a key way to ensure you stand out from other writers. Branding can help you to focus your target audience, attract clients and concentrate your marketing and advertising strategies. Some ways you can create your brand are by determining the type of writing business you are going to set up, focusing on your business’s visual identity and creating a brand story. Your business name and logo are also part of your branding so ensure you consider these when creating your business plan. A USP can also be part of your brand and can help your writing business stand out from your competitors. Consider what can make you stand out and how this fits into what defines your business.
Your advertising and marketing strategies
There are many ways you can choose to advertise your business. These can include utilising freelancing platforms, networking with other professionals, advertising on social media and using paid online ads. Your marketing and advertising plan should detail what your brand is and how you plan to promote your business. As part of your marketing strategy, consider the most effective way to reach your target audience and attract potential customers. Create an advertising plan that is specific to the type of business you are going to run and how you plan to operate.
Your competition will be other writers and freelance writing businesses. When you analyse your competition, consider the ways they have grown their business and how they have attracted clients. You should also look at their pricing policy and their typical pricing. You could also look at what you think your competition does well and what you think they could improve, as well as how you could stand out from your competitors.
Your approximate start-up costs and running costs
Consult the list above to calculate your approximate start-up costs and running costs. Determining your approximate costs enables you to calculate your initial investment and what your monthly or annual running costs will be. Creating a budget is a key part of your business plan. Once you have determined your approximate costs, you can then calculate your pricing policy and determine your profit forecast.
Your pricing policy and sales strategy
Will you charge per word, per hour or per project? What will your typical pricing be? Will you offer an editing service and if so, what will the additional charges be? How often will you increase your pricing? These are all important considerations you will need to make when setting up your business. You should also create a sales strategy to help you maximise your sales and target your customers successfully.
Your sales forecast
How many hours do you plan to work each day, week or month and how many projects/clients can you realistically take on? These considerations can help you to create a sales forecast. Consider how demand could affect your sales forecast and whether certain factors could change the number of projects you have, for example, the time of year.
A strategy for growth
This is your business’s plan for overcoming any future challenges and realising your sales goals and your goals for expansion. For example:
- Hire other freelance writers to enable you to take on more work.
- Outsource some writing for a lower price.
- Target a new audience.
- Target larger and more established businesses, publications and websites.
Your business goals
Determining your business goals is an essential part of creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your freelance writing business and help you to create a one-year, three-year, and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Check you have complied with all legal requirements
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.
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