Thinking about your writing future and freelance career growth?
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you may be wondering: ‘Where to from here?’
Or, if you’re just starting out as a freelancer and looking for your first client job, perhaps you’re already setting your long-term goals.
Whether you’re an aspiring or professional freelance writer, career growth is a key – and ongoing – consideration.
Here are some questions to help you think about your future options.
Is starting an agency the only option for freelance career growth?
Starting a content agency or company seems like a logical career progression for a freelance writer. You start small, then grow big over time.
Starting an agency or group would also give you the opportunity to work on much larger projects – and, hopefully, increase your revenue.
Also, you’d be working alongside other writers, content creators and experts which is a huge bonus if you’re missing the camaraderie that the 9-5 offers.
However, running an agency and managing employees are very different tasks to freelance writing – so, you’d need to feel comfortable that starting a content agency was the right move for you.
Are your clients looking for a writer or an agency?
Anyone who’s taken my freelance medical writing course knows that I believe finding clients is all about being findable.
I suggest you need to learn about your ideal clients’ recruitment strategies. Understanding your client’s mindset helps you learn which websites your ideal clients are using to find writers. Plus, you should also know the key phrases your clients are using when they’re looking for you.
I know who my ideal clients are (and who they aren’t – a very important point). I know the type of health writing work I want to do – and, I know the type of writing work I don’t want to do.
My ideal clients find me because they’re looking for a writer, not an agency. My clients want someone who they can work with directly – and, they just want to work with one person. Importantly, my ideal clients are not searching for an agency. My clients are searching for a medical writer, a health writer – you get the picture.
If your ideal clients are looking for a writer, then growing into a group or agency may mean you need to rethink your target market – a move that may change your business considerably.
On the other hand, if you already have a well-established client network, then growing into an agency or group could be a smooth transition.
Did you quit your job to be a freelancer or run a company?
Many of us originally become freelancers because we want to do our own thing. But, with time, some of us decide that growing a company is our goal.
If you do decide to create a company and hire employees on a permanent basis, there’s a small risk that you may be faced with a new level of stress. As well, there will be additional financial commitments (salaries, superannuation, insurance etc). Often, the more you grow, the more outgoings you’ll have (though I do believe that, when it comes to money, it’s not how much you make but what you do with it that’s important).
Having said all that, plenty of people run companies and content agencies with a freelance mindset.
The trick is to maintain that mindset and make sure you don’t end up in the situation you tried to escape from in the first place (ie the shackles of full-time employment).
Could you try subcontracting?
Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of subcontracting. I have a great network of subcontractors I collaborate with when big projects come my way. Subcontracting is a perfect option for me because it allows me to take on projects I wouldn’t be able to do by myself yet still maintain my freelance life.
Also, I often recruit writers with specific expertise that I don’t have. The great part about that is that I get to learn from them, too.
Plus, collaborating with other writers feels like having real, actual colleagues!
Of course, the hard part about subcontracting is finding people you trust to produce excellent work. The idea is that subcontracting saves you time, not the other way around.
Also, if you do decide to try subcontracting, always tell your clients. It’s best to be honest if you are not the only writer working on your clients’ projects.
What other options are there for freelance career growth?
If you’re thinking that starting a company or collaborating with other writers aren’t in your long-term freelancing plans, here are some other ideas for your career growth:
- Increase your revenue goals – raise your rates with a strategy to implement over time, target high-paying clients who need premium services and consciously focus on long-term, meatier projects
- Diversification – take on different projects that involve learning new skills (for example, graphic design, audio and video content creation), test new styles of writing (grants, reports, technical writing) and explore new niches (outside of health & medical writing); diversification can help you grow in unexpected ways
- Sell useful tools – create online courses and tools (either directly or via a platform like Udemy), develop niche communities and write useful ebooks; sharing your expertise with an interested and engaged audience is a common way for freelancers to grow their careers and skills
- Creativity – freelance career growth isn’t just about making more money, and many freelancers find they need a creative outlet after so many years of doing the same old same old; consider options like creating a podcast, starting a new blog, developing a useful app or writing a book
Don’t forget balance
When it comes to freelance career growth, don’t forget the reason why you decided to freelance in the first place.
For many of us, it’s about work/life balance and freedom, not earning as much money as possible or running ourselves into the ground with work.
Finally, as you ponder the future, perhaps you’ll decide that the best option for your future career growth is to keep on keeping on – and, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, you can’t put a price on the true, absolute freedom that freelance life offers.