Online writing is one of the most flourishing businesses of today. If you have basic technical knowledge, good grammar skills, ability to write for the masses and adhere to deadlines, you could become an online writer. Unlike other businesses that can have a saturation point in terms of market demand, a writing business will not go out of vogue.
As a writer, you will work for individual clients and businesses to develop multiple varieties of content.
Now as much as this sounds to be fun, setting up an online writing business is not easy, primarily not because of the costs involved but because it takes time to create and maintain a steady source of clients.
Two types of online writing businesses:
1. An online writing business where you are the writer and handle projects solely
2. An online writing business where you get writing projects and outsource them to others
Both of the varieties above have its hurdles to deal with. We’ll try to explain each aspect as clearly as possible. (If you think we missed any, kindly mention in the comments section or write to us.)
Online Writing Business Where You Are the Writer and Handle Projects Solely
In this first category, you work as a freelance writer from home and your task is to market your skills, contact potential clients, take assignments, complete them on a deadline and take payments. Sound easy?
Well, don’t jump to conclusions yet! Before jumping the hurdles you might experience, let’s see the advantages of such a work-from-home situation:
- There is no time barrier, that is, you work according to your own schedule. In a full time job, you have to work certain hours to justify your salary but with an online writing business, you take only those projects you prefer and can finish according to your own schedule. There is no pressure of deadlines even if you work a few hours daily.
- If you can prove your writing skills, there is no limit to the amount of money you can earn. In a full time job, your earning is restricted to your fixed salary. As a work-from-home freelance writer, there are no such limitations. With good writing skills and marketing attitude, you can easily make more than $3000 per month.
Now the flip side…
Disadvantages or Hurdles:
(This category includes technical and non – technical hurdles of online writing – explained with possible solutions)
1.Writer’s Block – This is when your mind draws a complete blank, not knowing what to write. Believe me; even great writers like Charles Dickens and Shakespeare had writer’s block.
Writer’s block can happen due to stress, overwork and inactive imagination. This can pose a serious problem as compared to other hurdles of an online writing business because when you cannot write, how can you earn even a penny?
Therefore, the best solution is to give your mind sufficient rest. Restrict your work to only 5 days a week and take weekends off to refresh your mind. Also, just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you have to burn the midnight oil and ridiculously tire yourself out. Okay, you are a workaholic! Don’t work 8 hours… but 10 or 12 hours daily but that’s it!
2.Experience – It doesn’t matter if you have written beautiful essays and poems during school or you could write a play for college cultural function; these do not count as experiences when you are trying to set up an online writing business.
It can help you to polish your writing skills, but does it meet your client’s requirement on writing content for web pages or articles about a certain product or service?
As a work-from-home freelance writer, you can come across work proposals for various kinds of writings such as – articles, blogs, product reviews, resume writing, personal statements, academic essays, thesis writing, technical writing, tutorial production and lots more.
While it is obvious that you cannot have experience in all fields of writing, it will be beneficial if you choose the fields where you do have expertise.
Moreover, since this is your first time as a professional writer, your lack of experience may not win you high paying writing projects at the start but that is something you have to deal with until you do.
This takes time – patience and understanding…but don’t give up as difficult as it may seem.
There are clients who hire new writers but with much less pay. For the first few months, you have to settle for less payment and work hard to gain experience. If experience is not on your side, it will be really difficult to get your online writing business going.
3.Getting Clients – Even after you get fairly comfortable beating writer’s block and start to gain some experience, getting new clients is hell of a job!
You want to keep in mind there are thousands of other writers like you who are at par with your writing skills or maybe even better, so you have to work hard and be persuasive to win clients. Getting clients is a big hurdle if you don’t know the correct way to approach them. In the online world, it works in two ways –
In the first way, you have several online platforms where you contact potential clients on a one-to-one basis. You apply with a resume, cover letter and writing samples.
This is similar to applying for a conventional job. The employer evaluates your resume and reverts back to you if you suit their company’s needs and negotiate payments. This choice is comparatively easier than the second one.
In the second way, you have several online writing platforms where employers post their projects and requirements publicly and writers are invited to bid on them. The winning bidder is decided on three factors – writing skills, payment expected and turnaround time.
Many times employers sway in favor of those writers who charge less even when they realize that you are more suitable. Nevertheless, in a bidding kind of writing assignment, never take rejection seriously, it is all part of the process.
Payments – This hurdle ties up with the “Experience” and “Getting Clients” aspects explained above. There are two hurdles you need to cross if you want to remain in an online writing business for the long haul:
- You need enough experience to get high paying projects. For instance, writers with 10 years experience can easily charge $300 for a 300-400 word press release but with no or little experience, you are not given more than $5 for the same press release. See the difference between the payments? Similarly, if an experienced writer charges $1 per word, a newbie writer is given $1 for 400-500 word articles in certain countries.
- You need to stay away from biased clients. There are clients who can reject your writing just because you are not a Native English writer or pay you even less although you have outstanding writing skills. The same client can pay exorbitant if you are a Native English writer even if your quality of writing is very average. Stay away from this mentality – no matter whether you are a Native or Non – Native English writer. You should get paid for the quality of work you provide and not for your ethnic background. Unfortunately, it is really prevalent in the online writing business world.
Techie Savvy – An online writing business involves working with both technical and non-technical writing. Many writers prefer to remain in the non-technical writing domain because of a lack of knowledge in technical subjects like mobile technology and computer equipments.
However, as a writer, you have to acquaint yourself with the slightly ‘technical’ side of ‘non-technical’ writing. There are clients who not only expect you to write but also upload the content online.
You need to have sufficient knowledge of WordPress blogs, text hyper links, image insertion and SEO. SEO is another important aspect to know as an online writer. We will discuss this in detail in the next post.
Online Writing Business Where You Get Projects and Outsource Them to Others
In this business category, you essentially act as the ‘outsourcer’ or the ‘middleman’ where you get projects from clients, send them to a team of writers and earn your profit in between. Here, you are not essentially working as ‘writer’ (you can if you want to) but you won’t get any time because outsourcing and project management will take your whole day. A typical day is spent in marketing your services on various platforms, negotiating deals and collaborating with writers to get the project done on time. In short, see the diagram below:
Client —————— Outsourcing Agent —————— Team of Writers
The advantages of this working system are pretty much the same as in the first category – you have flexibility and no limit to earning profits. Let’s see what the disadvantages or hurdles are.
Disadvantages or Hurdles:
(This category explains the hurdles in setting up a client interface module and managing a team of writers with possible solutions)
Client Interface – Ideally, it will be helpful if you create an online writing service website where you can take orders from clients, complete and submit them.
Take for instance websites like kpwriting.com and asiawriters.com – these websites serve as a point of contact for clients and writers as well. Interested writers can sign up on your website, post their resume and writing samples and clients can become paid members and hire your writing services.
The hurdle here is the cost of setting up a website and managing it. As a starter in this business, you have to hire a web designer to get the site ‘live’ and functioning. Before that, you have to see what kind of writing you want to offer – web content development or academic paper writing.
You not only have to justify the cost of setting up website but also invest much in advertising the website. You have to provide favorable rates to clients and writers alike, and also make your profit in between.
Along with advertisement comes the hurdle of optimizing your website. This is all the technical aspect of web development; therefore, you need a professional web developer unless you are willing to take the time and have access to the resources needed to set it up yourself.
Here your primary hurdle is investment. Think twice before jumping into this kind of online writing service provider business. If you want, you can work along the lines of the first category of an online writing business for a year or two, learn the ins and outs of the writing market, develop client contacts, save for the investment and then go for it.
Team Management – Freelancer.com, Elance.com, Guru.com, Craigslist.com, ifreelance.com and yahoo network of writers are some websites where you have to search for new writers to join your team.
You are the ‘employer’ now and you have to exercise your judgment in hiring them. If you are a writer yourself, there is no problem in assessing writers’ applications but, if you are not a writer, perhaps an editor will help you.
Therefore, to begin with, you need to search for an editor and build a basic team, minimum of 2-3 writers. You can expand the team when work pressure increases.
Now, the main hurdle with managing a team of writers is to collaborate with them, getting the work done on time and dealing with unprofessional attitudes of writers.
When working with writers online, you have to consider the time difference. If you have projects with longer deadlines, this is not a problem but in projects due within a 24 hour deadline, checking the time difference is a must.
So when you take care of time and prepare deadlines accordingly with correct project instructions, you can safely get the work done on time for clients.
Many times in your online writing business, you will come across writers with an unprofessional attitude. Such writers will have no importance of deadlines, try to sell you copyrighted content or resell sold content, will constantly be after you for payment ahead of time, will not communicate with you, will not provide quality content, will be averse to revision and editing and will vanish one day suddenly leaving you holding the bag.
Now it is difficult to predict how every writer is going to turn out, so do your homework. It’s ultimately your reputation that is on the line.
If you want the best writers, you need to pay the best and simply weed out unprofessional writers. You are not under any obligation to keep them hired.
Summing Up – As a writer or an outsourcer, an online writing business is profitable. Setting up an online writing business needs patience, both as an author and outsourcer.
The core of this business is “writing”; evidently, either you have to be an excellent writer to handle projects singularly or hire a team of excellent writers. Either way, both writing businesses are extremely profitable.