How to Change Your Career and Switch to Freelance Writing
If you’re wondering how to change your career to freelance writing, you’ll need to learn about all the options you have and the steps you’ll need to take to get where you want to be. Since the pandemic's beginning, writing has become one of the most popular choices among job seekers looking for remote career opportunities and appreciating flexibility.
Are you one of them? Then we’ll tell you everything you need to know, including:
- Job opportunities for freelance writers—book writing, blogging, technical writing, you name it;
- Skills you need to work on to become a successful writer;
- Best places to look for remote writing jobs;
- Tips on promoting yourself and more.
Think Your Career Change Through and Weigh Your Options
If you’re considering a career change, the number one thing you need to do is think everything through. A midlife career change isn’t always easy, mainly if you’ve achieved a lot in your current career path and feel the pressure to stay on it. Getting into a new industry might be intimidating and look like too big of a risk.
But the fact you’re even considering a career change proves that you need to move on from what you’re currently doing. If you were pleased with it, you probably wouldn’t think of a writing business. Life is too short to do something you don’t love. So it’s time to explore new roles and career opportunities.
If you aren’t sure yet if freelance writing is indeed something you’re interested in, consider consulting a career advice expert. But if you are, you’ll need to choose what types of writing and industries appeal to you the most. A beginner freelance writer has tons of options. Research them all and try different things to decide what you want.
Books and eBooks Writing
Book and eBook writing is one of the best jobs for career change for someone who’d like to get into freelance writing. And before you feel intimidated, books don’t always mean fiction. No one expects you to write a novel with no prior accomplishments or work experience in writing. You can write travel guides, recipe collections, marketing eBooks, and other non-fiction content that qualifies as “books and eBooks.”
One of the things that place book writing among the best jobs for a career change in writing is that you’ll have longer-term projects compared to most writers. Job searching takes freelancers a lot of time. If you focus on shorter forms, such as articles, you’ll have to keep looking for new clients all the time. But not if you end up writing books. They take more time to complete and are generally well-compensated.
However, you’ll hardly get hired as a book writer without professional writing experience. It’s among the freelance writing segments that are harder to get into. So you’ll first need to invest in your career, gain enough experience, and build an impressive portfolio.
Article and Content Writing
Article and content writing is also among the best career change jobs for freelance content writers, but it’s much more beginner friendly. Suppose you don’t have much (or any) professional writing experience. In that case, you’re way more likely to get employed as a content writer than a book writer, even more so if you consider lowering your fee for the first few clients to build a decent portfolio.
Besides, article writing is excellent for writers with diverse knowledge and interests. As an article and content writer, you’ll have a chance to change your areas of expertise and the topics you write on as frequently as you want. And the longer the list of topics you write on, the more employers will be interested in you. Knowledgeable writers always get more interviews and job opportunities.
At the same time, having to look for new clients and projects constantly can get frustrating. So it’s better to prioritize those that supply you with a steady stream of work for a while. For example, choose the client who offers you to write twenty articles for them over someone who only needs five (even if the latter pays a bit better per page or hour).
If you’re still undecided on what kinds of writing jobs you’d like to focus on, consider trying them all simultaneously. The number of career options is what makes freelance writing one of the best change of career jobs. Consider starting your writing journey on one of the freelancing platforms and take on various types of projects to get a feel for all of them.
As a freelance writer, you ultimately control what you do (and what you don’t). If you use freelancing platforms, you get to submit applications for any job offers you like and let the clients choose between you and other freelancers. So try different types of copywriting and subject areas to decide which ones are for you eventually.
The only downsides of such freelance writing are the lack of job security and competition. Writing may be one of the best jobs for career change, but it also makes it appealing to many people. Due to the competition, it might be challenging to land an interview with a prospective client, especially if you’re just starting your freelance writing career.
If you’d like to avoid competition, consider technical writing. It’s a unique kind of writing that takes a specific person to succeed in it—someone with a deep knowledge of technical documentation (product manuals, project plans, API documentation, and so on) and, ideally, a background in tech.
As a result, most writers, who love writing for creativity and self-expression, don’t find technical writing appealing. It’s not the most common career change for writers, which also reduces competition. When applying for a job that involves technical writing, you can be sure that your job application won’t get lost in the sea of other applications.
Not everyone is a good match for technical writing, though. A recruiter or client looking for the right person will always prioritize someone with relevant education or professional background in the tech industry. Without those, you can become a technical writer, but it will be challenging.
Finally, blog post writing is what most people think of first when considering a freelance writing career change. Unlike technical writing, blogging is fantastic for writers who value creativity and want to show off their unique writing style. You can start and monetize your blog or write for others, but the former is way more rewarding.
The best thing about blogging is that you get to utilize your knowledge and previous work experience. The best blogs belong to people who write about something they love and have a qualification in. For example, if you used to be a nutritionist before you decided to switch to writing, you have a chance to start a well-informed and beneficial blog about nutrition. Your readers will appreciate your expertise.
The main downside of blogging is that writing is only part of it. You’ll also need to learn how to promote it, which requires SEO and SMM knowledge and isn’t easy. Besides, if you’re looking for the best career change jobs because you’re fed up with your current organization or entire industry, writing about it might not be something you’d enjoy.
Work on Your Writing Skills
Once you’ve decided what kind of writing is the best option for your freelance career, you’ll need to start working on your writing skills. These are some of the things you should try (but you’ll need to adjust them to the type of writing and knowledge areas you’ve chosen):
- Read up on different genre conventions;
- Practice structuring your writing;
- Learn about different writing styles;
- Study common editing styles (AP, Chicago, IEEE, and so on);
- Work on your subject and industry knowledge.
- Make the most of helpful career resources, including relevant writing courses (such as Technical Writing).
Most importantly, write as much as you can. One of the best career change quotes that apply perfectly to writing is “practice makes perfect.” And it’s a good idea to get professional help, even if it simply means asking your writer friend to read your texts and offer their feedback.
Become an Avid Reader
An underappreciated way to improve your writing skills is reading. Every good writer is an avid reader first. By reading as much as you can across various genres and topics, you’ll expose yourself to different writing styles, understand what works (and what doesn’t), and get better at structuring your texts.
Ideally, focus on the kinds of texts you’d like to write yourself, especially style-wise. If you’d like to become an academic writer, user guides won’t do much for your writing skills. A would-be technical writer won’t benefit from reading fiction or self-help books. Seek out the best examples of the kind of writing you’re interested in and learn from them.
Start a Blog or Another Online Platform to Promote Yourself
It doesn’t matter how skilled of a writer you are if no one knows about you. That’s why it’s a good idea to start a blog or website where potential clients can see your writing and decide if your writing style is a good fit for their projects. Internet search is how most people begin talent acquisition these days. So make yourself googleable.
Make your blog (or another platform you create for self-promotion) the most convenient way to get in touch with you. Add your resume for career change, make your contact name and other information easy to locate, and include enough samples to showcase your writing skills. And consider hiring a resume writing professional to ensure that your resume looks great and passes any applicant tracking system.
Where to Find a Job as a Freelance Writer
As challenging as a midlife career change into writing can be, it’s easier than ever in 2023. There’s no shortage of freelance writing jobs and platforms to find them. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Skillhub. Skillhub is an excellent place for writers because of how diverse its services are (from article writing to translation to resume writing and beyond). But the vetting process for new writers is quite serious on Skillhub and other professional writing services. So you’ll need to have enough skills and experience and a decent portfolio.
- Upwork. Upwork is most freelancers’ go-to place. It has tons of various jobs for writers of any kind. But with up to 1.5 million registered writers, the competition is tough there.
- Fiverr. Fiverr is Upwork’s top competitor and another great freelancing platform. It has countless job offers with fewer competitors. But the average hourly rate writers have there is lower.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is great for finding writing jobs if you value stability over flexibility. Use it for company research and contact recruiters of the companies you’d like to write for. Consider investing in a professionally written LinkedIn profile to ensure that it ranks high in the search results so that no hiring manager misses you.
Overall, a freelance career in writing might not be the most straightforward option when you’re looking for the best job for career change, but it isn’t the hardest either. The most important thing you’ll need to do is weigh all the pros and cons of different freelance job choices in writing (books, article writing, blogging, technical writing, and so on) and find the one for you. Once you do, focus on improving your writing skills and promoting yourself as a writer. You can do it!