It occurs to me that many of you reading this blog may have no idea what ‘freelance writing’ really is. What does it consist of? Who hires freelance writers? How does freelancing ‘work’?

This November, I’m writing a series of short blog posts that get down to the nitty gritty and answer your most basic questions about freelance writing. This week, the last installment of the series: How does freelancing work? (Don’t miss the first post: What is Freelance Writing?)

In my travels to conferences and events I encounter a lot of nurses and other people who are fascinated by my job as a freelance writer, but they don’t quite ‘get’ how it works. I’ve debunked common myths about freelancing (such as all freelance writers are starving artists), so I won’t waste time on that today.

Instead, I want to demystify this career for you. Here is how freelancing works at a very basic level.

If your only work experience has been as a nurse or employee, it can be hard to envision what a freelance career looks like. Freelancers are self-employed. They don’t punch a timeclock or receive a paycheck every two weeks from their employer.

Freelance writers work from home. They cultivate relationships with various clients and work on an as-needed basis. The client pays the writer based on a contracted rate. The rate may be calculated per word, per hour, by the project, or even on a monthly retainer basis.

In very general terms, the lifecycle of a freelance project goes like this:

  1. The freelancer contacts a prospective client OR a prospect contacts the freelancer.
  2. The two parties agree to work together to produce a work (this could be an article, a brochure, a case study, a regulatory document — anything the client needs written).
  3. The parties negotiate a rate and sign a contract.
  4. The client provides direction and guidance related to the project.
  5. The writer conducts all business required to complete the project (this could include interviews, background research — whatever you have to do to write the work).
  6. The writer delivers the work on deadline (or at the specified project milestones).
  7. The client’s team reviews the work and requests revisions.
  8. The writer makes the revisions.
  9. The client’s team signs off.
  10. The writer bills the client.
  11. The client pays the writer.

This is a very, very simple overview of the process. Successful freelance writers constantly engaged in Step 1 of this process, and very often freelancers are simultaneously working multiple projects at varying stages of completion.

I hope this post demystifies the freelance experience for you.

What other questions do you have about how freelancing works? Post them for me in the comments!

Wishing you well,

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