A common piece of freelance writing advice when they’re starting out is to make sure you have safety work, or (in other words) work that you can rely on each month, usually secured with a contract. But when do safety freelance jobs start to drag you down more than it supports you?
It might make sense at first…
Having reliable work coming in each month is vital for early career freelancers, especially if you’re low on contacts to start like I was. I had two forms of safety freelande jobs when I first started my freelance business in March 2020, both of which could be good options for you.
The first was contracted work each month of a set amount of hours, with a notice period. The notice period is important because it means you won’t be left hanging without work suddenly. For freelancers, two weeks is a common notice period length, but you can sometimes negotiate for longer depending on the scope of your work.
The second type of safety freelance jobs is regular work where you can pick up assignment as and when you choose, like from agencies or similar. I had a form of editing work where I could specify which days I would work in advance and how many words of editing I wanted to do that day. The flexbility of these kinds of roles is great: if you’re slow on work, you can pick up more, and vice versa.
The difference between a safety net and a drag
Where I started running into issues was when I started to pick up other clients and also started to increase my rates. The work you first pick up as a freelancer might be not quite your ideal client or work and it might also end up being less than your ideal rates. Working out your rates as a freelancer often has a steep learning curve, so don’t be surprised if you undersell yourself in the first few months.
Now, your safety work that was your safety net in your early career might begin to feel like a disadvantage, earning you less money for the same amount of work and being a time commitment that you no longer need. But how to solve the problem?
How to start spreading your wings
This is why it’s vital to be continually reassessing your work. Is there another contract that you’ve picked up since your first safety freelance jobs contract that could offer the same security at a better rate? Do you have a consistent client that you haven’t secured a monthly contract with, but might be able to down the line? Could you negotiate for a better rate or greater scope of work from your original safety freelance jobs?
Any of these solutions are ways that your freelance jobs can grow with you. The best piece of freelance writing advice I can give is to always ask and keep an open dialogue with your clients. You never know what opportunities might pop up until you ask. Above all else, don’t stay in a dead-end contract or with a client that doesn’t bring the same level of fulfilment as they used to if you don’t have to. You’re your own boss now, which means you’re in charge of your own development. Own that responsiblity and that privilege, and it can take you far.
Are you starting out in your freelance career, but need some help finding your direction? Take a look at the range of career services I have on offer, from LinkedIn optimisation and CV/resume writing to career direction consultations. I managed to start and sustain a freelance writing business during a global pandemic, with just a few contacts and a lot of hard work. Benefit from my general career and freelancing writing advice and skills to help jumpstart your freeelance career.