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Write World ‘Round – A Guest Article

world map for writersA Guest article by Benjamin Hunting

The world of the freelance writer is a particularly wide one when it comes to finding clients.  If you are a writer working primarily or even exclusively in the English language, it can sometimes be tempting to limit the scope of your project search to North America, with occasional forays into the U.K. or Australia.  Since these countries feature populations with a huge English-language majority, they are relatively safe bets when it comes to looking for work.

However, broadening your horizons can reveal a largely untapped market that awaits for more adventurous freelancers.  While Asia, South America, Africa and parts of Europe might not speak English as a first language, they definitely manufacture products and provide services to English-speaking populations around the world.  As a result, businesses in these regions often require native English writers to help them with product manuals, business reports, advertising copy and web content.

Project managers, who might speak English themselves but are not comfortable writing at the level required for their purposes, often seek out freelancers through the internet.  Since the pool of local writers fluent in English is usually quite small, online postings make the most sense for them in terms of them reaching the broadest audience of freelancers.  Frequently, they make use of online job boards such as Elance.com, Getafreelancer.com and Guru.com.  They also post jobs on Craigslist and some of the other writer-focused job boards.

International work as a freelancer is somewhat more challenging than that which can be found locally, but it is certainly not too difficult to be worthwhile.  The largest issues tend to be differences between time zones (which can be resolved through careful scheduling), and a lack of knowledge of local idioms and language use.  Clients are usually well aware of the latter, and often go out of their way to make sure that you understand which terms and phrases are common in their country as applied to their specific business.  If you really think about it, becoming familiar with various English dialects is really not all that different from learning the vocabulary associated with a trade or industry.

Clients overseas are often very happy to find reliable freelancers who can produce quality work.  Since English writers can be a scarce resource in certain countries, once you have an established relationship and reputation with a client then repeat work will flow your way.  Establishing a beachhead in a new country is also a great way to find fresh clients in that region by showing them examples of your previous work to prove to them that you understand their particular English-language writing needs.

Taking the blinders off and adopting a truly international approach to freelance writing is a great way to not only attract more business, but to also diversify your client list and protect yourself from putting too many eggs in one regional basket, financially.

Benjamin Hunting who writes, according to his website: Articles – both web and print, White papers, Technical manuals and user manuals, Advertising copy, Artist bios, Product and service reviews, Guidelines and procedures, Manuscripts for medical and technical journals, and Anything in between which also says he divides his time between Montreal and Boston.

Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • You should also be aware of the potential for scams/fraud when dealing with folks in other countries – getting partial or full payment up front is a good idea, or using an escrow if possible.

    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst 🙂

  • hazel

    Thanks for these thoughts, Benjamin – it gives me something to ruminate over the weekend …

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