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Freelance Writing Companies

rich writersGoogle the term, freelance writing companies and you’ll find two kinds of sites – those like this one and others devoted to helping freelance writers and those that hire or broker the services of freelance writers.

Although I can’t prove it I strongly suspect that most of the companies that hire freelance writers and/or broker their services were started by freelancers who began to attract more work than they could handle. They began to hire other writers and found they preferred the creation and management of a company.

That’s not surprising. Two of my mastermind group have done just that. Both developed a reputation for ghostwriting books. One is known in the young adult/education market and the other in real estate and sales. As their work increased they began to reach out to other writers and subcontract to them.

Both realized after not too long that they had to make a choice between writing and managing a writing company and they chose building an organization. They now hire writers and have profitable freelance writing companies.

Should you start your own writing company?

Should you start your own freelance writing business? Maybe.

It’s tempting because one writer can only write so much in a year. Although there’s no theoretical limit on the income a solo writer can earn, there are some practical limits. Unless you become a truly best selling author, writing by yourself probably keeps you in the mid-six figure range or less.

As you max out your own ability to generate more writing and you’ve raised your prices to the limit of what your client’s are willing or able to pay, it seems to only make sense to farm some of the work out.

The trick is finding writers that don’t require hours of support and that you can afford. It doesn’t, for example, make any sense to charge $200 an hour and have to pay a writer $195 an hour. Five dollars an hour just isn’t enough profit to make it worth your time. That’s obvious.

But how much you pay a writer isn’t the only issue. My friends tell me they have real trouble finding writers they can afford that will actually get the job done well without much support or editing. For example, if you hire a writer at $50 an hour and you have to rewrite everything they do you still are behind or close to it.

Careful interviewing, checking references, asking for clips and developing an accurate gut feeling for picking the write people are all part of it.

Then there are the other aspects of running a business. Everything from accounting to marketing – all things the solo writer needs to do, but on a bigger scale. You’ll  have to get good at tracking income and expenses and tracking your time. Knowing both will put you in the position to honestly evaluate your results.

I know I don’t want to form my own writing company and hire others, but both of them thrive on the challenge. You might too, but think it through as best you can.

How about working for writing companies?

Working for a writing company can be a good deal for a freelance writer. You’ll find organizations in all sorts of categories who will hire you to write, from term paper mills through real academic writing, to resumes, press releases, real articles, ebooks and on to ghostwriting books.

You may be able to find companies like this with searches like ghostwriting companies, resume writing companies, etc. I’ve found them searching; I’ve found them answering ads and occasionally I’ve been contacted directly through my professional website, Anne Wayman.

However it happens you want the same sort of clarity working for a writing company or broker as you would on any gig.

You need to know exactly what’s expected from you. That includes the writing assignment, the deadlines, the review process and how it’s determined when the project is complete. You also want to know exactly what you’re getting paid for, when those payments will be made and how you’ll receive your money. Another question to at least ask is how your pay might increase as you prove your worth.

Usually there will be some sort of written agreement between you and the writing company. If it contains any prohibition about you writing similar pieces for yourself or other markets, consider it carefully. It may be you want to pass on any organization with such a requirement unless they pay a significant premium.

Working for a writing company can be a godsend for a freelancer, and like any other writing gig it can be a nightmare. Get your agreement in place before you do any significant work.

It’s also best not to work for only one company unless they are willing to pay you extra for exclusivity. Writing companies are just as likely to go out of business as any other small or mid-sized venture.

Look out for yourself – you’ll be glad you did.

Tell us your experience and thinking about freelance writing companies.


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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • As someone who has hired writers for the past 15 years, I concur with your point about the difficulty of finding highly skilled writers. When I find a good one I treat him or her like gold, because they ARE a precious commodity!

  • Nice article, Anne. I definitely think that working with people you know is the best way to understand how they work and whether they hold the same values as you. As to whether I would rather run a company than my writing business – well I like writing too much!
    Sarah Charmley recently posted..Book Review – Creative Writing: The Essential Guide by Tim AtkinsonMy Profile

  • I work with one such copywriting business that was started by a freelancer who needed more hands to complete the work that was coming in. I chose to work with this writing business because I already knew the person running it; we had worked together before. I suggest that freelancers looking into this kind of arrangement try to get to know the person you will be working for. Meet in person over coffee, regularly talk on the phone (or Skype) and definitely contact the other writers they work with before you agree to anything.

    • Yes, knowing who your working for is a great idea when that’s possible. Certainly phone conversations are… f2f may not be.

  • I’ve done my share of outsourcing to other writers. When my writing team was at its biggest, I was working with 12-15 people, but I soon realized that I didn’t enjoy having to spend more time managing and administering than writing. Now I have a short list of 2-3 people I can call on if I need to and I take on only what I can handle. Good points, Anne.

  • I’ve been under contract by three types of writer companies. There’s the content mill variety, like Demand Media, started as a business from day one; there is the writers who decide to start a larger organization and get into the content mill game, like Content Gurus; and there are the writers who want to have a pool of writers available and hope to attract enough work, like Castle Writers tried.

    Then there are the scams that promote themselves as a business and you end up loosing lots of work and almost get hit with charges of plagiarism . I had one called the Mezzinger Group that paid for work in the beginning but then became late and then stopped – I later found my work from them scattered on what is now Yahoo Voices and others.
    Bill Swan recently posted..Just What is Layaway Anyhow?My Profile

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