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Freelance Writing Job Categories

Writing Job CategoriesFreelance writing job categories are really in the eye of the beholder. They are fluid and over time evolve.

For example, when I first started freelancing the ‘net didn’t exist. Writers were dependent on publications like Writer’s Market, both the annual and the magazine to learn the business and find leads.

In fact, when I started we didn’t have computers, which meant although tech writing existed, it was a category for things like mechanical devices and documenting engines. These days, of course, you can get a certificate in tech writing and we find our gigs either on the ‘net or through web pages and email listings.

I mostly have categories in my head. I use them when I’m considering which jobs to accept and which to decline. I also use them when I’m doing marketing and just general planning.

Freelance writing job categories

Here’s how I mentally sort freelance writing job categories.

For myself or for clients

This is pretty obvious – is someone paying me to write for them, which includes publishers as well as business clients or am I writing for myself. If I’m writing for myself I split that into money earning or not.

One off or multiple

Here I mean will I be doing the writing only one time. This ranges from a short, but single blog post to a full length book. Or am I being asked to write on the same general topic by the same client multiple times. Recurring writing is great for establishing and adding to a base income. But there are all sorts of variables. Ghostwriting a book generally means monthly or quarterly payments adding up to a good total even though it’s a one-off project.

Top of my head or research required

There are some topics I can write about without doing any research while others take a ton. You’re probably in the same position. One truth is that much of what we write does require at least a little bit of research. Knowing roughly how much time you’ll spend finding out stuff helps you know what to charge for the whole piece.

Fiction or nonfiction

This might come first. Writing fiction is wildly different than writing nonfiction. Either can generate money and you can find clients who will pay you in both categories. Getting paid for nonfiction is easier than in fiction and many writers do both.

B to B or B to C

Business to business or business to consumer is another way to sort writing. This can be slippery. I have one blog I writer for a business that is marketing to a specific set of professionals. Another I write markets through professionals to consumers so I write both B to B and B to C posts for these folks.

Sorting by industry

Name an industry, from the tiniest one person shop to the biggest corporation doing whatever and you’ve also named a writing niche or category. Most clients look for writers who have some expertise in their industry. Some clients insist on a close match while others recognize a good writer can write about almost anything given the right information.

This is often the way most freelancers begin sorting their thinking on the kinds of writing they want to do. It’s valuable, particularly when it comes to marketing.

Sorting by genre

Genre is often thought of as a type of fiction, like mysteries or science fiction. I think it also applies to the reasons consumers hire writers. Memoire is one example, and a very popular one these days. Any book on any subject that a speaker wants to sell at the back of the room – often sales.

How do you sort freelance writing job categories? Is it useful? Or not?

Write well and often,


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