Wondering where to focus your efforts to find well-paying freelance writing jobs in 2019?
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s not content mills or bid sites, and never will be. (Check out last year’s forecast, and I think you’ll see that’s been true for a while.)
If that’s where you’ve been spending your time, you’re only going to get more of the same crap freelance writing jobs.
The good news. There’s never been a better time to be a freelance writer. If you do it right, you can absolutely make a living writing.
Trade pubs and niche magazines always need writers. And every legit business trying to capture a piece of their market needs content: blog posts, web page copy, case studies, email campaigns, etc.
So what does the freelance writing jobs forecast look like for 2019?
This year, I’ve reached out to a wide variety of commentators, including other coaches, freelance experts, and working freelance writers — and you’ll find not all of them agree on what 2019 will bring. Check out these predictions from 10 experts to help you move up and earn more.
1. Marketing moxie makes a difference
Copywriting expert & author of The Well-Fed Writer
With greater competition from new writers entering the marketplace, a solid grasp of sales and marketing fundamentals will be the way to move ahead of the herd.
Rest assured, the four cornerstone principles below will always be relevant. Apply them in your work, and they will make you a better writer, marketer and business professional.
- Audience: To create an effective piece of marketing-communications material, ask enough questions to learn who you’re talking to, what’s important to them, what keeps them up at night and what will get them to take notice and take action.
- Features-benefits equation: Features are all the details about a product, service orcompany. Benefits are the things that matter most to a prospective buyer: profitability, competitive advantage, enhanced reputation, lifestyle benefits, etc. In any marketing materials, begin with benefits, follow with features.
- Unique selling proposition: What does your client’s product/service do better, faster or more effectively than the competition? Whatever it is, make sure any marketing materials targeted to your ideal audience talk about it.
- The curse of knowledge: Definition? “The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias, according to which, better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.”
The writing formula to engage readers
When marketing materials are wildly unclear or confusing, or assume readers know far more than they actually do, the curse of knowledge is at work. The antidote? Whenever you need to effectively convey information to someone else, step back from the project, and use this formula:
- If I knew absolutely nothing about this subject (very possible)
- Was in the middle of doing something else when this crossed my path (highly likely)
- Had a short attention span (a given), would I “get it” quickly? If not, rework it until you can say, “yes.”
2. It’s time to dominate your niche
Author, speaker, consultant, & entrepreneur
Make your own brand: Freelancers are bringing their name (and clout) to publications, not the other way around. Your voice will be even more important than the publications to which you contribute. The stronger your following from email newsletters, social media, or speaking, the more strategic you can be in charging for your services.
Double down on your niche: Seth Godin calls this going after the minimum viable audience. This year, make yourself known for a particular thing. I am both a freelance journalist and a successful entrepreneur, and that allows me to stand out with my unique perspective. Specificity is king.
Dismantle and package your services: My longtime colleague Jeanette Hurt and I wrote “The Passive Writer: 5 Ways to Earn Money in Your Sleep” to help freelancers value the skills they take for granted. Taking good photos, having strong interviewing skills, or other things we do every day can be separated and sold to help others. Passive and/or semi-passive income will be an even bigger theme in 2019.
3. Traditional freelancing will make a comeback
Freelance writer & brand marketing expert
Back to the roots of freelancing: I predict more freelance writers will get back to their roots: Writing. For several years there’s been a big trend toward multiple income streams, passive income, teaching and coaching, etc., but I’m seeing a lot of burnout among the writers who spread themselves too thin this way. Writers will start to realize that it’s easier, and more profitable, to focus on a handful high-paying writing clients than hundreds of students, book buyers, and so on.
More outsourcing: We writers will start offloading even more of what’s not in our core competencies, for example by hiring virtual assistants, using cheap transcription platforms, and hiring out pieces of our marketing.
The come-back of print pubs: Print never died, but it is coming back. Some portions of the print magazine industry did take a hit, but others, like branded publications and magazines from digital-first businesses, are taking off. So if you always wanted to write for magazines but felt it was a dying field, come take another look.
4. Podcast demand for freelance writers on the rise
Podcast content writer & coach
The power of podcasts: I predict that 2019 will be the year in which more freelancers find opportunities writing for professional podcast networks, both established and up-and-coming.
There are currently more than 550,000 podcasts being published on major apps like Apple Podcasts and Google Play – an exponential rise from even 2017, and these numbers are predicted to grow.
As listenership (both numbers and engagement) increases, the podcast world is becoming professionalized. While that makes life more competitive for indie podcast producers, it will provide fascinating opportunities for writers who understand how to write scripted content for the ear – a fundamentally different skillset than writing for the page.
Opportunities to write scripted content: Freelancers will have opportunities in both longform scripted content – i.e. story-driven episodes that are 22 minutes or longer – and in very short form content. Expect a rise, especially, in two- to five-minute podcasts, as networks increasingly distribute podcasts for smart speakers.
Keep in mind it can be as challenging to write a great two-minute story as it is to write an entertaining 30-minute piece. One final note: Writers who can also edit audio will be in greater demand than those without audio skills. Recording and hosting skills can also make writers more marketable, although these are less widely needed.
5. Multimedia copywriting gigs are here to stay
Survivor activist & storyteller
We will stop harping on how print publications have transitioned to digital, and recognize the value of multimedia stories.
We have seen articles developed into podcasts, live stage shows, TV shows and films – so we need to keep that in mind as we create and be savvy about placing our stories.
The world has changed and readers will continue to demand stories that reflect their experiences, penned by writers within their communities. Publications that ignore this will be less competitive and will be left behind.
6. Your success depends on niche marketing
The original copywriter’s coach
To land copywriting clients, you must stand out from the crowd.
There are nearly 134,000 copywriters looking for freelance work today. To compete in today’s marketplace, you cannot conduct basic, traditional marketing and hope to stand out from the crowd.
How to stand out from the crowd? The answer to this question lies within you; you must find your uniqueness. In addition, you must up your marketing skills and use today’s most sophisticated marketing tools and tactics if you want to work with the high paying clients.
To avoid the mediocre results of “me too marketing,” the copywriter will need to find that cross-section between what is unique about them that is also in demand among today’s savvy clients. Every copywriter is unique and even if 100 copywriters work in the same niche, none of them should have the same marketing plan.
7. Client education is the new client service
Founder of Nation 1099
A lot of freelancers are waking up to the fact that their prospective clients don’t have experience hiring and working with freelancers.
They don’t want reassurance on the quality of our work so much as they want reassurance that we will work well together. Successful freelancers make a virtue of necessity and design their marketing materials, their sales process and the service they provide to acknowledge this fact.
For example, if we sell them on a process they are comfortable with, then we are in a position more like consultants and guides, they are more likely to be buy, and they’ll pay a premium for it.
8. It’s time to leverage your personal brand
Entrepreneur, writer, content marketer
While more and more companies continue moving toward employing a contract-based workforce, it will also become more competitive.
Why? More people are making the shift to freelancing in order to meet that demand.
I think 2019 will be the year that (even more) freelancers realize the importance of having a strong personal brand.
Your personal brand isn’t just as a means to broadcast your personal opinions to the world. It’s an incredibly useful tool to differentiate yourself from the sea of other freelancers vying for the same jobs you are.
9. The freelance bubble is about to pop
Freelance writer & journalist
The freelancing bubble is close to popping. In exchange for freedom, flexibility and supposed perks of freelancing, there’s a saturated market.
Larger companies will lower rates even further and some, unfortunately, will continue paying freelancers late, if at all. This will cause a shift back into the traditional workforce for many.
The upside is freelancers who have a variety of relevant skills (print and digital) and can maintain business relationships will rise to the top.
10. 2019 is the year of community
Freelance Writers Den founder
I’m calling 2019 the Year of Community. If you’re serious about earning a living as a freelance writer, don’t do this alone! Writers who know going rates and what to charge earn way more.
Tap your writer community for freelance success
As the economy starts to wobble, it’ll be key to have a big writer community for referrals, rate info, and moral support. Watch out for the many online “faux experts” in freelancing, who’ve never worked through an economic downturn (i.e., they started freelancing after 2011). Instead, trust the wisdom of longtime freelancers who’ve known hard times.
Define your niches well and sharpen your marketing — it’ll be important, as laid-off workers flood the freelance marketplace and make easy, cheap writing jobs even lower-paid and harder to get.
Get off Upwork and learn to find your own better-caliber clients. Moving to more sophisticated products for bigger clients, such as client e-books, white papers, and content downloads will position you in the zone where rates will stay strong, no matter what the economy does. Former journalists will do well to re-task their skills for corporate storytelling.
This will be THE year for freelance writers to find support and experienced experts to follow, who’ve freelanced through a previous downturn. Don’t do this alone, as the economy begins to wobble! -Carol Tice
What are your freelance writing jobs predictions for 2019? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline, or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultramarathon