How to Define Your Job as a Freelance Writer

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not my job
Illustration by Ramiro Roman

When I first launched LittleZotz Writing, I would frequently get e-mails from visitors asking if I could design their website, create a flyer in Photoshop, or “whip up some background art” for their landing page.

While I was flattered that those people thought I was so artistic, none of the tasks I just mentioned have anything to do with my job.

But what does…?

I am a _________, and I ___________!

For me, the first blank in that sentence would be filled in with “writer.” It’s the second part of that sentence that’s harder to fill in. The obvious word would be “write.” However, I do much more than that.

The main thing to keep in mind is this: What do you want your job to be?

Whether you’re new to freelancing or have been working for yourself for years, these are the four questions you should ask yourself about your job again and again:

  1. What is it I ultimately want to be?
  2. Who do I want my clients to be?
  3. How much money do I want to make?
  4. How much time do I want to spend working?

[Bonus Question: What’s preventing you from achieving the above four? (Lack of
exposure? Not enough portfolio items? Too nervous?)]

Once you’re able to answer those four questions, it should be easier for you to fill in the second half of my “header” sentence up there.

It’s a Fine Line

There are going to be times when someone asks you to do something for them…and you won’t be sure if it’s a legitimate part of your job or not. I know that sounds strange, but trust me.

As a writer, web designing is clearly not my job…

But what about text formatting? What about finding pictures to go along with my article? Or editing the HTML to turn those photos into clickable affiliate links?

For me, I said “yes.”

…For an extra fee. (Whenever you do extra work, charge extra money — it just makes sense, right?).

You’re going to have to make your own decisions on those “fine line” questions.

Just remember not to stretch yourself too thin. You don’t want to risk being thought of as a “Jack of All Trades; Master of None” either!

Specialize.

And always remember that you’re working for yourself.

What do YOU want your job to be?

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2 thoughts on “How to Define Your Job as a Freelance Writer

  1. Haha, that image is so so accurate and absolutely hilarious. In my pet niche, I find a lot of my clients aren’t quite savvy with online marketing, but they love what they do – and they’re not always able to make the most of my blog posts because they don’t know how to effectively drive traffic to them after they’re published. I don’t mind giving clients advice, but it can take up a lot of time. I sometimes send them to the blog on my writing site, where I publish tips to help them learn things on their own so I can assist without wearing myself too thin.

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