The term freelance was originally coined to describe medieval French and Italian knights who fought as mercenaries. The word now refers to certain self-employed individuals such as writers. A freelance business writer is an independent author who specializes in writing business and trade-related material.
A degree in journalism or communications is not necessary for a person to be successful as a freelance business writer, but it is important that he have good writing skills and a willingness to market himself. Successful writers can come from various trades, business fields and technologies. In fact, work in another field can help a writer break into a particular market. Someone with a medical background, for example, may wish to write health-related articles, website data for hospitals and clinics, and advertising media for medical supply companies.
A freelance business writer may write for traditional venues such magazines, trade journals, and newspapers, though there is generally more opportunity to write for individual businesses. Outsourcing specific projects which do not justify the cost of a full-time employee is a common practice, and producing written materials is often contracted out. Some of the jobs which a freelance writer can bid on include producing training materials and video scripts, direct mail copy, annual reports, employee and customer newsletters, catalogs and other advertising media.
A successful freelance business writer generally finds a niche or specialty to develop. Trade magazines are a great market for how-to articles, profiles of businesses that have successfully solved problems, and marketing tips for a particular industry. Other freelancers specialize in producing marketing materials for both traditional offline and online sales campaigns. Non-profit organizations generally maintain a small staff and may hire a freelance business writer to create grant proposals and donor campaign materials.
Some writers focus primarily on new media, producing articles or white papers for corporate websites. A white paper is a hybrid article that is part informational and part marketing, providing great research on a problem or topic for consumers while highlighting the advantages of the company’s product. These websites may also need ad copy or may offer a regular newsletter that can be supplied by a freelance business writer. Writers may develop their own informative websites, offering e-books and other materials. Many use a monthly newsletter as a method of increasing readership and a customer base.
The list of potential consumers is extensive and a writer does not need to get an article accepted by a national publication in order to break into the field. Local businesses, hospitals, colleges, universities, museums, advertising agencies and graphic design studios are just a few of the possibilities. Speech writing, press releases and copy for slide presentations, films and videos are additional niche areas.
Becoming a freelance business writer requires determination, time management, a willingness to learn and a thick skin. Rejections are to be expected, so the successful writer needs to focus on a broad field of potential markets. Many people enter this venture while still maintaining a full-time job, giving them time to develop a sustainable client base.