Let's play a compare and contrast game – a contract vs. a letter of consent. Are they the same?
If you’re new to the world of freelancing, you might come across the term “letter of consent” while negotiating an agreement. A letter of consent is one way for freelancers to document an agreement with a new client, but is it the best one? How does it measure up to a legal contract?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a letter of consent?
A letter of consent is an informal agreement between two parties. Where contracts are legally binding, letters of consent, or agreement, are not.
Letters of consent are common in situations where there needs to be only a casual acknowledgment of agreement that something is taking place, usually when the stakes are low.
For example, a letter of consent for a freelance writer might contain the names of both parties, the nature of the tasks assigned, and the method of compensation.
Usually, letters of consent are not used in a setting where money is changing hands. While it helps to have an agreement in writing, the client is not legally obligated to follow through on the terms, so you could very easily end up not getting paid for your hard work.
If you’re a freelancer and a potential client wants you to agree to a letter of consent rather than a contract, think twice. The terms of a letter are not enough to protect you if the working relationship goes south or your client refuses to pay. If you intend to get paid for your work, you should consider a contract instead.
What is a contract?
A contract, on the other hand, is a formal agreement between two parties that lays out the terms and conditions of an agreement. Legally, a contract must contain several elements: A purpose or offer, mutual acceptance of the agreement, the promises each party is offering, and the material terms and conditions, such as payment and deadlines.
The contract must also be signed by freely consenting adults in their right minds. While a contract must follow a much more specific format than a letter of consent, it’s also legally binding, meaning it offers you recourse if your client does not fulfill their end of the bargain.
There are many templates online to help you draw up a contract if needed. Contrary to popular belief, a contract doesn’t need to be written or approved by a lawyer to be valid. Of course, if you can have one look it over before you sign, that’s awesome! If not, just be sure to read through anything a client sends you carefully to make sure you agree to the terms.
A Contract vs. Letter of Consent
Letters of consent are okay when you’re doing pro-bono work where no money is being exchanged. As long as there are specific parameters in place to determine the amount of work, type of work expected, and what is being offered in exchange, a short letter between the two parties should be fine.
For example, if you agree to do some work for a client in exchange for promotion or a good reference, a letter of consent is likely all that’s needed. There is still a possibility that one party will not follow through with the agreement, but there is much less at stake than there would be with a paying job.
When we're talking about actual work for money, however, the safest bet is to go with an ironclad contract that explicitly lays out the work being done, the timeframe it will be done in, whether or not there will be edits made, and how those edits can be requested and returned. You should also cover consequences for nonpayment, such as a late fee for missing an invoice.
If a client doesn’t pay, you’ll have wasted valuable time that could have been spent on other, more lucrative projects. Even worse, one missed payment can be the difference between paying bills or struggling to get by for some freelancers.
At the end of the day, contracts offer much more protection for freelancers than letters of consent. As much as we all want to trust our clients, nonpayment is unfortunately a very real issue for freelancers across a variety of industries. Always insist on a contract when completing client work. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
When you’re looking for freelance writing opportunities, most potential clients will ask to see at least one writing sample before deciding to work with you. For newer freelancers, this can be a huge obstacle. After all, how do you build a freelance writing portfolio before you’ve actually gotten any writing assignments?
Luckily, you have a few different options when it comes to putting together a portfolio of writing samples. Here are 6 different ways you can assemble a freelance writing portfolio without a lot of experience.
1. Do some work for free.
While I’m a huge advocate for writers knowing their worth and getting paid for the work they do, when you’re brand-new to the freelance world, it’s not always a bad idea to do a little work for free. A business or website is much more likely to take a chance on publishing your work if they don’t have anything to lose by doing so.
A great way to do this is to pitch your services to small or local businesses that are looking to expand their online presence. You can offer to write blog posts or web content for them in exchange for being able to use that work in your portfolio later on.
If you’re having a hard time finding anyone in need of free blog posts or web content, feel free to take the lead! Conduct some research and write a few articles in your chosen niche to have on hand. You don’t have to pitch them to anyone; you just need to make sure they’re well-written and properly edited.
While some potential clients will ask for links to published writing samples, many just want to see an example of your work to evaluate your skill level and writing voice before they hire you. You can find plenty of freelance work just by showing you’re capable of producing quality writing.
2. Take some low-paying gigs to get your feet wet.
An alternative to working for free is to accept a few low-paying gigs in order to fill out your portfolio. Fiverr is a great place to look for these types of jobs. Fiverr is an online marketplace where “sellers” offer all kinds of services at varying prices and levels of experience. It’s great for newer writers because it provides some security in terms of ensuring you get paid and don't risk getting scammed or stiffed.
That being said, Fiverr may not be the greatest place to stay for long. When the platform originated, gigs were literally all just $5 USD (hence the name “Fiverr”) and most sellers offer their services at pretty low rates and most of the jobs you'll likely find there are pretty entry-level, low-paying, and in high demand. Fiverr Pro might lead to more work at better rates, but Fiverr Pro success stories like this one are, in my experience, exceptions to the rule and not the norm.
You can also check websites like Craigslist or job boards like All Freelance Writing, ProBlogger, and BloggingPro for low-paying or beginner-level writing work. As you apply for gigs and start communicating with potential clients, use your best judgment and try to target reputable people.
Remember that if something sounds fishy or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself by doing the smart thing and walk away if something doesn’t feel right.
Another option is to find an opportunity to write for a digital marketing agency. Many agencies specifically hire newer writers because they want to keep their prices low and less experienced writers can be paid a cheaper rate.
While you won’t make as much money writing for an agency as if you were pitching clients on your own, it’s a great way to gain a lot of writing experience in a hurry. Agencies usually have clients across a variety of industries, so you can work on your research skills while putting together a diverse portfolio. In the meantime, you’ll be getting paid consistently for your work.
4. Guest post on other blogs and publications.
Finally, you might want to look into guest posting on other blogs or online publications, especially if you have a blog for your freelance writing business that you’d like to advertise. Guest blogging not only gives you examples of published works to add to your portfolio, but also allows you an opportunity to link back to your own website and get your name out there.
Seek out bloggers in a niche you feel comfortable writing about, then send a personalized email asking if they’d be interested in a collaboration. Mention why you feel that your writing would be a good fit for their website, and include some ideas for what you’d like to write about.
In the case of online publications, look on business-targeted websites (for example, Business Insider or Entrepreneur Magazine) for instructions on how to pitch to the company’s editorial team and follow the instructions to a “T.”
With both of these options, the more you can show you did your research, the more likely a blogger or editor will be to give you a chance.
5. Use content from your personal blog or public writing account.
Using your personal blog content is a great way to showcase your work! Why? Because it's one of the places your unique writing voice and perspective will shine.
On your personal blog (or Medium profile or Tumblr, etc.), if you have one, you're likely not writing for anybody else. You don't need to try to match someone else's voice and you're probably expressing your own opinions and experiences. All of these things make you YOU and demonstrate your best writing skills. These are things that business owners, hiring managers, and editors are always looking for.
The one drawback to this option is that you're obviously not making any money for your work. But don't let that deter you from continuing to post regularly on your blog or writing profile. This is an invaluable place to let your personality do the talking and separate you from other writers vying for the same gigs.
PRO TIP: Medium is actually a great place to be found and possibly get some online attention. Check out this HubSpot article on how to use Medium effectively and possibly score yourself some exposure.
6. Write samples on your own freelance writing website.
You've got your own freelance writing website, right? Perfect. You have some amazing real estate you can put to good use.
While I don't advocate for putting personal stories on your professional website, generally speaking, I do think it's a great place to demonstrate what you can do. You should definitely have a portfolio page on your website with links to articles you've written. You can take it one step further and include a “kind of” blog, too.
Use a section of your website to write some sample articles on topics or niches that interest you. Better yet, write about writing. Here are a few ideas:
- Write about the differences between copywriting and content writing.
- Write about the types of writing you specialize in, such as social media posts, email newsletters, blog articles, or white papers, and how businesses can utilize them or why they need to be killing it with these content types.
- Write about copywriting or content-specific things you're learning or know about to demonstrate your knowledge, such as SEO, email marketing, Instagram best practices, scheduling tools for social media or email, and so on.
- Write a round-up listicle of things you find important to the success of your budding business – tools, habits, organization, anything you can think of!
- Do some research, find an article that interests you, and write on the same topic with your unique spin.
Not only will these pieces give a clear indication of your understanding of the things you're writing about, but they're also great practice. Writing more makes you a better writer.
While working to build a freelance writing portfolio might be a bit of an investment up-front, it’s worthwhile to spend some time assembling work you can be proud of. Not only will these writing samples help you gain experience as a writer, but they’ll also help you land higher-paying writing gigs as you grow in your career.
With all of the chaos happening in the world at any given time, it’s understandable for people to wonder about their job security. Fortunately, freelance writing is a career that can be done remotely from anywhere in the world, so it’s a business model that has withstood a lot of the turbulence that many industries are facing.
However, with such a strangely behaving job market and so many businesses cutting costs and still recovering from the Covid-19 shutdowns, is it even possible to make money as a freelance writer in the current economy?
The answer is yes. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. People are still buying things and spending money.
Although many businesses are struggling right now, life hasn’t come to a complete halt. People are still shopping, whether for necessities or just for fun! Online shopping is at an all-time high and many online retailers are seeing boosts in their business now that people are staying home.
In addition, the US sent a number of stimulus checks in 2020 to help restart the economy, giving many people the opportunity to invest that money back into their favorite businesses. Because of this, many companies are looking to increase their online presence, and they need freelancers to do it.
2. The demand for online content is higher than ever.
The internet is now the face of all businesses. Any business without a website in 2020 and beyond doesn’t stand much of a chance for long-term survival with very few exceptions. People are spending more time online than ever before in history: for work, shopping, and everything in between. This has greatly increased the need for solid copy written by talented freelance writers.
Many businesses that could have gotten by without a website in the past are now scrambling to develop their digital footprint and most of them don’t have the budget to hire in-house copywriters to do the job. Freelancers are still the most popular choice for many businesses looking for copywriters, bloggers, social media managers, and more.
3. Many businesses are either unaffected by the economic climate or thriving because of it.
There are certain types of businesses, such as law offices or medical suppliers, whose goods and services are more in-demand now than ever. While many small businesses may experience declines based on the state of the economy, there are other industries that are evergreen due to the necessary services they provide.
A few examples include:
- Repair services
- Public works
- Many types of retailers
- Information technology
While individual companies within these spheres might be feeling the effects of the recent crisis, these industries as a whole are a great place to look if you want to find stable freelance work, regardless of the global climate.
4. There's a need for highly-specialized writing.
With people spending more time online, there's a higher need for writers who specialize in specific forms of writing. This could mean developing a focus on one type of content, such as landing pages, case studies, product descriptions, social media captions, or long-form blog posts.
It can also mean narrowing your focus to a specific niche industry, such as asphalt paving or industrial automation. While it’s hard to break into an entirely new niche, it can be worthwhile to have a specialty that you can consider yourself an expert in – it could be the difference that helps you consistently make money as a freelance writer.
5. There is always a need for good freelance writers.
There are lots of people out there who fancy themselves writers, but they simply don't have the talent for it. Worse, there are people trying to write who have terrible habits – their work is full of grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation, or other mistakes.
If you’re a detail-oriented freelancer with great time management and communication skills, there are businesses out there that would love to work with you. Good talent is hard to find in any economy, but especially now that more people than ever are looking to make a living online. Set yourself apart by being a joy to work with and you’ll be surprised how far you can go and how much money you can make as a freelancer.
Getting Started and Make Money as a Freelance Writer
If you’re considering a career as a freelance writer, now is a great time to start. You’ll need to have writing samples prepared when you apply to freelance jobs, so be sure to have some on hand that are relevant to your chosen niche.
It helps to create a website in order to organize your portfolio and show clients you know your stuff. I have a whole blog post about how to make your own blog or website.
Not sure where to start or even how to be a freelance writer? Check out my freelance writing course, The Write Hustle. I’ll teach you how to get started and at the end of 6 weeks, you’ll be ready to sprout your own wings and fly off into the freelancing sunset.
Overall, freelance writing is a great way to build a skill set that you can utilize from anywhere in the world, whether you’re writing for a local business or a client halfway across the globe. No matter how the economy shifts, you’ll have an adaptable career that can grow and change along with you.
This article contains affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
Deciding to be a freelance writer is a dream for many people. The ability to work from anywhere and make your own schedule is pretty appealing, especially now, when it’s more common than ever to work remotely due to the novel coronavirus.
But not everyone is cut out for freelance life. Whether you’re looking to write full-time or just as a side gig, there are a few key traits that any good freelancer should have. Here are the most important qualities to develop if you want to pursue a writing career.
Freelance writing can easily get kind of chaotic, especially if you have multiple clients. A good freelancer knows how to keep their deadlines straight, whether that involves keeping a meticulous paper planner or using a project management software like Asana, ClickUp, or Trello.
Personally, I use ClickUp – which I only just started using recently. I like their paid version better than Trello (with whom I had an account for years and used it only sporadically) because I can switch between the board and list views.
Since working on The Write Hustle, my freelance writing course, ClickUp has been a game-changer. It’s helped me keep track of what I need to get done every week for the course as well as ensure I’m keeping tabs on all my work for my own freelance writing clients.
I also use my Google calendar and set up daily reminder emails to keep track of my own content as well as my clients’ content. Between these two systems, I keep my freelance writing business on track.
When it comes to freelance work, there’s no manager checking in to make sure you’re writing at any given time. It’s easy to get distracted by other tasks you want or need to get done (hello, Netflix and all the books I’m trying to read!), but you need to have the discipline to work – even though it’s always easier (and tempting!) to nap or watch TV!
A freelancer should have solid time management skills, especially if you’re writing as a side hustle. It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance when you work from home, so you’ll need to make sure you can get your work done on time while juggling all of your other responsibilities.
It’s not always easy, but setting up consistent routines can help you get into the groove. I’ve found that having specific days where I focus on certain clients or projects really helps me to not only stay organized but know what’s coming up every week. I use my ClickUp and Google calendars religiously.
Often, writers who write for agencies or big companies will have an editor to look over their work before it goes live. When freelancing, however, you have to be your own editor. It’s important to have a good eye for detail so you don’t send over work that’s riddled with mistakes.
Not everyone is a natural perfectionist, though, and that’s okay. Thanks to spell check, the burden on you is significantly reduced. Of course, spell check alone isn’t enough to guarantee a perfect article. Read everything over several times before you send it to a client to detect any grammar or syntax mistakes that spell check might have missed.
My biggest tip is to read your work aloud. It makes you feel a bit stupid, but it works like a charm. Sounding out your sentences gives you a better idea of how they flow and grammatical errors can be more jarring when you hear them than when you read them.
If you really want to get fancy and be extra-sure of your work, try reading paragraph-by-paragraph from the end and read in a pattern of 3 to 4 words at a time. Each sentence takes on a new cadence and, believe it or not, you’ll spot things that feel or sound awkward (or straight up don’t make sense) better than you will if you’re just reading straight through from beginning to end.
Once you’ve read “backwards” and have made changes, start again from the beginning and read it aloud naturally to ensure everything still makes sense.
If all else fails, try giving yourself some time between finishing your piece and sending it to the client so you can look it over with fresh eyes before submission. Sometimes being too close to the work can blind us to otherwise obvious mistakes.
While some people might think freelancers sit at home in their pajamas all day, freelance writing is a job like any other. You have to take your own work seriously if you want your clients to treat you right.
Be on time if not early. Never send work late – I live by this rule: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” Sending work after the deadline you’ve agreed on is a no-no.
Be courteous and respectful in emails and conduct yourself the same way you would if you had a boss looking over your shoulder. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Your clients will respect you more if you stick to your rates and take pride in the work you do.
Freelance work ebbs and flows. One month your calendar might be booked solid, while the next… crickets. Factors like holidays, time of year, or current events can all affect the number of freelance jobs available at any given time.
That said, there is always a need for freelance writers. There is a place for every story and plentiful opportunities across the internet. Sometimes you have to hit the virtual pavement to find new gigs, but it’s doable.
If you want to rely on freelance work as a source of income, you’ll have to be resourceful and manage your workload so you’re never left with no (or not enough) money coming in. Sometimes this involves spacing out client work so you’re not overwhelmed all at once, but other times all you can do is make sure to have a savings cushion to get you through the lean times.
6. Great Writing Skills
Last but not least, the obvious answer: In order to succeed as a freelance writer, you have to have strong writing skills.
The good news is this can be learned! Writing for the web is different from creative writing or journalism. The flow is very conversational and as long as you have a solid grasp of spelling and grammar, you should be able to learn the rhythm with a little practice.
If you want to improve your writing, there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn. Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare are three big-name online education platforms with plenty of writing courses. Hubspot Academy is another great website to learn about writing for the web.
While not everyone is cut out to be a freelance writer, it’s possible to learn if you have the drive. With a little dedication, you can master these skills and start earning money while living the freelance dream.
This article contains several affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
Starting a blog is a great way to bring in additional income for military spouses, remote workers, and everyone in between. It can be done from anywhere in the world and all you need to get started is a little time and determination. While it’s difficult to become a major influencer in this day and age, it’s not hard to monetize a blog.
Many companies are willing to work with micro-influencers with a small but loyal following, not to mention the other money-making options you have at your disposal, such as affiliate links, ebook or digital course sales, and more. If you want to get started on a blog of your own, here are 6 tips to help you get started.
1. Choose a specific topic.
You’ll have a much easier time attracting an audience as a blogger if you have a specific topic that your blog is about. Choose a niche, such as fashion, books, food, or crafts, and make sure the bulk of your posts are about your chosen topic.
While you can branch out with off-topic posts on occasion, it’ll be hard to keep an audience if every post is about something wildly different. By choosing one main topic, readers who are interested in that topic will want to stick around.
2. Host with WordPress.com.
WordPress makes it easy to get started with a blog. Once you make an account, you can choose from a selection of templates and customize them to match your vision. You can start for free or choose a very affordable annual plan for as little as $48 a year.
WordPress is easy to navigate and highly popular, which means there are tons of resources out there to help you make the most of it. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular blogging platforms around.
3. Find a “dot com” domain.
You’ve probably seen a variety of different domain types, but for your blog, you’re going to want to go with a “.com.” It’s reputable, but most of all, that’s the default most people associate with a website. It’s easier for people to remember a “dot com” domain than any of the other options, even options like .net or .biz.
Try testing out different domain ideas with Google Domains to see what’s available before getting too attached to a name for your blog (but don’t buy from Google!). Ideally, you want the domain to match your blog name and it might take some trial and error for you to find one that’s available.
When you find a name that’s available and you’re happy with it, hop back over to WordPress and get started setting up shop.
4. Use free stock images.
As a blogger, you can get in some serious hot water by just using photos you find on Google Images. The best way to avoid a lawsuit is to use photos that are free for personal and commercial use.
You can find these on free stock photo websites, such as Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay. Be careful to read the licensing restrictions on each photo you download, however. If your blog generates any kind of revenue, you’ll have to stick with commercially licensed stock photos.
5. Create on multiple platforms.
The fastest way to grow your audience is to expand your web presence to different platforms. By increasing the number of places you can be found, you’ll increase the odds that new readers will stumble across you.
Social media is a great place to start as it allows you to interact with readers and other bloggers alike. Friendships forged on social media can lead to long-lasting connections and even business collaborations down the line.
Potential sponsors take social media following into consideration when deciding which bloggers to work with, so growing your audience is important for that reason as well.
6. Be consistent.
Finally, it’s so important to be consistent with your content and your posting schedule. If you don’t post for a long period of time, your readers may assume you’ve abandoned your blog and stop checking back for updates.
Regular posts, on the other hand, will keep your blog fresh in their minds, and they’ll know they can expect new content from you on a regular basis. Consistency is key to attracting and retaining a loyal audience.
Consistency also plays a huge role in search engine optimization (SEO). When people do a search on Google, SEO determines the order in which results come back for each search. The big goal for bloggers and marketers is to land on the first page of search results. This is a big topic that takes a lot of time to understand and it’s not a short-term game – good SEO takes time – but it pays to know that keeping your blog consistently active is an important part of the deal.
Starting a blog requires a significant up-front investment of time and energy, but once the initial legwork is done, it’s a great way to put your writing out there and share your thoughts with the world. With hard work and determination, you can turn your blog into a source of income in no time.