Side jobs for professionals are a dime a dozen. Good side jobs, on the other hand, are hard to find. As a working professional you’re probably already making decent money. So you likely want any side hustle you start to promise to pay at least as much, if not more, than what you’re making now.
Luckily for you, there is exactly such a side hustle out there for you: Writing. Freelance writing can realistically offer a significant supplement to virtually any professional income. Continue reading below to find out why writing is the best and most accessible side job for professionals available today.
Types of Professionals with Side Jobs
Not all professionals are well-served by having side jobs. In particular, well-paid professionals who are working at capacity are probably not going to need or want a side hustle. After all, why would a lawyer who’s earning $400 per hour want to start a freelance writing gig when she could just bill additional hours for more money?
However, many professionals are either not working at capacity or are not very well paid. Teachers are an excellent example. Many of them either do not work full-time because they’re just starting their careers in a substitute or supply role or are not very well-paid (particularly in the American public school system).
Public employees generally are likely to benefit from a side job. Assistant district attorneys and public defenders, public accountants, middle managers of public authorities, and civil servants of all stripes are usually salaried employees with few opportunities for additional income. A side job for these professionals can be the best, indeed the only, way to bring in more money.
Even those professionals who work in the private sector might sometimes benefit from a side job like freelance writing. Writing can typically be done from home and at any time of day. The deadlines are usually more flexible than those associated with, say, family medicine or tax accounting. In other words, writing fits well around an already existing schedule.
In sum, a wide variety of professionals stand to benefit from side jobs. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, teachers, nurses and medical technologists, and most government professionals are in a prime position to take advantage of their credentials, credibility, and expertise to earn extra money on the side.
Benefits of Side Jobs for Professionals
There are a number of benefits to side jobs for professionals. Some are obvious while others are a little more subtle.
- Money – This one is definitely the most obvious. An additional source of income means more money. And who doesn’t want more of that?
- Income Diversification – As a rule, the more sources of income you have, the more secure your financial position is. If you lose your job for any reason, if your hours are cut, if your union goes on strike, or if you move, you’ll have another source of income to fall back on.
- Remote Work – Freelance writing is largely a remote discipline. You find and do your work online. This means you can do it from anywhere in the world you can access a computer and an internet connection. No matter where you move, you’ll have access to income.
- Networking – Most people who write on a freelance basis end up specializing in their main area of expertise. This introduces them to other professionals in their field and expands their professional networks.
- More Interesting Work – Many people benefit from doing two different, but related, types of work. Their daily routines feel less monotonous when their tasks are divided between their day job and their side hustle.
Professional Freelance Writing
I’m not going to waste your time talking about professional side “jobs” that bring in a few dollars an hour once expenses are taken into account (I’m looking at you, Uber). As a professional, what you’re looking for in a gig is significant new income on a flexible schedule you can adapt and fit around your current home and work responsibilities. For most people, only writing fits that description.
Yes, there are other gigs that will work for some people. People highly-skilled in various unregulated niches like programmers, data scientists, and graphic designers can certainly make a pretty penny doing what they’re good at on a freelance basis. But the fact of the matter is that most people don’t have these skills. Writing, on the other hand, is something many professionals can do reasonably well.
Technical Requirements for Freelance Writing
You don’t need much to begin writing on a freelance basis:
- A desktop or laptop computer
- An internet connection
- A quiet place to work
- A reasonably well-developed ability with the written word
And that’s about it. If you have those things you can supplement your professional career with a writing side job.
Categories of Freelance Writing
There are innumerable categories of freelance writing. From journalism to grant writing to whitepapers, the variety of available jobs is limited only by the needs of clients. During my short freelancing career, I’ve written everything from email campaigns for small businesses to an apology note between partners in a firm.
Generally speaking, though, the major categories of freelance writing include:
- Blog writing
- Article/Feature writing
- Social media content creation
Because of the explosion in content marketing (click the link if you’re unfamiliar with that term), many freelance writers (including me) started with blog writing. Freelancing sites (more on those next week) are riddled with postings looking for inexpensive blog content creators.
As a general rule, you’ll find that blog writing pays less than most other forms of freelance writing. That’s particularly true at the beginning when you lack marketplace credibility and experience. But certain kinds of blogs (those with high readership and those in rarified niches) pay reasonably well.
How Much Does A Professional Writing Side Job Bring In?
As for all side jobs for professionals, the answer to the above question is, “It depends.” It depends on the day, the writer, the client, the audience, and the economy. However, I’ll try to give you a rough idea of what the “average” person can expect to earn as a freelance writer.
If you follow the approach I took, you’ll begin by making peanuts. On average, you can expect to earn about two cents per word and crank out about 500 words per hour. After a month or so you’ll be able to find enough work to fill about five hours per week, netting you a grand total of $50 per week.
However, you’ll quickly find that your ability to keep up with the work at these low rates lags behind. So you’ll go through several stages of raising your rates, each time increasing your overall income. After three to four months of consistent marketing effort and positive client feedback, you should be able to regularly earn at least ten cents per word. If, at the same time, you increase your output to approximately 1000 words per hour, you will be earning $100 per hour. And if you’re able to find at least ten hours of work per week (which is not a herculean task), you’ll be able to take in about $4000 per month.
Of course, your mileage may vary. The folks who have inadequate writing ability and subpar client skills will consistently struggle to take in even a few hundred dollars per month. Others with impressive credentials, excellent marketing, and superb writing talent will make much more than $4000 per month. But, based on my limited experience, $4000 per month within six months is a realistic goal to set for reasonably skilled professionals who seek to succeed at their new side job.
For my next post, I hope to explain the first steps that you might take to dip your toe into the professional freelance writing game. I’ll discuss the strategies to pursue, the skills to master, and the resources to use. In the meantime, feel free to have a look at the services I offer for an idea of the kinds of work freelance writers provide to the public.