The Scarcity Myth, Persistence, and Corporate Freelance Writing Jobs

There’s a myth out there about corporate freelance writing jobs that I’d like to bust. Namely, that they are more difficult to find than other freelancing jobs–especially in a troubled economy.

Usually, the scarcity myth goes something like this: “Companies are laying people off. That means there will be fewer jobs for us freelancers. You know how bad the economy is…” (I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard this concern expressed in freelancing circles.)

Yet, for many companies the exact opposite is true. They’ve let people go, but they still have the work to do. Guess who gets to do that work? (If you guessed “a freelancer,” then you’re on the money. 🙂 )

It’s often easier for a corporation to hire a freelancer than an employee because they are accounted for differently. An employee is usually considered to be overhead since they must be paid whether there is work, or not. (And, don’t forget about all the benefits that companies pay their permanent employees…)
A freelancer, on the other hand, is an independent contractor. Their work can be expensed directly to the specific project that they are working on. When that project is over, the freelancer is no longer paid.

Where Does the Scarcity Myth Come From?

If you think about, it’s easy to see where the scarcity myth might come from. We live in a society where we are used to getting results, and quickly.

We go through a drive-by window at our favorite fast food and restaurant and within minutes, we have a hot meal in our hands. We see an ebook online that we like, pay our money, and within seconds we can download and read the entire book. Likewise, if we want to purchase a new ringtone for our cell phone, what do we do? We pay and within a few minutes, we have what we want.

Many of us tend to look for instant gratification in our hunt for freelance writing jobs as well. We apply for a single job and then wait to see if we got it. When the job doesn’t pan out, quite naturally we are disappointed.

Well, hunting for freelancing writing gigs doesn’t usually work that way. It especially doesn’t work that way for larger clients who are willing to pay more money. You can’t just apply for a single writing project and expect to get it every time. Sometimes you are going to be rejected.

What Does Work?

While a few lucky writers may find a freelance corporate writing project on their first or second try, most of us will need to be patient and put forth a lot of effort before we see results.

A friend of mine used to say that hunting for jobs was a numbers game–the more time you spent looking the more offers you would receive. While this old adage isn’t a hundred percent accurate (it’s also important to implement a strategy), there is a grain of truth to it.

Bottom line:
you won’t find a higher paying freelance writing job unless you look are looking for one.

Persistence and the Freelancer

When it comes to the job hunt, persistence pays off.

What this means for the average freelancer is simply this: don’t give up.

Do your homework and follow through on any leads that you find. Network and build relationships with those in companies and with other writers. Polish up your credentials, take a class, or join a writing society.

I know it’s a lot of hard work, but trust me–your hard work is not in vain. Typically, I get an inquiry from a prospective client just when I am getting most discouraged. You may have a similar experience.

Feedback Time

Do you buy into the scarcity myth? Do you believe that good freelance writing jobs are harder to find than they used to be? Why, or why not?


13 responses
  1. LIsa Avatar

    YES! This is true not only of corporations but also of non-profits. There is plenty of work, but not enough confidence to hire someone fulltime with benefits – so we contractors are in high demand. This is exactly what happened right after the 2001 recession, and it’s happening now, too.


    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks for the confirmation Lisa. 🙂

      I suspect that the principle holds true for many fields of writing.
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

  2. kimberlee Avatar

    I actually witnessed exactly what you described. Most of our magazine staff was laid off last year–copywriters, a staff writer, editors–and all of the work has been outsourced to freelancers. I’d say that when full-time gigs disappear, they most certainly go to freelancers, particularly in the publishing and design industries.

    I’ve also had the experience of feeling discouraged and suddenly there was a break through. The truth is that the breakthrough wasn’t sudden at all but rather a result of my previous hard work.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks for sharing that Kimberlee.

      That should be an encouragement for anyone who is looking for magazine work…

      You’re right to point out that a writer must work consistently and steadily to market themselves.
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

  3. John Soares Avatar

    My main freelance writing niche is college textbook publishers, and I haven’t seen any significant slowdown in projects.

    I strongly encourage writers to focus on a specific area of the business world. Once you’re in, you can make excellent money.
    .-= John Soares´s last blog ..Four Ways Writing Well Helps Your Freelance Writing Career =-.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks John!

      I expect many freelance writers will chime in with the same findings…

  4. Benjamin Hunting Avatar

    I find that the majority of people who tell others that they can’t succeed in a given field for a particular reason are often influenced by their own fears. Freelance writers – any entrepreneurs, really – have to be able to move past the fears of others and concentrate on working hard on their own success.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Outkast’s Stankonia – 10 Years Later =-.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Well put Benjamin, and well worth remembering. 🙂
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

  5. Derek Thompson Avatar

    I think a lot of corporates are set on getting interns. It’s short term economics though because you get what you pay for (or don;t pay for).

  6. Derek Thompson Avatar

    I think a lot of corporates are set on getting interns. It’s short term economics though because you get what you pay for (or don’t pay for).

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks Derek!

      I’m sure that you’re right–some companies may use interns. But, it takes a long time to bring an intern up to speed. Often, the time spent training an intern is nearly the same as the time it would take to do the projects.

      In contrast, a good freelance writer is typically an experienced professional who needs a minimum of training and oversight.
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

  7. Usman Zuberi Avatar
    Usman Zuberi

    Well, I’ve been doing the drill since quite few months now but didn’t get the fruits yet. Tried with different sites with and witout patience but still not able to come across the gap thats actually not filling in order to get myself a good freelance earning.

    Can someone help me in this regard?


    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Good question Usman!

      Without knowing the specifics of your situation or what kind of writer you are, I would say that if you have been trying the same thing over and over again with no results–try something different.

      For example, if you have focused your efforts on job boards and that doesn’t seem to be working for you then try cold calling. If you have been looking for a particular type of writing job, maybe shift your focus a little.

      Hopefully you will find something soon.

      Best wishes!
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

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