Types of Freelance Writing: What Is Best For You?

Types of freelance writing
Several types of freelance writing: Which is for you?. Getty/CSA Images/Snapstock

Freelance Writing FAQ: What Type of Freelance Writing is Right For Me?

I have a question about all these different types of freelance writing. 

I'm excited about all this information you've provided, but I'm a little confused about which direction I should take. Should I be pitching magazines or trying to get writing jobs from the freelance writing job boards? Do I want to network with editors, or should I be schmoozing with companies? How do I know what my next step is if there are so many possible "next steps"?

Answer: Freelance Writing: Choose Your Own Adventure

Dear writer, TRUE! There are a lot of writing opportunities out there. Thank goodness for that, huh? I believe that's one of the big draws to the career. However, this may also cause a bit of hesitation on the part of some writers. 

At this site, I try to break down the types of writing into three discrete categories: copywriting, journalistic writing and creative writing. Of course, there's quite a bit of overlap, and some grey areas in my breakdown--I know that. But this is the simplest line that I can draw to educate new freelance writers.

  • Copywriting: Copywriting is (here) used as a catch-all term to describe the fact that you are writing copy. This copy may be ad/marketing copy, as in the more traditional sense of the word. But it also may be web copy, content for companies (business writing, tech writing) or content for publishers. Basically, it's writing pieces for businesses.
  • Journalistic writing: This major group covers writing for periodicals- whether they are trade magazines, consumer titles or newspapers
  • Creative Writing: This designation covers copy that is more, well, creative. Examples include greeting card verses, short stories written for contest money, and work-for-hire gigs such as wedding vows and funeral programs.

    So, where do you start? Well, that depends on two things: where you are right now and where you want to go.

    Who Should Begin With Copywriting?

    Many writers I hear from are at a sort of crossroads. Some have been laid off, while some are simply fed up and at the breaking point. If you're at a place where you need to put food on the table, I recommend that you begin with a copywriting career. This is because some kinds of copy work are easy to break into, offer quick turnaround, and can be high paying. Copywriting for the web can be a good target for those with little experience but a knack for writing, while those who have subject matter expertise can use that niche to get specialized jobs.

    Who Should Begin With Journalistic Writing?

    Being published in print is a badge of honor--it's a little harder to get into. Freelancers with a background or education in writing may want to set their sights here. In addition, I've noticed that people with 9-5 experience in PR, marketing or similar venues seem to have an easier time reading and meeting these editors' needs.

    Who Should Begin With Creative Writing?

    Do you write for the love of writing? Do you write mostly as a hobby? Creative writing might be for you.

    The outlets for creative writing are slightly fewer and pay less, but are a good target for the "writer at heart."

    Need more information about types of freelance writing? Check out this infographic on different types of freelance writers- such as contractors, moonlighters and so on.