Are you fed up with your safe yet boring 9-5 job? Do you enjoy writing? Do you find research articles from academic journals fascinating rather than intimidating? If you answer yes to all of these questions, perhaps, you might consider becoming a freelance academic writer.
It’s an in-demand and challenging career that will give you more flexibility without putting your financial security at risk. So here’s everything you need to know about your options in the academic writing industry.
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What’s So Good About a Freelance Career
If you hesitate to try freelancing, the answer is yes. Freelance writing comes with tons of benefits, and academic writers get to enjoy them. According to Crowd Content experts, who are successful freelancers themselves, here are just a few of them:
- Flexibility. An independent contractor decides when to work, how much money to make, and when to try a new line of work. No other career is so flexible.
- Diverse projects. Are you someone who gets easily bored and hates routine? Then being an independent contractor is a fantastic option for you. Whenever you get bored, you can try different projects to switch things up.
- Ability to work from wherever you want. This one can also be true for remote work. But most remote workers are still expected to visit the office occasionally (for example, for an event); freelancers aren’t.
- Agency. Finally, one of the best things about being an independent contractor is that you get to refuse to take on the projects you don’t like or don’t want to complete at the moment. It’s all up to you, which is very empowering.
Over the past few years, freelance work has become more popular than ever: 67% of the people who identify as independent contractors say that they’ve switched to freelancing in the last three years. Demand for their services is also rising, so now is the perfect time to try freelance work if you haven’t already.
There are quite a few freelance academic writing careers to choose from. But the most obvious and common among them is from-scratch writing, which implies composing original text based on the instructions. If you have credentials in a certain field, especially STEM, this also tends to be the best-payed option.
Academic Writing Genres
The texts that academic writers create vary in terms of length, complexity, and genre. Beginners often start with student essays, while experienced professionals can focus on more challenging assignments, including conference papers, Capstone projects, and even Ph.D. dissertations.
Different Target Audiences
You can choose your target audience based on the genres you’d like to work in. Essays and course papers are common choices among students. In turn, you’ll need to work with established scholars and active researchers to write journal articles and conference papers.
Many lack writing skills or are ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers. So you’d be surprised how common it is for successful members of the academia to hire professional writers.
Editing is another popular career choice in academic writing. Instead of composing from-scratch texts, editors give article writing tips and, most importantly, polish the content they receive from the client. It’s perfect for people with great attention to detail who are not afraid of monotonous work. The most common editing types are substantive and mechanical.
Substantive editing isn’t about fixing minor grammar issues or inappropriate word choices. It’s more about looking at the text and improving it on every level. For example, one of the critical things for the quality of journal articles is their structure. A contractor offering substantive editing services is responsible for ensuring it’s perfect.
In turn, mechanical editing is about less fundamental flaws in the texts. As discussed, many academic writers’ clients are ESL speakers who might have exceptional subject area knowledge but struggle with writing in their second language.
Their texts are guaranteed to include numerous mistakes in style and mechanics, and it’s the mechanical editor’s job to fix them. Formatting issues, such as referencing and spacing, are also among the editor’s responsibilities.
Research and Fact-Checking
Finally, the third major career line within academic writing. Students and scholars who have just started their academic careers are often insecure about their subject knowledge and research skills. They are rightly concerned that a single factual mistake might cost them their entire career.
That’s why they hire a fact-checker with a background and credentials in their field. Such a professional can occasionally suggest edits, but their primary responsibility is to fact-check everything the client has written. It’s a dream job for people who respond with “googling” to the “what’s your hobby?” question.
To Sum Up
If you’d like to switch to academic writing, now is the best time. The global freelance market is booming, and you won’t be out of a job soon. What’s more, an independent contractor specializing in academic texts has options. You can write from scratch, edit, or fact-check (or all of the above). And you also can decide what audience you will target—students or scholars.
Once you decide and need help with your resume, contact Skillhub—we’ll ensure you attract as many clients as you want.
- Will I have financial security if I drop my career to become an academic writer?
Seeing how great the market is, you will. There’s no shortage of work. What’s more, one of the things that most (76%) independent contractors appreciate the most in their approach to work is that they get to decide how much money they make. When they need more, they simply take on more work.
- What are the drawbacks of being a freelancer?
It can lack stability, especially during the “low” parts of the year, meaning December and throughout summer. Also, 92% of independent contractors admit they can never put work away entirely, even on vacation.
- Where can I get my first orders as an academic writer?
Skillhub, Upwork, Fiverr, and iWriter are all great options. Also, as Redditors recommend to Atlas_Undefined on Reddit, creating one’s website to showcase one’s writing and attract clients is a great idea.
Atlas_Undefined. “How do I get started as a freelance writer?” Reddit, 18 Jul. 2021.
Gilbert, Nestor. “405 Freelance Statistics for 2023: Market Size, Profile Data & Salary Rates.” Financesonline.com, 16 Feb. 2023.
Parker, Alvin, and Alvin ParkerHey. “17+ Best Sites for Freelance Writers (Updated for 2023).” Prosperity For All, 10 Jan. 2023.
“Substantive vs. Mechanical Editing: What You Need to Know.” Knowadays, 6 Jan. 2023.
Wallace, Nissa. “9 Benefits of Freelance Writing – Content Creation Advice.” Crowd Content, 29 Nov. 2022.