A Difficult Choice: Working for a Company or for Myself
There are three primary ways that academic writers can earn money in their profession:
- The first, and most common, way is to work for an established academic writing company.
- The second way is to make use of established freelance networks such as freelancer.com / odesk.com / elance.com and find individual clients that way.
- The third way is to form their own academic writing company and work as one of the writers (if not the only one).
Knowing more about these different options, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, can help you plan your career as a freelance academic writer.
Similarities and Differences
The main similarity between these three ways of earning a living as an academic writer is that you’re doing the same basic writing work in each case. That’s where the similarities end. Let’s look at some of the more significant differences.
The rate of pay is different in each case, but it is impossible to make blanket statements about which method brings in more cash. Certainly, working for an established company with a reasonable per-page rate of pay will bring in more money at the outset, hands down. Finding clients who will pay is extremely difficult, and companies work hard for many years to establish clienteles and reputations – work that benefits the writers as much as the company owners. Having said that, if you are willing to hunt down your own clients, either via freelance sites or your own site, and patient enough to wait the many years it will take to establish your business, your rate of pay will increase considerably.
A second difference is in terms of what you write. If you’re working for a good company, you will have choice about what projects you take. If you’re working for yourself, however, you’ll need to be able and willing to write anything from business case studies to philosophical discourses. You can turn down work you can’t do, for sure, but every time you turn down a client you risk having them never return because they need to be able to count upon their writer.
Finally, if you work for yourself, particularly if you run your own site, you will have to do a lot of work beyond writing alone. That could be a good thing; it could be a bad thing. But it is the truth. Marketing, promotions, advertising, SEO optimization, and article directories – all of these things and more will become part of your daily life.
Advantages and Disadvantages
In general, the old adage holds true: one man’s bread is another man’s poison. For example, having to do SEO optimization on one’s website might seem like a dream occupation for a writer whose first love was computer programming, but it will seem like a nightmare for someone who just wants to write. The biggest advantage to working for an established company is ease. You don’t have to worry about projects coming in, and if you prove yourself to be a good and reliable writer, you don’t have to worry that those projects will be sent your way.
It can also be costly to start and operate your own site. Professional-looking sites can cost tens of thousands of dollars to begin, and while you can certainly set up your own site, you won’t get too far if it looks amateurish and clumsy. Advertising can be costly as well. And so, in addition to the time and effort you will need to expend in order to get your own site going, you will also have to put out a fair amount of money. You’ll also have to think about taxes in a very different fashion than you will as an independent contractor. For most folks, these things would be considered a disadvantage.
On the other hand, working for oneself means no one to pester you about deadlines, push you to take jobs you’re on the fence about, or otherwise act as a boss figure (even though, as an independent contractor, you won’t really have a boss). It’s nice knowing you only have yourself to answer to. It can just be a bit cash-poor, especially at the beginning.
Smart Moves When You’re Starting Out
Do NOT start your own essay service company if you’re just starting out! I cannot stress this strongly enough. It is a waste of time and resources to jump into academic writing by beginning your own company, not least of which is the fact that you don’t even know if you like this work yet. It’s also premature because the industry itself is a bit more complicated than might seem on the surface. You need to get to know this business, ideally as a writer as well as a salesperson, before you even think about starting your own business.
Having said that, be sure you get to know the business through a reputable company. Do your research and freelance with companies that treat their writers well, that have procedures that don’t shift and change every ten minutes, and that are fair to both writers and clients. That way, you will maximize your earning and learning potential.
Once you’ve got a few years of academic writing under your belt, it will be time to consider whether or not you want to strike out on your own. Your best bet is to take into consideration not just tangible, practical items such as those mentioned above, but also more elusive ones, like whether or not your personality is suited to running a business. If you’re able to handle the practicalities and you also have a good head for stress, are able to face and outsmart the competition, aren’t scared of acronyms like ROI and SEO, and are willing and able to work many hours a day, every day of the week, to make your business successful – then you might do well to go for it.
If not, though, there’s no shame in working for another company. They need you and you need them – if you hook up with the right kind of company, it can be a mutually rewarding relationship for years to come.