When people hear the words ‘freelance writing agencies’ their mind often goes right to content mills. That is to say, businesses built on the basis of paying freelancers ridiculous rates while pocketing most of the profits for themselves.
While some agencies may work like that, there are some that take their work seriously and also value the freelancers that make up their team. Offering your freelance writing services to such agencies is often more efficient than looking for clients on your own.
In this article, I’m going to share my experience working with a freelance writing agency. We’ll talk about whether it makes sense for you to consider joining an agency too and what to look out for so you don’t get taken advantage of. Let’s take it from the top!
How Do Freelance Writing Agencies Work?
As a freelance writer, it’s up to you to establish contact with clients, discuss what they need, reach an agreement when it comes to payment, and more. That is to say, you need more skills than just being an excellent writer if you want to succeed as a freelancer.
Agencies take over most of these roles and pass work onto you. That’s all well and good, but those services don’t come for free. In other words, you’ll usually earn less working for an agency than you might if you established contact with clients directly.
If you pick the right agency, the equation will usually even out. You’ll get all the information you need upfront so you can get more work done and improve your earning potential. Let’s quickly sum up the pros we’ve discussed so far when it comes to working with agencies:
- You get to spend less time chasing clients.
- They take care of client communications, so you don’t need to worry as much about replying to emails.
- You get to spend more time writing.
A lot of freelancers look down on agency work, but personally, I love it. I’ve been working with the same agency for almost three years now, and I appreciate having a long-term source of steady work. I could possibly make more money if I focused on pitching clients directly, but there’s nothing stopping me from doing that on the side.
If you’re new to working on your own, offering your freelance writing services to an agency can be a great way to build up a portfolio. Then, if you find that agency life isn’t to your liking, you can always strike out on your own. One great place to get started is with the Paid to Blog Jobs board, where we regularly compile offers for serious freelance writing work.
3 Things to Look Out for In a Serious Freelance Writing Agency
I’ve made freelance agencies sound pretty good so far. However, there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for if you want to separate content mills from serious businesses. Here are three ways to spot an agency that knows what it’s doing.
1. Decent Per Word Rates
Compensation is the most significant differentiator between a content mill and a serious agency. Content mills know there will always be people willing to work for next to nothing and they won’t think twice about hiring anyone and taking on any kinds of clients. Everyone has a different per word rate. Generally speaking, we recommend you aim for anywhere above $0.07 per word if you have some experience as a freelance writer. Here’s a handy chart from our in-depth article on per word rates:
In my experience, there are a lot of writers that won’t get out of bed for anywhere below $0.10 per word. However, I’ve found there’s a lot of room to make a good living in the $0.6-0.10 range as long as you focus on topics you know inside and out. However, that’s my experience, and you should only work for rates you personally find reasonable.
If you get offers from agencies promising tons of work at lower rates, you should stay away from them. Chances are they’re only interested in writers that can churn out content as fast as possible, which can lead to you burning out.
2. Regular Payment Schedules
For me, one of the best parts about working for an agency is I can expect a paycheck within the first few days of each month. The agency I work with has me on multiple assignments and clients often pay at different times. However, they understand that stability is key to keeping writers happy, so they make an effort to never delay payments.
When you’re looking for an agency, you should stay away from businesses that can’t commit to a regular payment schedule. In a lot of cases, this sort of delay means they might have cash flow issues, which doesn’t bode well for how they run things. More importantly, you should ask for clear payment terms within your contract:
Anyone can promise a steady paycheck, but without a contract, you won’t have any way to press for it. That’s one of many clauses you should always insist on including on any freelance writing contracts you sign.
3. A Focus on Specific Niches
Perhaps the best indicator of a serious agency, for me, is the focus on a specific niche or two. Freelance writing agencies that offer services for any topic may get more clients. However, chances are they won’t charge them as much, which means less money for you.
More importantly, it’s impossible for an agency to hire writers that are experts in every topic. That means the content they produce won’t be as great as it could be. However, when you find an agency that focuses on a specific niche, chances are their staff know what they’re talking about.
A while ago, I wrote a piece about how specialists can charge higher rates for their writing work. That also applies to agency work as long as they’re looking for someone in your niche since they will be more likely to appreciate your know-how. Just keep an eye out for agencies that include unreasonable anti-competitive clauses in their contracts.
In most cases, agencies will include clauses preventing you from working with their clients for a while if you part ways. However, those clauses shouldn’t extend beyond a few months, and they should only include existing clients. Some agencies will try to prevent you from working with any other similar businesses, so you need to read through your contract carefully!
Freelance writing agencies are not a good fit for everyone. For some freelancers, they feel too much like having a regular job. Personally, I like working with agencies because they provide me with a degree of stability while I chase higher-paying gigs on my own.
If you want to offer your freelance writing services to an agency, here’s what you should look for:
- Decent per word rates.
- Regular payment schedules.
- A focus on specific niches.
Do you have any questions about what it’s like to work for a freelance writing agency? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.