Will it be fair weather in freelance writing in 2020, or foul? Inquiring writers want to know. Which is why it’s time for my annual Freelance Writing Forecast.
(Wondering how we did with last year’s predictions? Check that out here.)
To find out the top trends that will impact how we pursue our craft next year, I reached out to stakeholders around our industry, including experts, coaches, freelancers, agency owners, and more. My rule is to not use the same experts year-to-year, so these are all new faces to the forecast.
I’m particularly proud that this year’s forecast includes two coaches I mentored — my Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator mastermind co-leader Angie Mansfield, and 2X grad Mandy Ellis, a high-earning freelancer who now coaches newbies for ASJA. So — get ready for some homegrown advice you won’t find anywhere else!
What do the experts see in store for us in 2020? Here are their predictions:
1. Yuwanda Black
Inkwell Editorial Publisher
Demand for freelance writing will continue to grow in 2020
Why? There’s three reasons:
1. More workers want the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor.
2. It makes financial sense for companies that don’t have to pay for healthcare, vacation, or sick days.
3. And we’re living in an era of a global economy.
Want to make more money writing in 2020? Carve out a niche. You’ll earn more, not only because it makes it easier to land clients, but because it saves you time.
There’s never been a better time to be a freelance writer.
Want to make more money writing in 2020? Carve out a niche. There’s never been a better time to be a freelance writer. -Yuwanda Black @InkwellEditor
2. Bob Bly
Copywriter & author of 95-plus books on direct marketing
Digital content dominates, print slows
Web analytics will continue to enable clients to measure the results of the writer’s work with pinpoint accuracy, and those writers who can generate a large ROI for the client (e.g., SEO copywriters) will be in high demand and command top fees.
The market for freelance magazine articles as well as the number of magazines being published continues to shrink.
So there will be fewer markets for freelance writing. And publications that cut their print editions and publish digitally only will pay freelance writers lower rates than traditional paper magazines.
The book industry will have an increasingly greater number of writers who earn a pittance for the books they write, with a small elite of best-selling authors still earning the big bucks.
The mid-list writers will continue to see the number of publishers shrink along with advances, which are becoming increasingly minuscule for mid-list books.
SEO copywriters who can generate a large ROI for their clients will be in high demand and command top fees. -Bob Bly @RobertBly
3. Ruthie Bowles
Content marketing expert and founder of Defy the Status Quo
Content for video & media in high demand
One of the most exciting developments is the growing opportunity for dynamic writers to step into the video space.
We’re seeing a surge in purely animated these days (think Doodle or Toon videos) due to the lower production cost.
These videos need storyboards and scripts, which I think many freelance writers would excel at creating for clients.
Voice-over artists and motion graphics designers aren’t worth much without a strong creative mind that knows how to structure marketing material behind the project!
One of the most exciting developments is the growing opportunity for dynamic writers to step into the video space. -Ruthie Bowles @annaruthus
4. Andrea Collier
Multimedia journalist, book author and speaker
Business-savvy + writing skills needed to boost revenue
It is going to require freelancers to be much more nimble in 2020.
Work smarter. Work harder. Be more focused.
Ask yourself what you want and prioritize how to get there.
Also diversify your work out of your sweet spot–expand your brand with more ways to support your revenue streams.
And listen to your instincts. All freelance writing clients are not good clients. If it feels off, it usually is.
The formula for freelance success in 2020: Be more nimble. Work smarter. Work harder. Be more focused. Ask yourself what you want and prioritize how to get there. -Andrea Collier @andreacollier
5. Mandy Ellis
Austin freelance writer and coach
Blog posts morph into journalist-style articles
10. Angie Mansfield
The case study and white paper geek
Niche marketing + premium content wins
I’ve got two freelance writing predictions for 2020:
1. Niche will be king.
2. Premium content will continue to grow.
Used to be, you could make good money as a generalist, and you can still scratch out a living that way.
But companies are more focused than ever on producing more Google-friendly content to improve their web visibility, while working with ever-shrinking budgets.
Focus on 1 or 2 niches
That means writers who can demonstrate some level of expertise in their industry (by focusing on one or two niches) will have a much easier time of finding great-paying work, because clients don’t have to do a lot of training to get you up to speed.
Learn to write long-form content
Google loves long-form, valuable content, so look for clients to keep increasing their blog-post length and moving toward articles with interviews instead of quick Google-search-based posts.
11. Kim Rotter
Founder of An Army of Writers
Riches are in the niches in 2020
Because the percentage of workers who are independent contractors continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to stand out.
The most successful freelance writers in 2020 will be those with high-level expertise in a niche.
Even excellent writers who “write about anything” should consider narrowing their portfolios.
Also, I think independent writers and artists, through their industry groups, will successfully mobilize to change laws that incorrectly classify ride-share drivers and all freelancers as a single and equivalent class of worker.
12. Carol Tice
Freelance Writers Den founder and founder/writing-business coach of the Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator mastermind.
2020: The year of diversity
I’m calling 2020 the Year of Diversity. As a freelancer, your hedge against predicted #recession2020 or 21 is to have eggs in many baskets.
Warning: If you have only one client — or all your clients come through a platform like Upwork or one content mill or digital agency — realize that you’re worse off than if you had a day job!
You’re not getting the benefits of a full-timer, yet one platform or ‘boss’ could still end 100% of your income, tomorrow. Not good.
Now’s the time to get serious about marketing your business — effectively and regularly — to find your own direct clients. Stop undercharging, and start building an emergency fund. If you’re just barely scraping by, when a client or two suddenly drops or bans you, it’s disaster.
A diverse client base and a savings account are your best hedges against marketplace uncertainty.
If you also offer editing, have WordPress skills, can create infographics… that’s another way to be diverse and have more possible income streams. That gives you something unique to offer in your marketing.
My other prediction: contractor laws such as California’s AB5 won’t have a major impact on what most freelance writers do.
These laws restrict free speech and the media’s critical role in our society, which is flat wrong. The laws will be clarified, sued over, and appealed until they are revised and do what they were meant to do — target businesses such as Uber that exploit a 100% contractor workforce.
Now’s the time to get serious about marketing your business — effectively and regularly — to find your own direct clients. Stop undercharging, and start building an emergency fund. – Carol Tice @TiceWrites
Plan for freelance writing success this year
If you want to move up and earn more this year, it’s not going to happen by accident. It’s not going to happen by taking a class, reading a book, or completing a course….without taking action. Now is always the best time to plan for success.
What’s your prediction for 2020? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.