How to Protect Your Craft as a Freelance Writer

In our socially distanced, post-Covid world, freelancers are in high demand and that means they need to protect their craft. A massive amount of online content is published every day and it has to come from somewhere. Every day, writers churn out some 7.5 million blog posts on every subject imaginable. The average blog post length in 2020 was 1,269 words. That is 57% longer than 2014’s average of just over 800 words.

Although it’s common that employers hire writers on a contract basis, businesses are more increasingly hiring freelancers. A growing number of employers look for flexibility and the ability to work autonomously. Freelancers fit that bill. And on the writing side, freelancing offers several perks, notably the ability to travel and live wherever you want while working remotely.

However, freelance writing has its downsides as well. The best practice is to take the necessary steps to protect your craft as well as your income. Education is the first step to securing your rights as a freelancer and avoiding potentially career-ending mistakes such as plagiarism and copyright infringement. Additionally, do your best to secure your digital devices and online accounts. And have a written agreement in place for every paid project you take on.

Here’s what you need to know about how to protect your craft, your livelihood, your online reputation, and your original work as a freelancer in our rapidly changing world.

Protecting Your Digital Reputation and Devices

Professional writing requires copious amounts of research, note-taking, and communication. As such, freelance writing wouldn’t be possible without mobile devices to keep you in touch with potential and existing clients. Your laptop, smartphone, and other digital tools thus serve as the first level of defence when protecting your craft.

And when it comes to mobile device security and your freelance writing business, there’s a lot to learn. Tablets and smartphones are particularly vulnerable to malware attacks and spyware. You can stay on top of the game by avoiding public Wi-Fi, backing up your data, and downloading anti-malware programs on your device.

Pay particular attention to your finances, as mobile banking trojans are among the most dangerous malware programs. Clients usually pay their freelancers via online channels such as direct deposit or PayPal. To prevent hackers from accessing your hard-earned cash, double-check the security of your bank account and other online payment portals. It’s also wise to set notifications that alert you of suspicious activity.

Making Sure You Get Paid

Yet financial protection for freelance writers doesn’t end with secure mobile devices and a vigilant eye. You also have to make sure you’re getting paid in the first place, accurately and on time. Even novice freelance writers understand that the flexibility they enjoy is also exercised at the client level. That means that payment schedules can vary considerably from client to client.

Some freelance writing platforms payout regularly, typically every week. Alternatively, clients pay their freelance writers once per month or upon project completion. No matter the project or how many times you’ve worked with a particular client, always agree on payment before you start working on the project.

Transparency is a crucial part of a mutually beneficial freelancer-client relationship. Having a written contract in place allows for the best protection for both parties. Contracts also offer a form of economic security, as you have tangible proof of payment terms. Having a written record of every transaction can protect you from fraud. As well as give you leverage if a client fails to pay up.

What to Know About Intellectual Property Rights

Additionally, contracts may outline project specifics and cover a variety of topics, including the rights to written content. Oftentimes, freelance writers don’t retain rights to their work and agree to those terms when taking on a project. According to Forbes, this phenomenon, known as “ghostwriting” is more popular than ever, especially in the realm of fiction, but plenty of nonfiction blog posts fit the bill as well.

If you’re writing for a client with the understanding that you won’t retain content rights, your legal research is essentially done. But when you’re publishing under your own name, you must understand the basics of copyright law and intellectual property rights. Depending on your nation and region of origin, those rights may differ considerably.

According to legal experts, intellectual property crimes are unfortunately common, and freelance writers are among the most vulnerable, simply due to the creative nature of the work. The good news is that you can easily protect your legal rights as a freelancer by establishing your copyright and setting terms of use. Make sure to include specifics when structuring your ownership rights documents, including any limitations to future publication.

Similar to payment contracts, a written agreement can also help protect you from copyright infringement. If you come across a blog post that seems similar to your work, or when a client has published your work without proper attribution, you have a few options. Start by reaching out to the offending party directly to settle the matter. If all else fails, consider pursuing legal action to secure your intellectual property.

Continue Reading: Freelance Writing Tips: How to Make Your Personal Brand More Accessible

Protect your Craft and Yourself Into the Future

Even with all the connections, you make in the day, working on a freelance basis is mostly a solo endeavour. Yet for those of us who make a living via the written word, freelancing is also a business. And that business has interests that need to be protected. Of course, balancing creativity with business considerations can be a complicated task, but it’s the name of the game for freelancers.

Along with researching, writing, and editing your work, the job of protecting your rights and your craft comes down to the freelance writer. By remaining transparent with every client, asking plenty of questions, and keeping a written record, you’re well on your way to protecting yourself as a freelancer.