The unexpected perks of being a freelance writer

Getting paid to write is just the start of the many benefits that come with being a freelance writer. Here are some of the best perks this media career offers.
The unexpected perks of being a freelance writer
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Being a freelance writer comes with plenty of benefits — you get to work where you want, set your own hours, and be your own boss. But there are other lesser-known perks that only reveal themselves once you start writing and get great clients that offer unique opportunities.

For instance, did you know you could get packages in the mail loaded with free books, electronics, and clothes? Or that you can binge-watch highly anticipated TV series months before anyone else? Or that you could be paid to attend expensive lectures, workshops, and conventions?

As someone who’s been writing professionally for over twenty years, I’ve discovered plenty of hidden job benefits that come from being a freelance writer. If you need more incentive to become a professional writer, here are six great perks you could experience on the job.        

1. Press passes

If you love going to concerts, conventions, and sporting events but hate paying for tickets, here’s a perk you’ll enjoy. By writing for a popular website that reports on such events, you can attend big events for free as a member of the press. Even better, a press pass can get you exclusive access into an event, putting you face-to-face with a celebrity, sports star, or thought leader who you’ll interview for an article.

Understand press passes aren’t “free tickets.” Event coordinators want their conventions and concerts to receive good publicity, something you as a professional writer can provide. This also means you can’t just request a press pass if you’re just writing articles on your personal website (unless you can show event coordinators you have a popular blog with a big following).

To get a press pass visit the media relations page on the website of an upcoming convention or event and contact the event organizer or media director. Provide links to your work, request interviews with guests, and be prepared to explain the types of article(s) you’ll be writing. Naturally, you’ll want to pitch your ideas to your editor beforehand so you have an assignment that can be used to obtain a press pass.  

Many event websites have forms for journalists and writers to fill out, making this process easier. You may also need to contact an artist’s publicist or manager directly to arrange an interview. If you can meet an event manager in person, this could give you an extra edge in obtaining a press pass.         

2. Advance screenings

Ever dream of walking down the red carpet? Want to see the season premiere of your favorite TV show before anyone else? If you write for a popular entertainment site and live in an area where red carpet events are held, there’s a good chance you can get advance screening passes as a member of the press. The directors and administrators of your website are always interested in offering access to these events so their writers have the advance knowledge needed to write articles.

When attending a red-carpet event, you’ll want to apply for a press pass early, sometimes months in advance. You’ll also want to ask for a talent list to see who’ll be attending. Bring all necessary equipment, including cameras, recorders, laptops, chargers, and microphones and come early to make sure you get a good spot. You may only get a few seconds with a celebrity, so make sure to have some good questions ready so you can get some good quotes and/or video clips for your content.   

You might also get a chance to view advance screenings of films and TV episodes directly on your laptop. These are usually provided with a special link and password, and the video will have a watermark to prevent illegal distribution. Be sure to maintain confidentiality and use your knowledge of the show to start writing your articles in advance of the release date.

3. Complimentary merchandise

Here’s a perk you can enjoy if you specialize in writing reviews. Publicists and entrepreneurs often contact reviewers to see if they’re interested in writing reviews of consumer products like books, toys, or software. If you agree, they’ll send you complimentary merchandise, sometimes on a regular basis.

In the past, I’ve received boxes of books from publishers and publicists looking to promote new series and authors. I’ve also been sent scanners and other gadgets to test out and review on my site.

While publicists target reviewers who write for well-known or high-profile sites, you may also receive review offers if you run a personal blog that receives a lot of attention or covers a specific niche.

When this happens, take the time to test whatever product you receive so you can write an informative review. Highlight positives and negatives and also compare it to similar products and earlier versions of the same product. All this helps establish you as an expert and a more desirable product reviewer.  

4. Paid educational opportunities

Freelancing is an education in and of itself — but sometimes you receive opportunities to further your formal education by attending a workshop or seminar. And the best part? Unlike college where you pay expensive tuition, more often than not, your employers will pay you to participate in these educational opportunities!

Exactly what type of education you’ll get varies. As a freelance journalist, I’ve been asked to attend symposiums and in-person lectures on everything from immigration policies to public safety. I’ve also taken part in multi-day seminars and webinars to get a better idea of a client’s business practices. You may also receive access to online classes or get a tour of a business’ facilities where you can ask your questions to the managers and CEOs.

When these opportunities come up, make the most of them. Don’t sit passively and listen to a lecture. Ask questions and take part in the activities. You’ll get a much better understanding of the subject matter, helping you write better content, and a better reputation with your instructors and client.

What if you want to research the subjects you’re most interested in? Then I suggest you start pitching your own articles to clients so your content begins matching your interest areas. You’ll be paid to research your articles, establish yourself as an expert, and set yourself up for more formal educational opportunities in your chosen niche. 

5. A network of experts

Freelancing may feel like a very isolating field at times, which is why it’s important to seek out and connect with a supportive community. Freelance writing offers plenty of great opportunities to build this community, especially if you approach experts and ask if they’d like to be interviewed for your articles.

Let’s face it — everyone wants to have their story told. And as a freelance writer, you’re uniquely qualified to tell their stories in a way that enhances both their business brand and your client’s own goals.

This works very well if you’re in the habit of pitching your own articles and know how to angle a person’s area of expertise to the content your client wants to publish. For instance, while writing articles for Hectic on freelancer journeys, I got the opportunity to interview freelance voice artists, YouTubers, and even stilt walkers who all shared their unique perspective on freelancing.

And once you show these experts how good you are at telling their story, you open up a wealth of opportunities for yourself. I’ve had people hire me after they saw the article I did on them for another client. Likewise, if you ever need a quote from an expert while working on another article, you now have a network of people you can turn to for help.

6. Unexpected courage

Choosing to build a career as a freelancer takes courage. Sustaining that career takes even more bravery. Yet once you spend some time freelancing, you’ll find that taking risks and trying new things becomes second nature — even fun.

Before I started freelancing, I would have never thought I was the kind of person who would pitch my ideas to major websites or interview famous celebrities. But once I made that leap, I learned companies were more than willing to publish and pay for the content I produced.

And once you show yourself that you are the kind of person who can put yourself out there, a lot of the imposter syndrome that plagues freelancers will go away. Suddenly you know you’ll be validated for your efforts and rewarded for your courage, which makes growing your freelance career more possible.   

Moving Forward

Freelance writing is one of the most rewarding careers you can build for yourself — and the job perks you can enjoy just make it even sweeter. As with any opportunity, however, your ability to experience those benefits is entirely up to you.

Be proactive. Ask your clients or editors if opportunities for product reviewing or advance screenings exist. Study upcoming events in your area and see if you can get a press pass. Brainstorm unique article ideas that put you in touch with the experts you want to network with. The more you put yourself out there, the more perks you’ll enjoy.

Need help keeping your freelance life organized? Hectic provides an excellent way for you to keep on top of your assignments, connect with clients, and grow your business. Download the app and enjoy the perks provided by Hectic today!

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Michael Jung
Michael Jung has been a freelance writer, entertainer, and educator for over 20 years and loves sharing his knowledge in online articles. He also enjoys writing movie, TV, and comic book content and is developing a series of fantasy novels. Feel free to connect with him through the links below!
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