My rookie year as a freelance writer was so-so. From charging scrimpy rates, getting duped by scam clients, to losing opportunities simply because I’m Nigerian, freelancing didn’t turn out as imagined. Then came 2019. I had a little break. My clientele and rates soared. For the first time as a freelance writer, I felt seen. My confidence solidified.
As my confidence grew, so did my greedines. I started accepting more jobs than I could handle. This greedy behavior ultimately became my Achilles heel. Flash forward to January 2020, I lost all my retainers on the basis of plagiarism, under-delivery, and the inability to meet deadlines. My freelance business took a nosedive, leaving me with no choice but to rebuild.
Rebuilding was, regrettably, frustrating. First, I tried using my rusty Upwork and Fiverr accounts to source for new clients, which didn’t work out because I couldn’t stand bidding for low-paying jobs. I also applied for jobs on Problogger. Here, I managed to receive a few interview invites but none of them worked out. Nature, it seemed, was bent on teaching me a lesson.
When all my efforts to land clients proved futile, I decided to publish a book on becoming a thought leader in the legal industry. In the process of trying to partner with relevant legal industry stakeholders ahead of the book’s publication, I received an offer to join Strictly Law Business, a legal startup, as a Chief Content Officer. This was how my in-house writing journey began.
For context, in-house writing means working as a writer for a company full-time. Essentially, you work at agreed hours and write content to meet the company’s goals in exchange for a monthly fixed salary.
Because of my lack of in-house writing experience, my reaction to the job offer from Strictly Law Business oscillated between “I think I can do this,” and “oh my… I might be exposed for the fraud that I am.” Notwithstanding, I resumed the job as I lacked options.
Contrary to my expectations, I performed excellently in my new role. Within my first month, I revived the company’s newsletter and introduced an event idea that increased revenue by 30%. Ordinarily, this should mean quitting freelancing, but alas, freelancing was the toxic lover who I couldn’t do without. I soon found myself searching for freelance clients amidst my 9–5 work schedule.
This time, client acquisition was a walkover because my personal branding efforts had quadrupled the demand for my services. This breakthrough left me floating on air, but not for long. Like a flash in the pan, my fortune quickly went south.
After a short honeymoon phase, 99% of my clients terminated our ongoing contracts due to my inability to give their jobs maximum attention. This setback was the last straw for me, making me resolve to give up my 2 years+ freelance writing career. Simultaneously, I was running out of steam as the CCO. Work had gradually become an unavoidable, life-sucking chore. I kept up, nonetheless.
A month later, Kelechi Udoagwu invited me to join her company (Week of Saturdays) as the Content and Community Manager. I accepted this offer without a second thought because it was a wish come true. I had always wanted to work with Kelechi since 2019.
After a month of juggling both roles at Week of Saturdays and Strictly Law Business, I resigned from the latter to handle my content and community management job with bells on.
Eight months have passed since then. At the time of writing this article, it’s been two weeks since I resigned from my position at Week of Saturdays.
“Should I job hunt for another in-company writing role? Or I should revamp my freelance business?” This has been my most recurring thought. And while I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, comparing the pros and cons of the two writing paths made me realize this:
Every writer should try in-house writing at least once in their lifetime.
Unlike freelance writing, in-house writing rarely gets a positive PR. There are countless content teaching writers how to freelance their services, but rarely do you see content advocating in-house writing. This is understandable, though. In a world that glorifies freedom, who wants to work at agreed hours and write consistently only to get paid on a fixed basis? According to brilliant minds like Naval, that equates “modern slavery,” doesn’t it?
Prior to 2020, I couldn’t imagine writing for a company full-time. The mere thought made my blood run cold. Working two in-house roles, however, got to change my perspective.
Scroll down to read why you should consider an in-house writing position, steps to landing an in-company writing role, signs staff writing is best for you, and more.
Why should you work as an in-house writer?
Without a doubt, I had a great portfolio before joining Week of Saturdays and Strictly Law Business. Still, my accomplishments at these companies made my portfolio even better.
For example, while at Week of Saturdays, I wrote evergreen content (such as The 2020 Freelance Writing Report and Every Question About Freelancing Answered) that satisfied the curiosity of freelancers at different levels and skyrocketed the brand’s thought leadership. At Strictly Law Business, I wrote an ebook that helped lawyers start freelance businesses and introduced an event that increased its revenue.
These accomplishments enriched my portfolio because I now have evidence demonstrating how my content marketing skills have created a lasting impact in organizations. Likewise, you can work as a staff writer (even if it’s just for a while) if you want to skyrocket your portfolio.
Valuable connections and work relationships
Quality relationships are a bedrock of a successful writing career, and I am lucky to have cultivated a couple of them while at Week of Saturdays and Strictly Law Business.
Interviewing successful writers and journalists for the Week of Saturdays’ Writers Who Inspire Us series was akin to attending regular coaching and networking sessions. One interview, in particular, motivated me to reassess my writing process. I also got the chance to build genuine friendships that still serve me.
At Strictly Law Business, I managed to develop relationships with brilliant team members with whom I can always communicate and share ideas that often translated to mind-blowing realities. This is a sharp contrast to my freelance writing career, which majorly entailed solo work.
If you’re keen on relationship building and teamwork, you should give in-house writing a try. It offers a structure that makes these desires possible.
It’s a bit hard to measure the impact of your services on clients’ successes as a freelance writer. Usually, you simply write, ensure your client is satisfied, and get paid. Rarely do you get access to information such as the percentage by which your content grew traffic or achieved specific business goals.
However, knowing this information sets you miles ahead of other content writers. Fortunately, you’ve easy access to it when working as an in-house writer. In my case, my access to Week of Saturdays’ site backend exposed me to how my content strategy and development impacted the brand’s website traffic and search impressions. So far, this knowledge and evidence of impact have made job applications and cold emailing seamless. I’m more confident because my words are backed with proof.
In addition, including a salaried work experience in your resume bolsters your credibility because it assures clients that someone else has directly vetted your work, and you can deliver results.
More focus on writing craft
As a freelance writer, half of your activities might involve lead generation and client management. By comparison, this onus isn’t on you when working as an in-company writer. Instead, the company’s executive and marketing team bears the responsibility. Resultantly, the average in-house writer has more time to focus on writing as a craft. This increased focus often leads to more sharpened writing proficiency.
I dare say I spent the last 10 months actually writing than I did most of my freelance career when I had to split time between writing, applying for gigs, marketing, and managing existing clients.
Expert, editorial feedback
As a freelance writer, you might not always get editorial feedback about your work quality. Especially when your clients are private individuals or companies with no content marketing department. Working in-house, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity for regular editorial or peer-to-peer feedback. I enjoyed this very much, particularly at Week of