Why Freelance Writers Should Apply to Full-time Jobs: 5 Reasons

I wrote a post a few years ago for FreelanceWritingGigs.com about why freelance writers should apply to full-time jobs. The post didn’t survive the sale of the site (don’t know why), so I thought I’d cover it here because it really is a good way to land FREELANCE gigs. Following is why.

My Editorial Background

Before we delve into it, I just want to remind new readers that I’ve been in the editorial industry since 1987. I started out working for a legal trade publisher in New York City. I worked at this company off and on for a decade.

From 1996 to 2004, I owned/operated Inkwell Editorial, which was an editorial outsource / staffing agency in the city.

We staffed all types of editorial positions – from copy editors to graphic designers. I’ve spoken with the hiring directors, managers and department heads of some of the largest and smallest companies; and interviewed, hired and fired a few hundred editorial professionals.

I point all this out to underscore that I’ve been on both sides of the editorial hiring desk. So, what I’m about to tell you comes from first-hand experience.

The Editorial Hiring Process

Companies seek to fill new positions for a variety of reasons, eg, they’ve grown, someone is fired or quits, and/or a department or the company itself is contracting (which often happens when a firm is bought/sold).

No matter the reason, when they’re looking fill a position, they forward that request to the person/department in charge of finding a new hire.

But what’s happening while all of this is going on? Work, right? As in, the job that the new person is going to do still has to get done. This brings me to the first reason to apply to full-time jobs, ie . . .

5 Reasons Freelance Writers Should Apply to Full-time Jobs

1) The Work Still Has to Get Done: Rarely is a new hire going to take on a new role that hasn’t been implemented. Most companies just don’t work this way.

What usually happens is that the job has been abandoned (someone is fired, quits, goes on maternity leave, etc.).

In the meantime, deadlines must still be met and projects must still be completed. And until the perfect new hire is in place, your freelance application may hit the right desk at the right time to land the gig.

And speaking of the perfect employee . . .

2) The “Perfect Employee”: Let me let you in on a little secret — one thing I learned in my years as a recruiter is that when a company puts together a job description on what they want, this person usually doesn’t exist.

Like looking for the perfect house or apartment when you’re on a budget – they come to the realization sooner or later that they’re going to have to compromise on something. A good recruiter leads an employer to this conclusion without ever saying so. How/why?

What I did when I was recruiting was ask clients for their Top 3 “must haves.” While many came with a “requirements” list that was anywhere from 5 to 15 (or more) bullet points long, I focused on their top three must haves when I sourced candidates.

Now remember, work is still piling up because the company is one man down. So all of those requirements become less important if the person had their ‘must haves’ – especially the longer the recruiting process went on. And if you’re a freelancer with those must haves who’s applied, then you have a shot at landing the gig until the “perfect employee” is found.

How to Find a Full-Time Job without Actively Looking for One

When I was recruiting and a client would agree to use a freelancer until they could find a full-time employee, many times the freelancer was offered the position because they were such a good fit. This is how some freelancers wind up back in 9 to 5 jobs – which is cool if that’s what you really want. It’s an ideal way to kind of back into a great full-time job without the stress of looking for one.

3) Editorial Cutbacks: When I worked at the legal trade publishing company in NYC, I went through something like six reorgs. Each time, something changed, eg, entire departments were eliminated.

At the firm I worked at, we used to have a QC (quality control) department. I remember when this department and the stand-alone Art department were eliminated. Of course, this meant more work for existing employees.

Sometimes, a scaled-down staff can’t handle the increase in work during peak times. When editorial cutbacks happen, it presents opportunities for freelance writers (and other editorial professionals) to slide in and land gigs, especially during a firm’s busy season.

4) Companies Change: Another thing I learned as a recruiter is that companies change courses all the time. As in, they may decide that a full-time person is not what they want after all. This could be because of budgetary concerns, they revamp a position, new leadership is brought in, the company is bought/sold, etc.

So while you may see a full-time job listed one week, next week that same position could be advertised as a freelance or job-sharing position.

5) Once You’re In, You’re In! Once a firm hires you, you’re likely to become their “go to” company freelancer. This usually happens because once you get your foot in the door with, for example, one editor, they’ll recommend you to other departments. I’ve worked with as many as a half dozen employees in the same company – all by getting in good with one person.

So once you do get in, be sure to not only do a good job, but by asking your contact to refer you to their colleagues.

What to Expect from Employers When You Apply to Full-time Job Listings as a Freelancer

If a company is not interested, they’ll just overlook your job application. This is about the worst thing that will ever happen. So you literally have nothing to lose by applying.

Freelancers Vital to Worldwide Economies

And not for nothing, but freelancing is a concept that many firms embrace. Following are a couple of eye-popping statistics, in my opinion, on just how reliant businesses are on freelancers in two of the world’s largest economies (the U.S. and Great Britain).

In the current economic climate, businesses and freelancers agree that freelancers are essential for helping grow the UK economy. There is an evident understanding from businesses that freelancers are vital to help businesses in the UK operate – indeed 60% say that it would be difficult without freelancers (emphasis added). [Source: Report — National Freelancers Day Research Conducted on behalf of PCG]

Mark Koba, Senior Editor at CNBC, writing on the 2009 U.S. recession noted that “More than 90 percent of US firms use contract [ie, freelance] talent (emphasis added), with spending on them doubling in the past six years, to more than $120 billion. … contract workers are becoming a permanent fixture in the economy that is likely to continue even after the recession is over. . . Companies will staff up at certain levels again, but I think they will use freelancers or consultants on a regular basis going forward.” [Source: CNBC article, Freelance Nation: Slump Spurs Growth of Contract Workers]

As you can see, the need is there.


So scour those full-time job listings and send in your freelance application. You’ll decrease the competition from other freelancers (for sure!) and you just may be the “full-time” option a firm is looking for.

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    1. JaniceThurman says:

      Does managing a well-established blog like yours require a large amount of work? I am brand new to
      writing a blog however I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!