oConomy
April 8, 2009 by James Waters

It might be hard to believe, but right now is a very good time for freelance writers. In 2000, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 41,410 employed writers in the USA.  That number rose to 135,246 in 2006, an increase of more than 300%.  Where is all this demand for writers coming from?

It appears to be spurred by the internet.  At the time of this post, jobs listed on oDesk for blog and article writing are nearly double the number listed for the next largest category of writing jobs.  While many bemoan the death of dead-tree newspapers, in truth the internet has been a great boon for writers.  Every serious business now needs a webpage, and with the growth of social media, many are beginning to embrace blogging as well.  This means not just a one-time posting of the company’s mission statement, but frequent updates, press releases, and blog posts written in an engaging, inviting style.  The webpage that isn’t updated frequently isn’t visited.  As businesses learn to leverage social media for their marketing, the demand for writers will only grow.  This may explain why over the past year, the number of jobs posted on oDesk for writers has increased over 500%.

writerjobs

There are currently 390 open writing jobs and 762 new jobs posted each month.  There are 19,723 freelance writers on oDesk today.

The growth in jobs, however, is only part of the story.  A good blog post catches peoples’ attention and gets passed on.   Social media networks like Twitter and Digg can carry a story far beyond the original audience.  Google searches can also keep an old story alive long after it was written. To achieve those sorts of results, however, a story has to be interesting and include factual information and hard data.  This means research, so it’s not a bit surprising to see that the growth in hours worked has kept pace with the growth in jobs.  A year ago, we saw 1,081 hours per week on oDesk.  Today, that number is 5,590 hours.

hoursworkedwriters

What does the future hold?   The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 10% growth in writing jobs between 2006 and 2016.  Judging by what’s happening at oDesk, this is an extremely conservative estimate.  As companies seek new ways to make use of the social networks becoming a larger part of our daily lives, the demand for good writers will grow.  In spite of YouTube, the internet is still primarily a textual medium.  So long as that is the case, the outlook for writers who can capture the attention of their audience and aren’t afraid of a little research should be good.

  • http://writerchick.wordpress.com A. Rodgers

    I just checked out your ‘jobs’ board. Are you kidding? People paying $1 to $7 for an article? This is a joke. Professional writers don’t work for free. Your site is clearly yet another writer’s mill, exploiting inexperienced or desperate writers to work for peanuts. Cripes, even McDonald’s pays minimum wage.

    And writers do a disservice to themselves and other writers by accepting this type of pay. As long as you devalue your services and abilities you will never be able to quit your day job and ‘become’ a writer.

    And people who pay this kind of money will never value your work and always expect more for the pennies they pay.

    Unbelievable!

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  • http://www.parallelliving.com Vikas Rajput

    ATM … .simply copied my remarks I made on April 9th.

    Strange!

    • Danalyn

      Thanks for pointing that out, Vikas. The comment has been removed.

  • Rachel

    I love that the market is increasing and there are more jobs for writers. However, I’m watching the PAY for those jobs dwindle to nearly nothing. I’m scrolling through pages of jobs that are fixed price, $5, $1, $15, for several hours worth of work. Unfortunately, this is squeezing talented, full-time, US-based writers out of the market, and the quality of content (in my opinion) is suffering.

    I hope the pendulum begins to swing back toward normalcy, both for the sake of us writers who need to make a decent living and for the quality of the content we are exposed to.

  • Amit

    Hi Folks,

    That’s great news! We live in the Information age, and Writers the world over need a thumbs up for injecting creativity into the communication expressions in our lives.

    Toronto has a great potential to becoming an ‘INFORMATION CITY’ because we’ve got good libraries, government of Canada and Ontario invests a great deal in education, and moreover, we’re more multiculturally beautiful than any other city in this planet.

    I’d greatly recommend the young generation to take up a freelance writer’s course either fulltime or part-time …

  • http://www.parallelliving.com Vikas Rajput

    Hi,

    I know of a freelance company who are really one of the best when it comes to writing content. They are least assuming, very modest but when it comes to writing the stuff they provide is simply great.

    I worked with them and loved them. In case you need writers just contact them at http://www.webcurry.com

    Too Good!

  • http://www.techjaws.com Frank J

    Many employers would rather have freelance writers than to hire a full time editor to save on cost. I see this trend moving in the right direction, but it seems to be a spike as it shows a decline at the end of the chart.

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/ Don Lafferty

    I absolutely agree, unfortunately the average price per word/job is dropping like a stone, and competition for the available work is brutal by virtue of the number of excellent, unemployed staff writers out there looking to put bread on the table.

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  • http://connectwithyourteens.blogspot.com/ Jennifer/Connect with your Teens

    I can believe this because in today’s economy it is much cheaper to pay freelance writers for articles than to keep writers on staff full time with salary and benefits.

  • http://AdvancedLifeSkills.com/blog Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills

    We are definitely undergoing a fundamental shift in the way business is done. Yes, things are changing but the written word has always had a prominent place in commerce. Skilled writers will always have a role to play.

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  • Volomike

    Actually, I suspect this is hype. I mean, I reason to bet that the Labor department simply got better at classifying this. I’m sure there’s a trend, and I’m sure it’s increasing, but not this fast.