As a freelance writer, Paul believes that the best writing builds trust with its audience. He specializes in creating practical and actionable content that tells a story, provides context, and breaks down complex subjects into easy-to-understand steps.
His writing covers several areas, including business, technology, finance, customer communications, and supply chain. With over 20 years of business experience, he understands the challenges faced by businesses and entrepreneurs and enjoys crafting content that offers solutions to these challenges.
While he isn’t currently looking for work at the moment, he is active in the freelance community on Reddit.
A note to readers from Paul: Pop along to our subreddit, drop in, and start engaging with the community. We’re here, and we’d love to welcome you.
Background: The Highlights
Jenn: I can see from your profile that you’ve been active on Reddit for quite some time. When did you start moderating the freelance writing community?
Paul: I’ve been a member of r/freelancewriters since 2016, became an “Expert Contributor” around 2019, and became a moderator at the beginning of 2022. It’s an awesome group for freelance writers at all stages of their careers. We currently have almost 120,000 members who annually make more than 4,000 posts that generate five million views a year!
Jenn: Do you feel like moderating has helped you grow your career as a freelance writer?
Paul: I spend most of my time on the subreddit providing advice and helping others – I’m already very comfortable with where I am in my career and the various techniques and approaches that I’ve developed.
The sub has really helped me to appreciate the perspectives, frustrations, and struggles of other writers and to refine the advice I provide for those issues. I do also pick up some useful nuggets of information or new perspectives that I incorporate into my own work or very helpful responses to posts that I make.
Additionally, as far as I know, I have never acquired a client or made any money from my Reddit activities – I dedicate my hours to the sub because of my desire to see others succeed.
Jenn: Are there challenges that have remained constant for freelance writers throughout your time as a moderator?
Paul: Yes, there are serval consistent challenges that the moderators (shout out to Dan and Tiffany, my fellow mods) see. These issues will likely be very familiar to your users as well. The most persistent ones are:
- How do I get started?: Getting off the ground, setting yourself up as a freelance writer, acting as a professional business.
- How do I find clients?: Finding the right way to acquire clients for yourself, understanding whether you want to use inbound or outbound marketing, and creating unique ways to set yourself apart.
- How much should I charge?: Understanding what rates are reasonable and acceptable, finding your target clients, and having the confidence to charge more.
- How do I develop a portfolio?: Writing samples, to begin with, setting up a portfolio website, and sharing relevant, published pieces with prospective clients.
We get these questions so often that we created a Freelancer Writer Wiki – that I curate – that links to helpful posts from our community to provide insight into how other writers tackle these areas.
Jenn: What’s the biggest challenge you see freelancers facing now?
Paul: Let’s say it all together – “ChatGPT” – and many of the other AI writers! AI content writing is the topic that’s been dominating the subreddit over the last few months. However, we’re seeing the discussions shift from “Will AI take my job?” towards working alongside AI, sharing the unique value that you provide as a human writer, or dealing with clients who want to use AI because it’s much cheaper.
FWIW, I believe that many freelance writers can make themselves resilient to AI, and wrote a subreddit post that your readers may find helpful.
Jenn: What’s the best advice you’ve given (or seen other Reddit users) give when a freelance writer faced a particularly challenging situation in their career?
Paul: Most of the advice I give falls into three broad areas:
- Act as a professional business: Work on proactive communications with clients, always meet deadlines, ask questions of the client if you’re unsure, get contracts in place, and make it easy for them to do business with you.
- Find a good niche and focus on it: Niche writers generally have a better time and charge higher rates than generalists – especially if you can focus on more “esoteric” niches where there’s not a ton of competition.
- Boost your confidence: This is huge. No one is advocating for your career but you, so you need to speak out and set the terms and rates you want to work to. Confidence can be difficult to find, but it’s essential to understand your value and explain that to clients.
The Rest of nDash’s Discussion with Paul Maplesden
Jenn: Is it common for users to share resources with other freelancers? If so, which do you find to be the most valuable?
Paul: I don’t know how common it is for freelancers, in general, to share resources. Certainly, there are a lot of paid-for courses, tools, and the like in the freelance ecosystem. But, with our community, we’ve taken the view that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” So, we freely share advice, opinions, and resources with all of our members to help them make the best of their careers. I would say the most valuable resource we have is our wiki – you can get almost everything that a freelance writing course would teach you from our wiki for free.
Jenn: What recommendations do you have if a freelance writer is looking to find and build relationships within this community?
Paul: Join us, read our rules, and start participating! We do have several rules in place to prevent the community from becoming overrun with spam, writers looking for work, and various other areas. So it’s important to be aware of our community standards.
Other than that, it’s simply a case of visiting, commenting, and posting. We always recommend reading the wiki first, as that answers 80% of the common questions writers have and means the community itself has interesting discussions about other topics. We also insist on civility in the community (which, unfortunately, seems hard to come by in many social media spaces) – so that keeps everything fairly polite and helpful.
So, please do join, contribute, and engage, and we hope it works for you!
Jenn: Do you know of success stories where freelance writers found recurring work or an “anchor client” within the community?
Paul: We regularly get people posting about how the community has helped them grow as a writer, including finding clients and upping their game. Those are the posts that make me happiest!
Jenn: Could you share with our readers how you found nDash and how it became part of your journey as a freelance writer?
Paul: I found nDash early on, through a Google search, I think, and was very impressed that it wasn’t a “race to the bottom” or cutthroat on rates. That immediately helped it to stand out from the majority of other freelance platforms. It supports my view that high-quality clients will pay for high-quality writers if we can deliver the value that they need.
Jenn: What recommendations do you have for brands like nDash to make better use of Reddit? (i.e., Aside from answering questions about our platform, do you recommend using the community to find a niche freelance writer, etc.?)
Paul: Reddit (including our subreddit) is very sensitive to the platform being used as a marketing tool – that’s one of the reasons we do not allow links in posts. So, it would be about adding value without tripping into that barrier. We also do not allow hiring posts, so it wouldn’t be a good fit there. We do link to nDash from our wiki of places to find work. Sharing helpful resources in comments is appreciated (so long as it’s not just dropping a link).
I imagine the most value would come from nDash insights as a freelance platform owner: What clients seem to be looking for, trends in the marketplace, how you’re seeing writer perspectives and rates shift, in-demand niches, etc. That’s information we don’t really get from elsewhere, and I suspect it would be very popular with our members.
Thank you for chatting with us about your role as a moderator on the subreddit for freelance writers!
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