November 9, 2017
On the surface, doing freelance writing can seem like a no-brainer for anyone who is looking for the flexibility of working from home or for someone who is interested in the opportunity to have customizable working hours. Dig a little deeper, though, and you may find that freelancing isn’t as glamorous as you may have thought.
While it may physically be a whole lot easier—and for a lot of people, more enjoyable—than digging ditches, let’s explore some of the ups and downs that come along with the freelance writing lifestyle.
Freelance Writing Jobs
Put simply, when freelance writing, clients are just paying you to tell a story with your words. In freelancing, there’s no long-term commitment between you and your clients, so this can be a challenge for people who need to have a dedicated, steady stream of income.
On the plus side, even though there’s no formal obligation between you and your clients, if you deliver content that they like, you’ll almost always be asked to do more work for them.
Range of Writing Jobs
Depending on your interests and skillset, there’s a wide array of freelance writing opportunities that exist. If the business world interests you, there are always companies looking to hire writers to create content for marketing materials, website copy, technical documentation, speeches, and evens scripts for voiceovers.
Creative writers are sure to find opportunities to write short stories, novels, stage plays, and screenplays. Other clients are looking for non-fiction writers who can write reports, articles, opinion pieces, travelogues, advocacy, and summaries of research.
An important point to make, though, is that not every writer can successfully write for every style of assignment that is available. Skillset diversification is both a positive and a negative.
On the downside, you may see a lot of creative writing opportunities, but do your best work writing for business, so you may have to pass up on some of the job postings that you see. On the upside, though, when you find writing opportunities that fit your interests and skillset, the diversification of talent means that you don’t have to compete with every single other freelance writer that is out there. If you find a niche that you are good at, you may be able to rise as a credible, professional writer in that category pretty quickly.
Can You Do This Work?
You have to have a particular set of skills to be a successful freelance writer. Before diving headfirst into writing, ask yourself some of these questions: Can you handle to pressure of having to meet stressful deadlines?
Are your researching skills up to par if you plan on doing any non-fiction writing? Does accurate spelling, grammar, sentence construction, and story structure come second nature to you? Can you tell stories that are convincing enough for clients to want to pay for them? How much time are you able to commit to writing each day?
Writers who are new to the freelancing world often find themselves surprised by the level of text output that they must produce in a relatively short turnaround time. As a freelancer, you may have to draft up thousands of words per day to meet your deadlines.
To put this into perspective, many novelists and creative writers consider themselves lucky if they produce 2,000 words that are worth keeping on any given day. Clients who are looking to hire freelancer writers are often looking for people who can deliver much more output than that on a daily basis.
Can You Handle the Work?
When embarking on your freelance writing journey, there are a few reality checks you may come across. For starters, the pay is usually quite low; this is especially true for new writers who are trying to build up a portfolio full of successful publications that they can use to help market themselves to potential clients.
A lot of clients don’t realize how difficult it can be to create quality writing content, so you may come across low pay for a somewhat tricky assignment that is actually extremely demanding.
Freelance writing can be lonely. More often than not, you’ll be spending your days in solitude trying to fill up blank pages with cohesive words and sentences. If you are someone who gets your energy from continually engaging and interacting with others, this is a significant factor of freelancing that you should carefully consider.
A huge positive of freelance writing that should not but understated, though, is the flexibility. There aren’t a lot of other job opportunities that allow you to sit on your couch in your pajamas until 3 p.m., or that offer the flexibility to make sure that you can always pick your kids up from school and attend any essential field trips or school functions.
Is it Worth it?
Determining if freelance writing is “worth it” is an extremely personal question that is going to be a little bit different for everybody. While some writers can generate enough income from their freelance writing gig that equates to a “real-life” annual salary, freelancing doesn’t offer the same benefits that you can get with a “real” job.
For this reason, a lot of freelance writers choose to use their writing income as a way to supplement the salary that they earn from their full-time employment.
Where to Find Freelance Jobs?
There are a number of freelancing sites online, like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com, that post hundreds of new writing opportunities every day. A big disadvantage with these job sites is that you end up competing for writing opportunities with someone else who is willing to do the job for almost no compensation.
Until you establish a solid work history and portfolio that is filled with positive client reviews, plan on taking jobs at a very low price point. Chances are, you won’t hear back from every pitch that you make, but don’t get discouraged; even the most successful writers often face rejection.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, freelance writing has its advantages. Aside from hours spent alone typing behind a computer and the pressure of meeting deadlines, freelance writing is an honest way to generate some income while relaxing on your couch and sipping on your favorite coffee any time of day that you please.