Ethics in Freelance Writing: A Simple Guide for Freelance Writers

Are there any ethics in writing, or should there be?

Writing is an excellent form to express one’s self. When this is the case, should there be any rules, limitations, ethics?

Specifically, writing online or writing for the internet, has recently gained much popularity. Whether you are a blogger, a hubber, a freelance provider, a web developer, an affiliate marketer, and anything in between, some words will come out of that imaginative brain which will then be typed out by those swift fingers, which in turn will eventually be a written piece!

Given this, are there any ethics in writing one should follow? Is there like an Implementing Rules and Regulations on writing? There being none (or at least there being none that has showed itself to me), I now list my self-imposed ethics in writing. Let me make it straight, though. I, too, am still struggling to find balance between family, work and writing.

You may or may not agree to these, and these may or may not work for you. But for now, here are some ethics in writing:


1. Spend just enough time, don’t take away family or play time

Writing online can be pretty addicting, and before you know it, it’s way past midnight and the kids have all gone to sleep without even saying “goodnight” to you. Or perhaps they did, only you were too busy typing away at the keyboard? Family and play time should always come first, and should never be compromised with the prospect of earning a few hundred dollars from writing online.

sweet spot
sweet spot

2. Segregate work from writing

For people like me who has a full-time day job, it might be tempting to combine the two works and maximize the time. For example, I have people I talk to at work who need some writings done. I don’t volunteer my writing skills, mainly because I don’t want my two worlds to interact.

3. Don’t write on topics related to your professional work

Perhaps there are two schools of thoughts on this one. Some might say that indeed you should write about the things you do at work, anyway, that’s what you are supposedly good at. But personally, I look at online writing (blogging, hubbing) as a wonderful means to do (write) something other than the stuff I do at work. And this is for now. Perhaps in time, I will write about the things I do at work.

4. Don’t write during company hours

Now this is a clear conflict, if I ever see one. It can be very tempting, really, to write during “idle” times in the office. Say, during a particularly lengthy meeting or seminar, where you know everything that’s being discussed, or has been through several similar meetings. You stare at the ceiling and think “hmm… I’d rather be doing some hubs”, but once you start down that road, pretty soon you might find yourself not really working at all for your company, instead you are just writing hubs or participating in forums, all during company time.

5. Don’t sabotage your clients’ website

Well, perhaps “sabotage” is a pretty strong word, but it pretty much sums up my point. Being a freelance writer, I get to write about many things as required by my clients/buyers. Some of which are really very interesting, and it gets me thinking “if they are willing to pay for this, there must be a market out there”. But to be “faithful” to my active buyers, I refrain from writing about their niche while I have an existing contract with them.

6. Always proofread, and check for plagiarism

This is more of a self-preservation rule than anything else. Proofreading ensures that your writing is error-free, while checking for (or against) plagiarism is a must for all writings. Some people might say, “I wrote each and every word of my article, why should I check for plagiarism?”, and there might be some logic to it. However, with the millions and millions of written content published on the internet, there is a big chance that one or two of your sentences may be the same as the one written by someone living on the other side of the world. There are many free online plagiarism sites to use, such as www.plagiarismdetect.com and www.articleschecker.com.

Day 6 HubChallenge

just on my 6th...
just on my 6th...

7. Never badmouth your country

My country, the Philippines, is far from ideal but I made a promise never to badmouth my country in any of my writings – be it hubs, blogs, submissions, forums. In fact, I try to promote my country whenever I can. The Philippines is a third-world country but there are many, many reasons to visit here. A lot of people do the same, and many times, it is just too tempting to say your two cents’ about the government and other people but perhaps it does more harm than good.

These are just some self-invented rules. Trying to balance a career, a family and writing online will really require some structure, so this is just a struggling writer’s attempt on putting that structure in place. I am sure you have your very own ethics in writing. Pray, share!

All images used in this hub were taken by mommyfreelancer's husband with Canon DSLR cameras and lenses.

I'm a HubNugget Wannabe!

My 2nd HubNugget Wannabe Hub. Woot! :)
My 2nd HubNugget Wannabe Hub. Woot! :)

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Comments 53 comments

emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

Wow! Very nice pictures. Is your husband a professional photographer? I agree to all of the ethics especially the last one.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Emi, you just made his day :)

No, his gadgets are not yet paying for themselves, but he is very much into photography (lately). It's his new hobby, and I am an avid fan! :)


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

I've read somewhere in the Internet where he can post his pictures and get paid by those who will download them. Can't refer you to the website (I don't remember it). But maybe some other hubbers can help. =)


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Yes, he knows that site, but he's slowly building his portfolio for now. What he does is he poses as a photographer for prenup and wedding gigs for friends for free. :) I will show your comments to him later. Really will make him happy. :)

And you can view more of his photos here:

http://www.myshutterspace.com/photo/photo/slidesho...


ProCW profile image

ProCW 7 years ago from South Carolina

Hey there, mommyfreelancer!

Just letting you know that this hub has been nominated to be a HubNugget!

Thanks for being a great writer!

ProCW & the HubNuggets Team

http://hubnuggets.info


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

What a great informative hub. It's good to hear from a freelancer! I appreciate the comment you posted in the forum. Good luck on your endeavors of becoming a Hubnugget! I'm pulling for you!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

I like this a lot. I fully expected the usual ethics comments for writers, but what you wrote is fresh and original. Thanks!


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Dohn! Being a HubNugget Wannabe just makes writing more enjoyable. Lovin' the HubChallenge, lovin' HubPages! :)

Thank you, Storytellersrus. This hub is a HubNugget Wannabe, you can vote for it at http://hubnuggets.info. Images are from my husband, he is doubly happy that a hub which features his photos was chosen as a Wannabe. :)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Congratulations mommyfreelancer for being a Hubnugget Nominee once again! Yoohoo! Do you know that when I joined the first hubchallenge, that is the first commitment I made to myself...not to write during company hours. LOL Thumbs up for this hub! And if your husband is in Cebu, maybe he would do the honors of taking some photos of our kids in our preschool. Hahaha

To vote for this hub, click here: http://hubpages.com/literature/hubnuggets-08192009


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Ripplemaker. I know, it can be really tempting, right? I can do more progress in the HubChallenge if I write during meetings or seminars, haha! I am just on my 8th. But if I go down that road I know I'll go overboard. It's a constant fight with myself. :)

If we're going to Cebu, I will make sure to contact you beforehand so we can arrange the photoshoot. He will love that. :)


DoodleLyn profile image

DoodleLyn 7 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

Very nice hub. I really struggle with # 1 - taking away time from family/playtime. It's only my hubby and I now, so he really misses me when I'm holed up in my "office." I'm working on that! Thanks for the reminder! Congrats on being a hubnugget wannabee, and welcome to HubPages!


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, DoodleLyn. When we're in the zone we can easily forget about family and playtime. But we really shouldn't. I'm struggling, too. :)


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

Wow, two hubnugget nominations in a row! Congratulations mommyfreelancer. You're on a roll.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Emi! Feels really good :) Of course, my husband says he is half-responsible for the nomination. :)


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 7 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

Hi there mommyfreelancer, I'm dropping by to congratulate you we both made it to his week's hubnugget wannabe... Wish you all the best...


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, General. I wish you all the best, too. Hope we both make it as to the finals! :)


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 7 years ago

Nice hub. I agree about not writing about the same types of things you do at work. I don't think it's WRONG to do that, but it sure makes things less interesting. I talk about work enough, writing about other topics keeps me fresh.


Green Is Good profile image

Green Is Good 7 years ago

A really valuable and all round great hub - congrats on your hubnugget nomination, you deserve it :)


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Mulberry and Green is Good. This is really an attempt to put structure to an otherwise liberated adventure :)

The HubNugget nomination is a very sweet icing on the cake. :)


rsmallory profile image

rsmallory 7 years ago from Central Texas

great hub-nicely written and information I can certainly embrace and take to heart. Thanks.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, rsmallory! Glad you liked it. :)


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

Thanks for the info, it is so much clearer now!

Great hub


Herald Daily profile image

Herald Daily 7 years ago from A Beach Online

This is such good advice, MommyFreelancer. I have trouble with allotting enough play time and end up at the computer many, many hours.

Good luck with the HubNuggets contest.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Rebecca. Glad to be of help.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Herald Daily! I think it's one area we might all be having problems with. When I was starting I worked until very late at night, I encountered some health problems. Luckily I recovered easily. Now I try to work at decent hours without missing family and playtime. And that is why I am just on my 8th hubchallenge hub but no worries. Cheers! :)


Ron Mariano profile image

Ron Mariano 7 years ago

These are great tips and these suggestions will indeed get people out of trouble if they just go through with it. Never bad mouth your country, I'm with you on that. I love the Philippines as well, though living in the United States more than half my life, I always promoted the country I was born in. I am very happy that there are many talented Filipinos in the world, and though Filipino hubbers may all be underrated, I can assure you - talent is talent. Keep up the good work, and this is indeed a well written hub.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Ron! Your name sounds so Pinoy! :) Once a Pinoy, always a Pinoy I always say.

There are 2 Filipinos in this week's HubNuggets, so things are looking up. See you around! :)


Karen Banes profile image

Karen Banes 7 years ago from Canada

Love this hub, and generally agree with it - there are so many potential pitfalls when it comes to ethics and writing. I write a travel blog and recently wrote about the Ethics of Travel Writing on there - a post inspired by the fact that I am now starting to get offered free travel in return for writing about the experience - now there's a minefield of ethics-related issues! Nice hub. Thanks.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Karen. I am very interested in your travel blog, I will go take a look at it. :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

You make interesting points here mommyfreelancer. All the best with your writing! :)


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Feline Prophet. Wish you the best as well!


alwaysabridesmaid profile image

alwaysabridesmaid 7 years ago

Hi, You are giving informative ideas..

Thanks!!!


Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Very well written hub. Too many just jump into writing for the net and do not consider these implications on just how the things they do affect the sites they are working for as well as their families and jobs. It is a great way to supplement your income but do so carefully.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Ashley Joy and alwaysabridesmaid (like your name, btw)! Writing as a means of income can be pretty addicting. I know - when I was starting I ended up having mild pneumonia because I slept very little everyday. I think that's about the time I realized I had to "police" myself.


Tesa Adams profile image

Tesa Adams 7 years ago from Austin, Texas

Great hub and wonderful photos also. Both of you keep up the great work! I will be back to check out more of your hubs.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Tesa! I always feature my husband's photos in my other hubs. :)

He will be thrilled. See you around! :)


robertsloan2 profile image

robertsloan2 7 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Interesting. Most of your points are things I'd call personal decisions, not general ethics. Others I disagree on. Others aren't relevant whether I disagree with them or not because I'm not in that situation -- I don't have an outside job.

I did a lot of things during the idle time at it when I did, though. Online writing would not have taken over any of the time I had to do things because I got in the rhythm of prioritizing the work I was paid for first. It was easy to adapt and so I'd do art or read or do a lot of immersive things while waiting for the machine to run. That decision rests on whether you need to draw a hard line in order to control what you're doing.

I disagree on the point about not writing similar topics when you write for a client. If you establish yourself as an authority in their niche, then your work is more valuable to them and your byline is more trusted. That benefits them. They didn't pay you for an exclusive contract. You're giving them a huge freebie that goes for a very high rate in other circumstances.

If I sell an art instruction book to North Light books, then I will need to give them first refusal on all art instruction books I do. What they're paying is reasonable and even in that situation they're only asking to look at it before I send it to other publishers and decide accept-reject on the concept. If they accept it, great, it's sold, do the book. If not, I might as well try to sell it somewhere else. But either way, if I wanted to write one I could write it. I don't nail myself to it without a contract just because they're going to see my other clients as competitors. That one just seems way off to me.

Your decision to separate your professional work from your writing is something personal that's probably for the best given that you're doing a regular day job. Depending on the job and its stresses, that may be a good rule for keeping sanity.

The article is a bit surprising to me mostly because you call these things ethics. I think of ethics more as decisions on what's right or wrong, not things that are about your own personal decisions. The right decision on any of these questions is something that you answer for yourself but the answers could be completely wrong for someone else.

The one about balancing family time/play time is a good example. Some people don't have that problem. Some people who do have that problem would choose to deal with it in another way and recognize when family squabbles are getting so bad that they need to get away from the family enough to cool down. Play time -- that's weighing what other things you want to do with your play time and if you'd enjoy online writing more, then that's a personal choice in itself. Maybe a health choice if you drift into becoming too sedentary at the computer but that's not an ethics matter. That's a health decision.

I don't put health decisions in the same level as ethics decisions. They are way too personal and affected most by your genes, your other habits, how much you prioritize health concerns. They get presented that way, but they are not ethics questions. It is not moral superiority to work out every day, it's a hobby that's enjoyable for a lot of people and not at all to others on a continuum.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Robertsloan2. I don't expect everyone to agree with these, and in fact I have stated that these are self-imposed ethics, really, a way of "regulating" my writing, which is an alternate way of income for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 7 years ago from USA

As a freelance writer myself, I agree with your "Ethics" suggestions…Especially, when it comes to time constraints around family and play. One needs to strive for balance, which at times is a difficult task…


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Yes, Nancy's Niche, it is really difficult. Thank you for dropping by.:)


Song-Bird profile image

Song-Bird 7 years ago from Michigan

This is a great hub. It's easy to get addicted to writing and have it cut it to family time. I know, for me, between hubpages and working on a novel I can easily let other things go.


Kyon 7 years ago

thank you for tips and warn.It useful for our writer.


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi, Song-Bird! What a nice name. :) I had to let go of some freelance jobs when I committed to HubPages. Otherwise more important things will suffer. Nice meeting you, see you around!


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Egiftscreation and Kyon. Thank you for dropping by. See you around!


Lisa Luv profile image

Lisa Luv 7 years ago from Conneticut, USA

VERY HANDY WRITING THANK YOU!


regality profile image

regality 7 years ago from Iloilo City, Philippines

a good read! very convincing.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

Congrats on your HubNuggets nomination. I still have 9 more nominees to read, but from the capsules I read, I'm confident you have one of my votes.

My brother is my photographer. I bookmarked you so I could come back and read more and review your husband's photos.

I loved your profile bio.

Good luck!


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Rmcrayne. It helps to have your own photographer, right? :)


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you, Lisa Luv and Regality. See you around!


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

Oh wow, another hubnugget! Congratulations mommyfreelancer!


mommyfreelancer profile image

mommyfreelancer 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Oh no, Emi. This is the same hub that was a Wannabe the same week GH's "fiesta" hub was. The HubNugget Winner Badge was given by Cam Anju recently so I displayed it, too. :)


Jon Rubin profile image

Jon Rubin 6 years ago

Fantastic advice. It's important to remember that freelance writers need to follow ethics just like every other business person. Just because you're on your own doesn't mean you're free to do whatever you please.

Great hub. I look forward to reading more of your work.


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A.

Great Hub! Sound advice, and I'm going to check out the plagiarism detection sites. Although "I write each and every word," you probably have a point. I may eventually duplicate something without intention, you can never be to careful! Thanks!

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