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Why become a freelance writer? The pros & cons

Updated on April 9, 2015
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Why start writing freelance?

In today’s world it seems like everyone is looking to make a little side money. Sometimes it’s for spending on a new outfit or a trip out to the movies, but usually it’s for more necessary items such as rent and food. The most appealing jobs are the ones where you get to make money on your terms like freelance writing. If you can turn it into a full time career, even better! However, before you take the plunge into the online world of writing for money, you should ask yourself some serious questions.

Can you make it?

1. Are you an above average writer?

If the answer is no then you may want to consider something else. Articles that are packed full of grammar mistakes and misspelled words are simply not going to cut it.

2. Are you okay with not making money right away?

The ugly truth of any start up freelance business is that you need time to establish yourself before you can turn a profit. When you start out nobody knows your name, you have an unknown (and therefore risky) reputation, and it will take a significant amount of work to build up your portfolio and client list.

3. Can you work alone ALL the time?

This is one of those tricky things that everyone thinks they can handle, but it’s actually a lot tougher than it sounds. Sure, you can collaborate with your fellow freelancers online and hang out with your kids, but there’s something to be said for having a physically accessible co-workers.

If you were able to answer yes to all of these questions, then congratulations, you may have the chops to become a freelance writer. As the preceding questions eluded, it’s not all fun and games though.

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Pros

  • You can work from virtually anywhere. If you don’t feel like leaving the house for a week straight, you can do that. And if the view gets boring you can pack it up and go somewhere else to work like the park, library, or even the coffee shop if you don’t mind looking a little cliché.
  • There is virtually no required equipment besides a computer, internet access, and your wits. The first two are free to use at any public library, but you’re on your own for the wit.
  • You can have flexible working hours. If you find that you’re at your sharpest at 2 am and have a hard time waking up for a standard 9-5, no problem. As long as you meet your client’s deadlines you are good to go.
  • No uniform is required at your workplace. If you don’t want to dress up like a professional then you’re free to do so. Heck, you can work in your pajamas and not shower for weeks on end (although that’s not recommended),
  • There is no sweeter joy than being your own boss. You make the rules, you choose the assignments you want to take on, and you have complete creative control.

Cons

  • It can be hard to get started. Learning the ropes, creating a portfolio, finding clients, and networking can take a lot of time and energy. Only people who are truly committed to sticking it out will find themselves making an income out of writing.
  • Working alone can get lonely. You should prepare for this by scheduling out time for socializing in the real world. Having coffee with a friend or a lunch date are great for breaking up the quiet monotony that can come from working all by yourself.
  • You may lack professional supports that are present in a traditional office setting. For instance, you won’t have a supervisor to guide you on what format looks more appropriate or co-workers to use as a sounding board. The best way to bypass this is to be active in the online community. Freelance writers are a very friendly crowd and are always willing to help out a newbie. Post comments and questions on topical blogs or forums.
  • Overworking is another problem that freelancers face. When you set your own hours it can be easy to lose track of time when working on a project. While having set working hours is a good solution for some, others find that it hinders the creative process. Personally, I like to track my hours on my google calendar, and when I hit 40 hours I know that I’ve put my time in for the week.
  • There is no separation between work and home when you’re a freelancer. No longer can you leave the stress at the office because home IS the office. Setting up a designated workspace in your home will make setting boundaries easier. If all else fails, try working from the library or another quiet location.
  • Freelancing is a popular career choice and has never been easier with the implementation of technology. This also means that there has never been more competition. No matter how good of a writer you are or how many people you know, there is always going to be someone with a slightly better edge. Freelancers need to have a thick skin to handle a lot of rejection…and yes, you will be rejected at some point.

Now you're ready to open for business!
Now you're ready to open for business! | Source

Welcome to the world of freelance!

Freelancing is a wonderful career choice if you have the dedication to make it out to the other side (the money side that is). Getting to the point where you’re making substantial income is the hardest part about it. The only tip I can give you is to hold on to your day job while you gain traction and remember that you write because you love to write, not to make money. When you write quality work the money will find its way to you eventually, just stick with it.

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    • vhayward profile image
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      Valerie Hayward 3 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you Jodah! I agree with the patience and persistence, they say it takes an average of 3 years for a blogger to gain a good following and make a significant amount of money off of it!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good straight forward advice here vhayward. I think the secrets to becoming a freelance writer (in addition to writing well) are patience and persistence. Voted up.

    • vhayward profile image
      Author

      Valerie Hayward 3 years ago from Michigan

      Mutt face, I absolutely agree about the pay and expectations. I'm on another site, iwriter, and most of them want to pay $0.005 a word. There are some who pay up to $0.03 but they are far and few between.

    • Muttface profile image

      Muttface 3 years ago from Portugal

      Two of my friends have been working from home for 8 years now. They definitely overwork! There is no separation between week and weekend for them either, but they seem to like it more than driving into the big smoke every day. Their biggest complaint about the whole freelance writing gig is that people expect top notch articles, but only want to pay peanuts for them.

    • vhayward profile image
      Author

      Valerie Hayward 3 years ago from Michigan

      I'm glad this was useful for you Janellegems, I had a hard time deciding to start freelance writing myself. Of course, I have a lot of experience as a mobile worker/ working from home so even though I don't freelance full-time yet, it's easy to feel like I do :)

    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 3 years ago from United States

      Great Hub. Thanks for writing about the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing writing. I absolutely agree with these points as I have encountered some of these myself. Very helpful.

    • vhayward profile image
      Author

      Valerie Hayward 3 years ago from Michigan

      I am still fairly new to freelance writing but I have been working from home for roughly 8 months now. I still work full time as a social worker, so my progress is not quite as far as I personally would like.

      When I began writing for pay I started on iwriter, which pays peanuts to start, but for me personally it was a good way to build experience. Now I am at their higher level and make a decent amount per article, but that is all ghost writing without any sort of byline. I also have written an article for a little known magazine out of Grand Rapids, though the issue is not published yet and I am still pending payment. Another site I recommend is elance. You bid on different freelance jobs available and are paid directly through the site on PayPal. Of course, hubpages is the last site I've been focusing on since here I can write whatever I fancy.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      What are some examples of the sorts of writing that you do for pay? Do you write advertising or blog or newsletter copy for businesses in your town? Do you find writing jobs at websites? Or?

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