I love freelance writing. I have freedom to an extent that I would not have if I worked a regular nine to five job. Every day is a new adventure and I enjoy writing and I get paid to do it. However, I spent two decades scared to take the plunge and leave my job for a freelance career. Then I was fired. I guess I did not take the plunge- I was pushed.
I learned a lot about freelancing the hard way. I struggled for months because I was aiming for the big, paying gigs and ignoring the smaller jobs. I learned that working as a freelance writer was not like anything I had pictured in my mind. I learned that several small jobs were often better than holding out for the big jobs.
If you are planning to move to a freelance writing lifestyle, I suggest looking at the cold truth of what being a freelancer is like first. The first paragraph of this article paints a pretty picture of freelancing and I meant every word. What I did not mention were the hard times. I left out the part about worrying from week to week, in the early part of my career, if I would make enough money to keep the lights on or if I would be able to feed myself.
Freelancing is not:
- Fast money
- Lazy days at home writing
- A job you can do in a few hours each day
- A procrastination friendly occupation
You are not going to write a $500 article every day. Chances are good that you will have to write a lot of $30 to $50 articles each week to pay the bills. You will need office hours, but you will work all the time. Office hours are for clients to call, interviews or to keep friends and family at bay. You will also need to be self-motivated if you plan to have any chance at all of being a successful writer.
If you were thinking freelancing would be like anything on the list above- you may want to think it over again. At least keep your day job for now.
As a freelance writer you are the business. You are the staff, the accountant and, most importantly, you are customer support. Happy customers equal return customers and referrals.
I am not attempting to deter you from choosing a freelance writing career. I am trying to keep you from dealing with the struggles and failures I dealt with. Looking back at my career, I would do it all over again except I would have a better plan in place.
Now let us take a look at the advantages of freelance writing:
- A shorter commute to work
- More variety in your work day
- Flexible hours
- Freedom to choose who you work for
Freelancing comes with its mountains to move, but I would not trade the freedom and control I have over my life for any other job. There are good weeks and bad weeks, but proper planning and hard work will get you through the hard times.
Before you make a decision, write a marketing plan for yourself. Decide where you will find clients. Make a list of everything you will need, including monthly bills such as rent, and use that list to determine how many paying writing jobs will be needed each week.
Once your lists are written, ask your family and friends to look at the lists and be honest with you about them. Be realistic and set goals. Most importantly, if you are not a part time freelancer now, become one before you quit your job. You need to find out if you can do it before you have to do it.