Freelance writing can be exciting, tiring, frustrating, rewarding, and sometimes even boring. I’ve been freelance writing as a side gig for two years while working full-time at a printing company’s in-house marketing department. I recently made the jump to full-time freelance writing in February, and there are things that I’ve noticed about this field that set it apart from more traditional careers.
Like any other job, you take the sweet with the bitter. But if you’re thinking about getting into freelance writing as a side gig or full-time work, it’s helpful to go into it with a clearer picture of what it entails to improve your chances of success.
- Perhaps this is because I’m an introvert, but I love working from home. I get to dress comfortably, set my own schedule, there’s no commute, and forced polite small talk with coworkers is a thing of the past. The freedom and flexibility are amazing, especially coming from an 8-5 office job where I was stuck in a cubicle that was always too cold (now control of the thermostat is ALL MINE).
- When a client loves my work, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. All of a sudden I feel like Sally Fields accepting an Oscar — they like me, they really like me! Who doesn’t love getting their ego stroked every once in a while?
- I go out to eat way less now that I don’t go into an office anymore. Before, I would eat lunch out at least a couple of times a week because sometimes I would be too lazy to pack one. Now, I don’t have to pack anything because I can easily grab something from the kitchen.
- People will think that you’re more interesting than you actually are (okay, maybe this one only applies to me). You’ll also get a lot of “That’s so cool!” or “You’re so lucky you get to work from home!” and you smile back like, “Why yes…yes I am.”
- Setting your own schedule is great, but it can have the drawback of working too much or too little. It can be hard finding a balance and feeling like you have to constantly be on the grind. On the flip side, it’s easy to take an unnecessary two-hour lunch because there’s no one there to tell you that you can’t.
- I’m not going to sugar coat it — competition is fierce. There will always be people who will do a job cheaper than you and most clients know it and use it as leverage. The thing is, you need to be able to offer other skills besides writing that will justify a higher rate like certifications, in-depth knowledge of a niche, or technical skills like search engine optimization and basic HTML.
- Looking for work can get really disheartening at times. Whether you’re applying for job after job or sending out cold emails, you’ll often not get a response. Rejection sucks, but it’s unavoidable in this field. Just remember that it’s a numbers game and that sooner or later, you’ll land a client and if you do good work for them, they’ll recommend you to others (referrals are truly the bee’s knees). If you’re not getting any responses back, don’t be afraid to ask an honest friend or family member to look over your resume, pitch, website, etc. to see what you can do better.
- Freelance writing is different from a lot of other careers because you don’t need a degree or experience to get into it. Because the field is open to pretty much anyone, unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of aspiring and new writers. For example, I once joined a job website only to find out that I had to pay for a yearly subscription just to see and apply for jobs. There are so many free job websites out there that there really isn’t a reason why you should pay to join one.
- If you’ve ever been job hunting, you already know that applying for jobs can be pretty daunting. Well, some employers/clients looking for freelance writers like to add their own hellish twist to it. One time, I applied for a job by submitting a resume and samples to later receive an email asking me to create a profile on their website and submit a minimum of three stories – and there wasn’t even a guarantee that I would get an interview. I didn’t do it because I wouldn’t have been able to stop them from using my work that they got for free. Be careful of employers/clients who ask you to jump through a lot of hoops, especially when it comes to doing work for them without any compensation.
- When you land a client, always make sure that you both agree on the pay rate (if you have a contract, even better) and to stand your ground when questioned. I once had a client’s SEO guy try to undercut my rate even though the client and I had agreed to that rate way before the new SEO guy was in the picture. I told the SEO guy that my rate is X amount and if there’s an issue with it, then I would have to discuss that with the client. Guess what happened? The client paid my invoice without any question. Only discuss your pay rate with the person who is actually paying you.
Overall, I’m happy with my decision to become a freelance writer and I think the good outweighs the bad and shady aspects of this business. It’s not easy but anything worthwhile often isn’t. If you’re starting out with truly no experience, look for some non-profits you can volunteer your writing services to in order to build up a portfolio. VolunteerMatch.com has a lot of remote and local volunteering opportunities. Whatever you do, be open to learning and practicing your craft — after all, if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write!
Veronica Solomon (aka Wordy Veronica) is a freelance writer with a background in search engine optimization and social media marketing. She has written content for a variety of industries such as wedding photography, healthcare, printing, and more. Visit her website at wordyveronica.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
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