A few years ago, I decided to jump headfirst into the world of freelance writing. While scary, freelance writing can be a blissfully rewarding experience for those entering the market. However, it’s not for everyone; depending on how you like to work, and it comes with its disadvantages. If you’re looking to enter the field, it’s good to know what to expect before jumping in. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, as you weigh the pros and cons of freelance writing.
You set your own hours. Gone is the need to worry about waking up early, beating traffic, and other time restraints. Since you’ll be able to work on your own schedule, you also get to decide whether you work on any given day or not. When other aspects of your life require more attention, you have the power to put gigs aside completely and not worry about repercussions from a larger organization.
You pick your spaces. Related to the point above, you get to work wherever you want—whether that’s in a café, in your bedroom, or anywhere else you can bring your materials. Fixed office space can be stifling for writers, but now that you can choose where you get your writing done, you’re much more likely to enjoy it. When your work area is in a good place, your creativity can flow.
You decide your salary and clients. How much you make and how you make it is up to you, as well as who you work with to make it happen. If a troublesome client comes along, you have the freedom to turn them down; if you want to put in extra time to do multiple projects, nobody can make you do otherwise. Unless you enter into a partnership or work with a freelance program, you won’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
You won’t get benefits. If you’re leaving one of many full-time jobs behind, chances are you’re foregoing healthcare options as well as retirement funds. Many employees seeking freelance writers tend to not offer benefits, either. You’ll have to budget these out of your profits on your own, which can make a dent on what you keep at the end of the week.
Work won’t always be steady. There will be times when you can’t secure constant jobs, or times when payments come late. In some cases, a paycheck never comes. What’s more is the fact that freelance writing is a growing market, which means you’ll be facing other writers just as qualified and capable as you. To find a good balance in this market, you have to be able to manage your money well and prepare for dry spells.
You’ll face distractions and personal limitations. While you have the final say on much of what transpires on the job, the onus is also on you to keep at it. Working at home or in a public space alike can be distracting, depending on what’s happening around you. While you decide your clients and other personnel, you still have to deal with their schedules and any conflicts that arise. If you mess up on a project or fail to do something correctly, you’ll bear the brunt of the consequences. Since you will be running your own business, you’re responsible for both your successes and failures.
In short, while you gain a lot of freedom from going the freelance route; you lose structure from it, as well. If you can be honest with your work habits, and understand the real challenges that come with the territory, it just might be the right career for you.