Freelance writing is not something to be taken lightly. This is a serious business. Unfortunately, when most people think about freelance writing they daydream about working in their pajamas, vacationing, being home for their kids, creating their own schedules, and doing what they love.
The good news is that all of these daydreams are possible, although most freelancers don’t vacation much as they are mostly workaholics…or is that just me?
The point is I rarely see people talking about the downsides of freelance writing full-time. I guess I will have to be the one to burst your freelance fantasy bubble. The truth is starting a home business in freelance writing is damn hard work.
Doing it all:
As a freelance writer you own your own business. Being the boss comes with great responsibility. You are responsible for doing your own taxes (which is about 15.3% of your income), accounting, marketing, and all administration tasks.
Solution? Hire an accountant, a tax expert, a marketing consultant, and a virtual assistant.
It is Always There:
With a home business it is always there. Forget to send an email? No need to wait until tomorrow, the office is right there. Just boot up the computer and suddenly your entire night has been sucked away. It’s a vicious circle being a workaholic and having the work so available. Might as well throw a bottle of whiskey in there too.
Solution? Create a daily schedule. When your day is over do not go back in your office or on the computer for anything. Work when you are supposed to and don’t when you’re not supposed to.
No Employee Benefits:
None. No sick days, paid vacations, employer provided health benefits, or disability.
Solution: Sign up for a self-employment or writer’s association that offers benefits, or buy your own health insurance. Save enough money to live off of for 6 months or more in case you get sick or hurt.
Your self-discipline will be tested on a daily basis. You must work when you are supposed to, meet deadlines, and do it all without a boss lighting a fire under your ass.
Solution: Gain self-discipline, fast.
The competition is tight and getting work means working for it. I once read that a writer’s work gets accepted 1 out of 10 times, and I believe that to be true. On average, nine of your article submissions to magazines will be rejected.
Solution: Create better pitches. Grab your editor’s attention. Proofread your work. Memorize the publication’s writer’s guidelines. Follow directions. Read past issues of the magazine. (This is still a lot of work!)
I’ve been at this since 2001, and I still get those “oh, so when are you going to get a real job” looks from people. Usually it goes something like this:
“So, what do you do?”
“I’m a freelance writer”
and the response is
“Do you get a lot of work?”
“Don’t you have a full-time job?”
“When are you going to go back to work?”
or (from relatives who know what I do)
“Are you still writing?”
Many people have little respect for freelancers. They assume it’s a waste of time and that it is not a real job. They also assume that you can’t make any money doing it.
Solution: Demand respect and educate (or ignore) those who do not respect freelancing.
Well, there it is. The cons of freelance writing. The downside of home business. If you’re still reading this that means your eyes aren’t bleeding and you will probably make it as a freelance writer!
What is your #1 freelance writing con?