How hard is it to be a freelance writer: an honest first-hand account

October 17, 2018

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More and more people these days considering being a freelancer writer, and you can understand why – the idea of working from your laptop as your own boss, and ultimate flexibility is very appealing! However, is it all it’s cracked up to be? And how hard is it to be a freelance writer?

This is an account based on my experiences as a freelancer writer to give you a true and honest representation of what it is really like to pursue this profession. The aim is to give a realistic picture of the advantages and challenges of this endeavour before you jump in, so you can be properly prepared!

Getting started

The early stages of setting up your career as a freelance writer is probably the hardest part. Getting things set up, building a client base and establishing yourself in the sector can take a lot of time and effort, and it may be a while until you see any concrete results.

When you first start out as a writer the biggest challenge is convincing others that you can write. Many clients and publications want to deal with established writers who can demonstrate the quality of their work through previous clients, past work and published articles. However, how to you show this if you are new to the industry? One way you can do this is by providing writing samples (so it is important to prepare these in advance) or by offering to do trial work for free.

Also things can be rather hit and miss as you start working with new clients. The longer you work as a writer, you will establish relationships with regular clients and know the best way of working with them. Most importantly, you will know that they are reliable in paying you! When you’re starting out, however, you will be dealing with a lot of new clients and it is par for the course that some of these clients may not be reliable in paying you in time, in full or even at all.


Flexibility & other advantages

Having said all that, when you persevere through these challenges you will find that freelance writing has many advantages. As a freelance writer, you can set your own schedule, work under your own direction and wherever you want. You aren’t limited or affected by the particular working style or work culture of your office – you can do whatever makes you most productive and keeps you happy! More than this, you can even

Another advantage is that as a freelance writer, even though you must report to clients and deliver on contracts, you effectively work for yourself, and so can say goodbye to the trials and tribulations of having to report to a boss! This also means there is no office politics or dramas to bring you down and interfere with your work.

Ongoing challenges

Once you build up a base of clients, and have ironed out the kinks of being paid and other important considerations, you will find things run fairly well, however you may still come up against challenges from time to time. Particularly as time wears on, the biggest roadblocks you’re likely to face will be those which come from yourself.

Working freelance, it can be difficult to keeping yourself motivated. Without a boss on your case, and office you have to turn up to, or a team to share the work with, you have to be very disciplined to make sure you keep up your work and don’t procrastinate from getting work done. Otherwise you will find yourself struggling to finish work before deadlines, or worse not delivering it at all!

Another aspect to aware of is by its nature, freelance work is uncertain. One of the great freedoms of freelancing is being able to control how much and how often you work, as opposed to a full time or part time job with a set number of hours each week. However, this also cuts both ways – meaning that sometimes work is not available, so you do not have a fixed and reliable stream of work and therefore neither do you have a fixed and reliable income, making this one thing which is hard to be a freelance writer.