Are you considering writing for a living? Wondering about the pros and cons of being a freelance writer? It’s not a pipe dream anymore – it’s totally doable.
Being 100% honest, tt’s not easy (you won’t get rich overnight), but if you put in the effort, you can absolutely build a thriving business as a freelance writer.
One thing that is critical to your long term success however, is that you find a way to balance the pros and cons of freelance writing.
This article will answer many of your most pressing questions and share some essential tips.
The Pros of Freelance Writing
Freelance writing may not be everyone’s cup of cappuccino, latte or espresso, but in the list below, you’ll see that the pros outweigh the cons — by a sizable margin!
It’s easy to get started
Unlike other businesses, you don’t need much to get going. If you have a laptop, you can start setting up a LinkedIn profile and then a website. Resources like this one will help you optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Choose a profitable niche and look for opportunities to offer various (or a specific) writing services to businesses in that niche. If choosing a niche sounds overwhelming, check out this article for some ideas.
Oh, and you’ll also need some coffee. Put the kettle on, get your favorite insulated mug and let’s get started.
You can make as much or as little as you want
When you’re freelancing, you’re in charge of how much you make and how much you charge. Your rates will vary depending on your background knowledge and/or experience in the niche or topics you’re writing about as well as the types of writing services you’re offering.
For instance, you can charge more for doing a huge sales campaign if it’s something you’ve done before and you’re skilled at getting great results for your clients. Typically, you’ll charge less for other types of services like editing and proofreading.
You can also decide when to raise your rates. (Tip: don’t take three years before you raise your rates, and don’t start out charging super cheap either!) If you struggle to figure out what to charge, be sure to join copywriting groups on Facebook, like the Copywriter Club, to get valuable input from others.
The bottom line is that your motivation, dedication, discipline, and effort will determine how much you earn.
You control your work environment and your hours
Do you hate working in a boring office? As a freelancer, you can work anywhere you want, and almost any time. Coffee shops are a favorite, but if you need more peace and quiet, then there is no reason you can’t work from home on the comfort of your couch.
You’ll also have the ability to take breaks, move around and get fresh air. You can decide how many hours you’ll work a day and you can plan your work schedule around the time of day you are most productive. Work as much or as little as you like but make sure you include time to exercise on your daily routine!
You can use your own creative methods to write well
Without an office space, no one will think you’re weird if you bounce a tennis ball against the wall while you think. Or if you stare off into space while doodling on a note pad, mumbling to yourself. Play word association games to come up with a great headline or subject line – whatever works for you!
If staring at a blank screen makes you anxious, take a quick break and do something different to take your mind off the task at hand. Then return to your writing desk and try again. You may find ideas flowing more easily. For more helpful tips, check out this article on Wordstream.
There are clients in virtually every niche who need your services
Not every type of freelance writing is for everyone. Not a fan of technical writing? No problem. There are so many other niches and services you can explore. Consider B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), writing product reviews, product descriptions, white papers, reports, grant proposals, social media strategizing and post writing, scriptwriting, editorials, advertorials, and more.
When considering potential niches, think about the topics you are passionate about, or ones you’d like to learn about. If you’re not into popular topics like minimalism, homesteading, marketing, fitness, how about exploring topics like backpacking around the world, clothing design, gardening or image consulting, and adding your own spin on it? The possibilities are endless.
You can change and pivot your writing business when you need to
There is nothing wrong with starting on one niche and then moving on to a different one. If after a few months of writing about travel or food, you grow tired of it, you can always try something else. It doesn’t mean you failed. If you’re passionate about a topic, you’ll probably earn more and find the writing process to be much easier.
If something big happens in the world – a natural disaster or a new trend develops in business – you can adapt your business to address new needs that arise within that context. This is helpful when it comes to keeping your business stable and growing it (even if it grows in a different direction than you had planned).
Never be afraid to pivot!
The Cons of Freelance Writing
As fun as freelancing can be, it also has a few downsides. The good news is that you can manage or even eliminate most of them or because you’re the one in charge. Let’s take a look at the most common ones:
You’ll always be facing the next deadline
You may not have a boss breathing down your neck, but you’ll still have deadlines as a freelancer. In some ways, your clients are you boss. The difference between clients and a real “boss” is that you always have the option of “firing” a client if they are difficult to work with.
You’ll need to manage your time and deadlines in a sustainable way to keep your clients happy while avoiding burnout. It’s vital that you not take on more than you can handle.
Unexpected rush work is a thing, and the timing is seldom convenient. Be prepared to handle that and prioritize where you need to. If you’re going to accept last minute or rush projects, you definitely ought to charge a premium.
Clients can come and go
Don’t get too hung up on the clients who have just signed big contracts or retainer deals with you. They may not last. Clients come and go, so always be marketing. You never know what next month’s workflow might look like, even if you’ve just had a month where you were fully booked.
Eventually, as your business grows, it will become easier to manage your client base. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a position where you might need to turn away work.
Your revenue might be sporadic
Freelancing means you don’t always have a steady paycheck. Your income may be fantastic one month and low the next month. This is totally normal, but you can mitigate it with a consistent routine of staying in touch with your client base, pitching your services, blogging, posting on social media, networking, etc.
You’ll need to manage your time and block distractions
This sounds like a small thing, but it can be one of the biggest barriers to your productivity (and your income) if you don’t master it.
Time management is an essential skill. With experience, you’ll learn how many projects you can reasonably take on per week, how many hours of focused productivity you can manage per day as well as schedule enough time for revisions.
Distractions are everywhere – the phone, internet, social media, chores, a mess that you suddenly have the random urge to clean, etc. Cultivate the discipline to block it out.
Procrastination is another work buster. Keep it at bay with tricks like the Pomodoro technique, breaking work up into smaller chunks and giving yourself small incentives.
You need to be open but not vulnerable to criticism
As a writer, dealing with feedback and criticism can be a source of hard feelings, especially when you feel like you’ve just poured your heart into a piece. Grow a thick skin, be resilient, and realize that not every client will like or love your work. Their expectations will differ and this is not personal, it’s business.
Take criticism and feedback with an open mind and a teachable attitude. Offer limited revisions, and don’t fight for your opinion unless you can persuade the client with enough facts and research to back your argument. Remember, the idea is that you’re trying to do the best for your client, not your pride.
You need to be able to adapt, adjust and handle the varying needs, content requests, opportunities, styles, and brand voices depending on the project. It sounds like a lot but with a little practice, you’ll actually get pretty good at not taking other people’s opinions too personally.
You can become a successful freelance writer
Freelance writing is an achievable, stimulating and interesting way to earn a living, with far more pros than cons. Just make sure you don’t go into it thinking you can pull it off all on your own. Do your homework and learn from your own mistakes as well as those of others. Invest in courses to sharpen your skills and keep a growth mindset. Embrace change and new opportunities.
Do you have any questions about the pros and cons of freelance writing? Share them in the comments below so we can help you out.
Freelance writing is a rewarding and flexible career that’s easy to get started and allows you to specialize in a niche that interests you. And since you’re your own boss, you should be able to manage whatever challenges come your way.