If you want to be a writer, but want more freedom and flexibility, freelancing is a great route to go down. Being your own boss means you can work whenever and wherever you want, with full control over your working environment and hours. The only limit on what you earn is you.
Joining the ranks of self-employed writers means you can instantly cut out all the office politics, the workspace that consists of a small desk in a dark room, and endless polite small talk. For me, the biggest benefit is that I can work exactly how I like. If I feel like listening to music, I can. If I feel like working on my sofa, I can. If I need some fresh air or a change of scene – no problem. I’m not bothering anyone else, and no one else is bothering me. Perfect.
However, like any style of working, freelancing has its downsides and pitfalls too. It’s not a case of sitting around all day doing whatever you feel like doing; you have to be extremely self-motivated when there are no immediate consequences for taking a few too many days off or spending just a bit too much time on Facebook.
The good news is that if you’re dedicated to making it work, you can have a much better and less stressful work life. You can spend more time with friends and family and get a much better quality of life through not having to commute every day, wearing uncomfortable clothes, or having to endure the majority of your working day with people you didn’t choose. It’s not for everyone. But have you got what it takes? Read on and find out what you need to know about being a freelance writer.
It takes time to establish yourself
No one achieves freelance success overnight, and to be successful you need to try everything and see what works. Some people prefer real-world advertising, like leaflets through doors, business cards in shops, local events and so on. Others prefer promoting themselves via social networks and making use of existing contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Others may prefer to apply for short-term contracts through job sites, or get on the books of agencies specialising in their field. There are also plenty of freelance websites that list short-term jobs and projects.
Again, getting yourself known and tapping into the right industries takes time. Getting marketing materials printed, working on your website, updating your social profiles, preparing talks for events, and getting involved in the right groups requires work. To keep yourself going for the first difficult months, don’t quit your day job until you have at least six months of liveable savings to work off. Some people choose to rely on their family or partner to cover their shortfall, but I’d avoid doing that because you never know when your relationship or their circumstances will change.
You’ll have to add a lot more tasks to your list
Photo by Fredrik Rubensson
Getting into freelancing can be tricky
Unfortunately, you don’t just wake up one day and decide to be a freelancer. No, it takes much more work than that. Of course, there are many approaches when it comes to getting into freelancing. You need to find some clients before you do anything else. You should see what’s out there before you do anything else. Look for freelance writing jobs online and check whether any might suit your skill set. Once you have had a look online, you can decide whether this career is right for you.
Plagiarism will lose you clients (and respect)
The worst thing you can ever do as a writer is plagiarize someone else’s work. It might surprise you to learn that sometimes, you can copy work by accident. If you get your information online, you might rewrite it in such a way that it still matches. You should find some free plagiarism checkers and ensure that every piece of copy you write is 100% unique. That way, you will never have a problem with this issue. The moment you plagiarize work, you lose your reputation. No one wants to hire someone who is stealing work from others.
Sometimes you will get writer’s block
When your income relies on your writing, things can get a little tough. We all get writer’s block from time to time, and it can be a real problem. Your clients need you to produce excellent copy every time. If your brain isn’t in the right mode, though, that can feel like an impossible mission. When you get a block, there are certain things you can do to relieve it. The worst thing you can do is try to force yourself to write straight away. The moment you do that, the entire thing will get much harder than it is now.
When it comes to writing, timing is everything
If you are a slow writer, you might have an issue when it comes to freelancing. The faster you can work, the more money you can make. If it takes you all day to write one piece, you are unlikely to make a lot of money. Aside from that, your clients expect you to finish each project to a deadline. If you start missing these deadlines, you will have a problem. People value writers who can produce the work they need when they need it. If you don’t fall into that category, you will lose business.
You need an office space
When you first start out, you might think that you don’t need an office. Many writers work from home so why can’t you? Well, if you want to stay sane, you should look for somewhere you can work in peace. If there are distractions in your home, like children or pets, you will never settle down to work. You should look for a workspace where you feel comfortable. Trust me, this tip will be a massive help.
Freelancing is not an easy game, but it comes with loads of benefits. I’ve even known people who have tried freelancing and then gone back to being employed still highly recommending giving it a go even if you don’t stick with it long-term.
Now that you know what it takes, get out there and make it happen. You can do it!