Freelance writing online is often touted as a dream job. It certainly has its benefits, but it has its downfalls as well. In fact, the drawbacks to freelance writing are often the flip side to the positives of the profession.
1. Your schedule allows for a fair bit of flexibility.
Because you are essentially working for yourself, the job allows you to write in just about any location: your home office, a neighborhood cafe, the beach (so long as your computer doesn’t run out of batteries and the wireless connection isn’t hampered)–anywhere you want. Need a day off? No problem. There is no boss to check in with, and so long as you meet your deadlines and set time to deal with the backlog upon your return, you’re all set.
2. You have a multitude of clients–and can walk away from one if it’s not working with you.
Most of us have had a boss that made our life miserable at some point in time. I used to dread going to work, and tried to plan my day around avoiding this person. Writing online allows you to work with a multitude of clients, so an occassional bad experience does not ruin your life. You also have the ability to stop working with a client if things aren’t copasetic.
3. You can make an unlimited amount of money.
I’ve certainly met my share of six-figure freelancers, and those who make a decent living working part-time hours. Although there is a cap to the amount of writing you can do (and the pay per word or article you will find), publishing a book, developing a product, teaching workshops (in person or online) or speaking at live events are always options. Unlike working for a company or individual who keeps the hard-earned money you bring into the business, you are rewarded monetarily for your own innovation.
4. You are responsible for your own successes.
This can be incredibly empowering and gratifying, especially over time. To see a viable, lucrative business, self-taught and self-made, develop and thrive from a simple fleeting idea… there’s nothing like it.
1. Your work can take over your life, if you let it.
My partner in crime works normal business hours, and his presence keeps me somewhat sane. I know this because when he’s left for business trips, I’ve found myself sitting in a pile of papers and reference materials until the week morning hours. If you allow distractions (such as the telephone or social media) to creep in while you’re working, the boundaries can become inseparable and you can find yourself whittling the night away with little to show for it.
Accepting an occasional last-minute project (particularly when rush fees are provided) and having a week or two with a heavier workload than normal is one thing. However, not creating space devoid of work (and being fiercely protective of it) is a recipe for burnout.
2. You will likely have less-than-savory interactions with clients and editors.
Some are simply communication problems. Having to rewrite some copy because your client didn’t explain what they wanted in the first place, for example, can sometimes be prevented by getting very specific, detailed instructions. But some people are impossible to please, it seems, or perhaps they need to find a different writer. Disorganized editors who lose things and ask for them to be resent ad nauseum, people who take your ideas and run with them (without hiring you) and general poor manners and frustrating behavior is common.
3. You have to sort through the rubble.
For every client that pays you a reasonable hourly fee, there will be ten who expect you to work for pennies (or worse, for free). Perhaps due in part to the proliferation of content mills, many writers have no problem working for cheap. There is certainly money out there for freelance writing online, but you have to look for it.
4. You are responsible for your own failure.
No more going into work exhausted because you stayed up late reading Harry Potter, or checking your e-mail during work hours and picking up a paycheck–unless you’re prepared to see the outcome in your bottom line. Freelance writing isn’t just a dream job. It’s work.
About the Author: Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and editor. She also provides proofreading and copyediting services to small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, to help spiff up their e-books, online courses and web copy. Find her at YaelWrites.com.