Those of you reading this may have asked yourself at some point how someone could become a freelance writer and actually earn an income. Or perhaps you’re reading this because you think people like me are nuts for choosing this as a career, and you’d like to learn why someone would choose this route.
Either way, it’s a fun topic for me to write about. This is what I live everyday and I want to share with you the steps I took to become a freelance writer. Is this a career choice for everyone? Nope, not hardly. But if you’ve ever wondered if you should explore this idea further, then you’ve come to the right place.
Why become a freelance writer?
Let’s start off with discussing what makes the freelance life so wonderful. There are many, many reasons to consider a freelance career. And what is most appealing to you may be different from the next person. Here are the reasons that make this career choice so special:
- Become your own boss. This is my number one reason why I chose to become a freelance writer. I wanted to be in charge of my career path, my income, my goals, period. I dreamed of owning my own business and when I chose to become a freelance writer, I achieved my goal.
- Control your own income. Of course you won’t be able to start off making six figures right away, but you can control how much you want to write. Whether you want a side hustle or a full-time career, you have the power in your hands to change the trajectory of your growth.
- Control your own schedule. Do you need to usher your kids back and forth to school and sports? Does your spouse have a grueling work schedule you need to work around too? Freelance writing is done when you say it’s done. You can write whenever and wherever you please, as long as you meet your deadlines.
- You can work from anywhere. I’ll be honest, it’s life-changing when you realize you can literally work from wherever you choose, as long as you have your internet!
- Work with great clients. Freelance writing has given me the opportunity to work with truly fascinating people. I love getting to know industry leaders and meeting people I would never have met otherwise.
- Fire the not-so-great clients. One of the perks I realized early on is that I am in control of who I work with. If a client is too difficult or can’t pay the rates, there are tactful ways to end the relationship. And to be honest, it’s liberating.
More reasons to become a freelance writer
- Have a creative outlet. Whether you stare at spreadsheets all day or drive all over town running errands, or doing whatever life requires of you, sometimes you need a creative outlet. If you enjoy writing then you will love the creative outlet freelance writing can provide.
- Become an entrepreneur. When you’re a freelancer, you’re running your own business! It’s a total shift in your mindset, especially if you’re like me and have always worked in the corporate world. If you’ve ever dreamed of running your own show, then freelancing is a great way to get started. And trust me, when you get going with your writing, you can start exploring new ways of adding to your services and portfolio.
- Very low start-up costs. One of the best perks of becoming a writer is how little you need to get started. You need a reliable laptop and reliable internet. That’s it. It was months before I had a website, but you could certainly help yourself out and set one up in the beginning. There are very few side hustles or businesses I’m aware of that require so little to get started.
- You don’t need a fancy degree. Editors could care less where you went to school, much less if you have a creative writing degree. I happen to have a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia (go Dawgs!) but I’ve never been asked about it once. Many of the freelance writers I’ve come in contact with either don’t have a college degree, or have one completely unrelated to writing. If you enjoy writing then you can build on it. The best way to sharpen your skills is to write, write, and write a little more. Whether it’s blog posts, journaling, emails, or web copy. There are a multitude of ways for you to practice writing and improve your skills.
The truth about freelance writing
As much as I love the writer’s life, I must warn you it’s not always the easiest path to choose. It’s as important to talk about the potential pitfalls when you become a freelance writer as it is to talk about the fun stuff. Here’s a look at other points of consideration before you dive in.
- You have deadlines. When you’re a writer, you have deadlines. Typically you have at least a week or two to work them into your calendar, but whatever you do you should always stick to your deadlines.
- You’re in charge of your finances. This may sound a little funny – after all, isn’t that a perk of working on your own? But working for someone typically means an array of benefits. Health insurance. Life insurance. Taxes taken out for you. Retirement plans. The list goes on and on. These are fantastic benefits, so before you jump into full-time freelance you need to have a game plan for how you will implement this with your freelance work.
- You have to hustle. If you think writing assignments will be handed to you the moment you declare yourself a freelance writer then I’m sorry to burst your bubble and tell you it doesn’t work this way. You must build your client base. There’s a need to constantly look for new clients while taking on work. Oh, and you have to promote yourself the way nobody else can. If you don’t want to put in an effort then freelance work probably isn’t the best choice.
- Clients can be difficult. Yes, you can fire ones you don’t want to work with, but it can still be a tough process to go through when you have a difficult client. As your career progresses, you’ll begin to recognize the warning signs.
- Freelance writing is not a get-rich-quick path. When you become a freelance writer, you will have to work your tail off to build up a client base. This is a process and it takes time. You won’t start off earning the big bucks, but you do need to trust your process.
- You need your space. Some writing courses may sell you on a dream about traveling the world while you write on your laptop at an exotic beach. This is ridiculous. When you are a writer, you need to concentrate, otherwise your work may suffer. This doesn’t mean you can’t work while at a hotel or another location. I’m simply saying you need reliable internet and a place you can knock your work out.
- Writing can be lonely. Since you need to work on your own, it makes it tougher to form relationships the way you would in an office. There are several ways around this though! You have to make time with friends and family a priority and remember to “schedule” down time where you take time to connect.
- You need self-care. This one could apply to anyone, after all, we all need to care for ourselves. For me this is prioritizing prayer, reading, talking to my friends and family, and nice long walks. Yes, I should make exercise boot camp a form of self-care…..but maybe I’ll start that next week! I think this is hard for writers because we are so focused on sitting in our chairs and knocking out the writing assignments while balancing other responsibilities at home.
Before you become a freelance writer
I would encourage anyone to become a freelance writer but only if they meet the first requirement:
You have to love writing.
I know, this seems like an obvious one. But trust me, if you don’t already enjoy the art of telling a story, forming ideas and articulating them, or adding structure to your thoughts on paper, then writing probably isn’t for you.
I love writing so much that even when I’m writing an assignment on the most boring topic imaginable – I still can’t imagine doing anything else now. If you have this same passion about writing, or anything else in your life, I strongly encourage you to find a way to earn an income from it. There are so many blessings to be had when you’re in a line of work you find fulfilling.
If you’re ready to take the plunge I also highly recommend the Earn More Writing course by Holly Johnson. This is the course I took to give me the kick in the pants I needed to get started!
The choice to become a freelance writer, whether it’s on the side or your full-time bread and butter, is a big one. But I believe if you start with a love of writing then you can make it grow from there.
No matter what you end up choosing, knowing the pros and cons before you get started helps you make an informed decision. So now there’s only one question left to answer…..
Are you ready to become a freelance writer?