Being a Freelance Writer—Is It for You?

Woman at a desk working

Thinking about going freelance? Maybe you don’t want to work in an office for a company. Or you want the control that comes with choosing the projects you take on. Either way, working from home can be liberating.

That said, freelancing comes with challenges of its own. You need to find your clients, manage projects skillfully, and at times, be ready to deal with disappointment.

The flow of projects isn’t always stable. Some weeks and months you may have to work more to compensate. And, of course, you don’t get the bonuses and other perks that you get when you commit your time and energy to one client.

I’ve been a freelancer for many years now. As a writer, I find it offers me the freedom I need to work on my stories and my other projects.

Let’s discuss some of the different aspects of being a freelancer.

Earnings

There’s a lot of competition out there from professionals in developing countries. Romania is a lot cheaper than say America or Western Europe, so it’s easier for me to be a freelancer than someone living in America or Western Europe.

Another thing to bear in mind is that most freelancing platforms come with plenty of fees. UpWork, for example, will take a 20% fee for a project below $500. It will then take 10% after $500. In addition, there are VAT taxes and other costs related to bidding on projects or withdrawing funds.

You also need to factor in the cost of the time you spend marketing, interviewing and, depending on your legal status, doing your own accounting. On the plus side, all these things will require you to think proactively about your career as a freelancer.

You’ll need to keep your mind sharp and constantly consider how you present yourself and what clients you choose to work with.

Interaction with Others

You’ll be working mostly from home. Even if you frequent cafes and other such places, you need to focus on your work. The only interaction you will have with clients will be via phone or video calls.

To be a freelancer, you need to enjoy writing and the solitude that comes with it. For the most part, writing is a solitary profession, and being a freelancer can be more solitary than working for a news agency or in an office alongside bantering coworkers.

If you’re sociable and outgoing, you may find freelancing work a bit isolating. You’ll be discussing projects with clients, but a lot of the conversation will be limited to email or text-based chat.

Long Term Career Benefits

As a freelancer, your employer won’t be paying your health insurance or pension benefits. You won’t be getting a company car or other bonuses. And you won’t get promoted either.

If these sound like deal-breakers to you, freelancing is probably not for you.

Here in Romania, health insurance is relatively cheap, and I can pay it from my earnings as a freelancer. I can do without the other bonuses and benefits—my freedom to organize my time is more important for the time being.

So, Is Freelancing For You?

Yes, if you…

  • Enjoy the writing process and the knowledge and exercise in patience that it entails.
  • Need a side job while working on your novels, plays, movie scripts, art projects, etc.
  • Are an introvert and prefer working from home or in a familiar environment where there are few external stimuli.
  • Don’t want to end up working for a boss. As a freelancer, you work for other people, but the relationship is a bit different—people will treat you as a service provider, not as an employee they can order about.
  • Are transitioning between jobs or careers and need a side income.

Final Thoughts

Freelancing is flexible and gives you control over your schedule. On the downside, you have to juggle some uncertainties and be willing to sacrifice some of your earnings for the freedom that you gain.  

Even if you end up preferring the stability and constancy that come with being employed, you can still try freelancing for a time to see how it plays out for you.

You can try it while you work another job or study. You can discover plenty of projects on websites like UpWork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.

You can draw on your experience and passions to write on topics that interest you even if you don’t have long-term writing ambitions.

In the end, I recommend that you freelance alongside your current job or study to get a feel for it and understand whether it’s right. Then, if all goes well, you can transition to being a fulltime freelance writer.

9 thoughts on “Being a Freelance Writer—Is It for You?

  1. What a timely post! I was thinking about it myself. I am based in America so it might be tough for me. I have done some research and found that most Freelance Projects offer very little money. However, I like the flexibility part and the thought that I can work on my own books. But isolation part is a little hard. I need to find a balance to all this. Thanks for the post!

    1. There are well paid freelance jobs too, Shivangi. The start may be a bit tough these days, but if you do a good job and focus on working with quality clients you can earn well.

  2. I have an urgent need to start freelancing as that is my only option now. I just don’t know where to start! You mention some excellent points in favour of freelancing. It certainly is harder to get on the ladder where I am in the UK (the market is saturated) but I am sure I will get there.

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