Perhaps in the future it will turn out I am one of the people fortunate enough to make freelance writing my career. But if I am, I won’t be for a long, long time. Freelance writing, like any other career, is all about climbing the ladder. Unlike other careers, though, freelance writing is a job where you have no one to turn to and ask for help at any point during a project. You are completely on your own. And I think that there are major factors playing into why a lot of people don’t even consider freelance writing for additional income.
But maybe freelance writing still sounds cool and you’re thinking, “So I’m completely on my own. Perfect!” Don’t forget, even if you have the type of personality that is perfected suited to working alone and from home, there are other reasons freelance writing is particularly tough for new people:
- If you’re new, you have no idea where to start. How many ads have you seen for freelance writing positions – and how many of them are legit? Scam writing gigs are easy to make and common on the Internet, so finding websites that will actually pay you, rather than steal your money, can be pretty intimidating. In fact, while I meant to begin writing two months ago, I didn’t simply because I wanted to spend extra time researching websites and developing a strategy, because…
- …when freelance writing is completely unexplored territory, it's intimidating enough to keep people from even trying. You start to wonder: how much do you charge per article? How does this website versus this website generally work? How do I write a good pitch when I need to? How can I ensure that something I spent time writing isn't rejected later? They’re all important questions, and they’re a big reason I spent so long researching freelance writing and websites before I got started. I especially wanted to be prepare because…
- …new writers are always at the bottom of the totem pole. Without a solid base of repeat clients, you have to rely entirely on the offers on websites. While some don’t require pitches, the ones that do put you in a situation where you’re competing with other writers for one assignment. Plus, this blogger noted that, “The reality is that 1% of freelance writers make 99% of the income that comes from freelance writing.” Naturally, more experienced people who have made this a career have a huge advantage over the “entry level” freelancer. It’s the same as any office setting – but since it’s the Internet, your office has become the world. (That’s a scary thought…) But at least after some research, I knew which sites were better suited for me as a newbie freelancer, and where I could go in the future.
My final note on this topic: I think new writers especially deal with a “chicken and the egg” scenario where they need time to write to try to make money, but they also need to spend time working elsewhere because they’re not making a lot of money writing. It’s definitely a tricky balance – and that’s exactly why, since I’m starting out, I have no intentions of making freelance writing a career. It’s a great form of extra income and a fantastic way to flex my writing muscles (I've dealt with everything from book outlines to aud, but at the end of the day, I won’t be ending my job hunt as a result of my writing projects.
Fellow freelance writers, just remember: spending time and energy on freelancing is challenging for anyone in the field, so it makes sense that new writers would have extra trouble dealing with this challenge. Keep trying; think of your first projects as practice rounds, if it helps. You’ll improve – I sure have!
Have any of my readers given freelancing a shot? What websites have you used? What do you find most challenging?