If you hear someone say “freelance writers,” it can conjure up an image of a dark, brooding soul hunkered down in a writer’s studio or basement home office, pecking away at an old typewriter, oblivious to whatever else is going on in his or her home or even the world. Alternatively, someone might assume that a job as a writer is a cover for spending every day surfing the Internet while wearing pajamas, eating ice cream, and watching soap operas.
If you are a freelance writer, however, or you know one well, you understand these scenarios don’t come with the job. Contrary to popular belief, freelance writing is a real job and it comes with many of the same trials and tribulations as any other job. Here are some ways that a career in freelance writing is similar to and different from traditional jobs.
Freelance Writers Earn Real Money
While there are many reasons to become a freelance writer, one of the main reasons for taking this job (or any job) is to make money. The fees that writers charge can run the gamut; there are writers who charge $5 for a blog post on sites like Fiverr, and there are writers who charge triple digits per hour worked. The average hourly wage of a freelance writer is a bit under $25/hour. That is comparable to the average hourly wage of Americans in general and is a great fact to point out to people who think that freelance writing is not a real job.
Freelance Writers Deal With Clients Instead of Bosses.
The freelancing life seems so carefree: After all, you can write from anywhere with an Internet connection, and you don’t have to commute or deal with your boss breathing down your neck.
While all of this is true, most writers do need to juggle clients. In some ways, it’s like having a half-dozen (or more) bosses. One client might prefer a specific style guide, one might require you to use a particular project management program, and another might ask you to have Skype meetings with them and their in-house staff on a weekly basis. While the freelance writers you know might not refer to their clients as bosses, these writers do have people telling them what to do and paying them for it, just like anyone with a job.
Freelance Writers Have a Lot of Freedom . . . But It Comes at a Price.
One aspect of the freelance life that really appeals to many people is the freedom. Do you want to take off on Tuesdays or begin your work at midnight each evening? Go for it. Can you get a hotspot on your phone and work from the beach? Absolutely! If you decide to go on a cross-country trip in an RV, can you do your work while on the road? Yes. There is no rule that you have to work from the same place or at the same time every day. If a particular client is cramping your style and insisting that an assignment be completed at a certain time each week and you don’t want to work under those restrictions, you are under no obligation to continue the arrangement long-term.
The other side of this, however, is that a freelancer sometimes needs to hustle. There is no guaranteed minimum number of billable hours, and if you fire one client (or they no longer need your services), you’ll have to do your own legwork to find another to replace that income. Also, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Yes, you can do what you want, but no one will feed you more jobs if you don’t follow through on a project or if a project ends.
As with any job, that of a freelance writer comes with its ups and downs. One thing is for certain: The job of a freelance writer is as real as the jobs of a teacher, a deli clerk, or an electrician. Ignore any naysayers and do your chosen job with pride.