Anyone who has seriously considered a freelance writing career, or any freelancing career for that matter, has at one time or another fantasized about the benefits of becoming a freelancer. Admit it, you know you have, and if those fantasies went like the majority of freelance wannabes, they were full of scenes of pajamas, copious free time, no boss, and of course all the free flowing creativity that would be dripping from your fingers as you type the next great American novel.
Well to be completely honest, it is like that in some respects, but probably not exactly as you fantasized. My freelance writing career thus far has been very rewarding, with some elements of the fantasy of freelancing. It just hasn’t been exactly as I expected. So, before you jump into the freelancing pool I want to let you know the real truth about freelance writer benefits.
Freelance Writers Have More Free Time
While this is technically true, I’ve found that my free time simply gets reallocated to other pursuits. In my case, this has meant the care of my daughter for the past 16 months. Now that she has started school, it simply means I spend more of my day writing.
What I’ve found (and you may find the same), is that I seem to allow myself the same amount of free time to read, watch TV, play, etc., but I have more time overall to work with. Yes, I still have the same 24 hours each day, but they aren’t being sucked away with commuting time, redundant meetings, and idle chit chat.
Another thing I’ve found is that I have more flexibility with my free time, which brings us to our next point…
You Don’t Have to Worry About a Schedule As a Freelance Writer
Actually, I do need a stinkin’ schedule. While I could certainly write whenever the mood strikes me, I have found that I am far more productive when I set a schedule for myself. Otherwise, I tend to procrastinate the day away and am forced into scheduled writing at 10pm. Certainly not an ideal scenario and definitely not the most productive way to work.
The nice part is that my schedule doesn’t have to be 9-5, plus it can change on a daily basis to accommodate my free time and lifestyle.
So, on a typical day I might schedule 3 hours to work in the morning, an hour or two in the afternoon, and another hour or two at night. If I have something to do I can easily drop part of the scheduled work day, or simply shift it around. When I want to go away for a few days I can work ahead or I can even take some of my work with me wherever I go. It may not be much fun to write while at the beach, but it sure beats not going to the beach at all!
Freelance Writers Get to Work from Anyplace They Like
Speaking of the beach, is it true that freelance writers can work from anywhere they like? Why yes Virginia they can. (I swear I wasn’t trying to make references to old movies…it’s just happening!)
I’ve done my work from the beach several times. I’ve also written in internet cafés, the airport, Starbucks, malls, on a bus, by the pool, and in a bar. I’ve written in America, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Thailand. I’ve even written on paper (gasp!) when it was just too cumbersome to take my laptop.
Even though you can work wherever you like, I’ve found that it is best to have a dedicated location. Of course, this can be in any city or country around the world so if you have a wanderlust like me, freelance writing can be a dream job.
If You Need More Money, Just Find More Clients
While this is true, it is sometimes easier said than done. There will be times when it seems like you get every job you apply for, and everyone you talk to needs a writer. Cherish these times, because they will be offset by other times when it seems as if no one wants to hire you and that writing as a profession has died.
As a Freelance Writer You Get to Write About Things You Love
I am finding that this is only true as you become more successful. When I started out I was not writing about things anyone could possibly say they love as a writer. Toothpaste, electric razors, lawsuits, plumbing, and coupon codes were my raison d’etre. Not very scintillating to research or to write about, though I will say I did learn some interesting facts.
Since I am more established I am able to be more selective, which means I do spend a good part of my time writing about things I love. It is a vast improvement and makes life much more enjoyable. If you are just getting started and finding that your days are filled with articles about medical malpractice lawsuits and where to find the latest coupon codes, don’t despair. Better days are just around the corner.
Freelance Writers Have No Boss and Can Pick and Choose Their Projects
Continuing with the theme from above, when you start out there is little likelihood you will be able to pick and choose your projects. Unless you have a big wad of cash in the bank, you are going to take whatever jobs come along, and you’ll be damn glad to have them. Once you begin to develop a client list, however, you will be able to be more selective regarding the projects you are willing to accept. Once that day comes, you will be quite happy as a freelance writer.
Regarding the idea that you won’t have a boss…well that is just false. Not only will you have a boss, you will have several. Every client you work with will be akin to your boss. Maybe it won’t be quite as suffocating as your boss at a traditional job, but the client is definitely the one calling the shots. Of course, if you do something to piss off your boss at a traditional job, you are much worse off than pissing off a single client (see If You Need More Money, Just Find More Clients). Best course of action: don’t piss anyone off.
Freelance Writers Can Take a Nap Whenever They Damn Well Please
This is so true and one of my favorite parts of the day. As a matter of fact, I took a nap in the middle of writing this post, and I feel much better for it!
So, there you have the real and true facts about freelance writing (at least from my perspective). Hopefully, what you’ve learned is that many of the things you hear about the benefits of freelance writing are true, but maybe not quite as you’ve imagined them. As with most things in life there are always exceptions and caveats. The bottom line is that freelance writing is a job much like any other job. It does have some nice perks, but if you aren’t able to self motivate and you don’t get a thrill out of a well composed essay (even about toothpaste), the life of a freelance writer may not be for you. And that’s the real truth about freelance writer benefits.