The Risks and Rewards of Freelance Writing

As with any profession, freelance writing has its pros and cons. Before you quit your job to become a freelance writer, you need to understand what it’s like to be one.

It’s three years since I became a full-time freelance writer. I dabbled with freelance writing assignments for about two years before I quit my job.

I have no doubt in my mind that in freelancing writing I finally found what I was meant to be doing. I love working for me, and I am a happier person now than when I was as a banker earning the fat monthly cheque. Yet, I would be lying if I said all was hunky-dory. I do at times miss the comfort and security that come with holding a steady job.

Remember those times when you fell in love but were not sure whether the person was right for you or not, and you made a list of positives and negatives, to help you make a decision on the relationship? Well, that’s what I have done with my “love, but not so sure” relationship with freelance writing.

I hope the analysis will help you make a better decision about your pending decision to turn freelancer.

THE PROS OF BEING A FREELANCER

As a content writer bidding for jobs, it’s exciting to get a new contract, work with international clients, write for different businesses, earn in dollars while working from home, and to see your writing help businesses achieve their goals.

I no longer have to contend with long commutes to work, attend business meetings that seem never ending, or go through the dreaded annual appraisal. And oh did I mention the office politics?  That seemingly harmless colleague who is secretly harbouring a ‘pull you down’ agenda, well, there’s certainly none of that. I choose whom I want to work with and how much work I want to take on.

Enterprise mobility may still be a nascent initiative in many companies, but  I already enjoy that as a freelance writer. All I need is a computer and an internet connection. Web-based applications such as Writebox and Dropbox give me access to my work files from any computer. I can work from anywhere and anytime, which really suits me as a young mother and an Army wife. All this while having minimum overhead expenses.

Freelancing is exciting. There is always something to do or learn. When I am not working, I am busy looking for new work and catching up with old clients. I am always learning new ways to improve as a writer and online marketer. I now have a much better grasp of various facets of business,  especially when it comes to product development, branding, and social media management.

Doing my own thing gives a satisfaction that no 9 to 5 job can match. Come to think of it I always had a hard time truly agreeing with the approach the boss would take; I’d much rather do things my way. Wouldn’t you?

THE CONS OF BEING A FREELANCER

When you choose to become a freelancer on the World Wide Web, you take on the challenge of competing on a global stage. You compete with freelance writers from North America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe. The bidding war revolves around each writer’s skills, experience, price and proposed delivery date.

With the thrill of being a business owner, comes added responsibility. You are the strategist, salesperson, marketer, social media specialist, customer service, and operations specialist. You have to know it all and do it all.

You are continually seeking new clients and trying to bring in more work from existing clients. You are lucky if your sales pitch conversion rate is more than eight to ten percent of customers.

Saturday and Sunday are no longer sanctimonious as days where you can take off. There are days of no work, followed by days where there is more work than you can So you work when you have to, which may include weekends. Yes, there is greater flexibility for fulfilling personal commitments, but time is as scarce as ever. As a freelance writer, you are multitasking for most of your work day and time just flies. You need to cross-check your planner continuously for delivery schedules, making sure you stay on track.

Quitting the comfort of a well-paying job to start your venture is fraught with uncertainties. As a freelance writer, if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning.

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So should you jump on the freelancing bandwagon? Having weighed the pros and cons of life as a freelancer, this is a question that only you can answer. Although you will receive well-meaning advice from family and friends, it has to be ultimately your call. If you can cope with the ‘uncertainty’ of how much you will earn by when (especially in the initial phase), then freelance writing offers you an exciting opportunity to be the captain of your ship. But, if you aren’t motivated enough to stay focused and work all by yourself, then you will find the going rough in the turbulent world of freelance writing.

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