This morning I read a post written by Devon Ellington where she mentions her frustration about those who turn to freelance writing thinking that it's a way to stay home and make easy money. Any writer who manages to make a living – full-time or part-time- working as a freelance writer will bring you back to reality quickly on that one. Freelance writing is as hard as any other business. You can make a living, but you will need to put in lots of hard work. Here are a few details of launching a freelance writing career that many don't think about until they are knee deep in business:
You need legitimate clients that pay
I say legitimate because there are a ton of scams online promising you the good life where you only write about 10 to 20 hours a week and make enough to put four kids through college. When you are a freelancer, it's up to you to weed out the scams from legitimate writing opportunities. After a while you'll be able to smell a rat from a mile away.
It takes a lot of time to query clients and go back and forth about terms, rates, deadlines and project details before getting the go ahead to start working on a project. This is all part of the prospecting process. The number of hours you work each week may vary. Sure, you have a flexible schedule, but you still have work to get done. I work many 12 hour days and have even pulled an all-nighter or two to meet a deadline.
You need to keep writing projects coming in consistently
The only way to do this and get paid what you are worth is to market on a regular basis. Freelance writing is a feast or famine business by nature, but you can dramatically reduce your chances of struggling through periods of famine if you have a steady flow of clients and projects at all times.
Marketing consistently gets really tough when you are a solo business when trying to juggle it all. You are responsible for projects, invoicing, maintaining you own website, blog, etc., etc. Then there is the time spent networking online and in real life. I have prayed for one extra hour in the day many times to no avail.
It's up to you to manage accounting and other administrative tasks
I spend a lot of time keeping track of projects, deadlines, down payments, projects paid in full, client files, faxing and receiving signed agreements, invoicing, collections and so much more. These tasks take lots of time to do, but as a solo business owner I am the only one responsible.
When someone tells me that they've thought about starting a freelance writing business to make some quick money, I just smile, because it's pretty obvious that they don't know what's involved. It requires a more than simply a love of words and a good grasp of the English language and grammar skills. It also requires a level of creativity and commitment to helping your clients get the results they need. Can you handle working alone without direct supervision, staying on task when you'd rather take a nap and remain cool when faced with a nightmarish client? Can you deal with the ebb and flow of income? Believe me when I tell you this: The freelance writing life is not for everyone.