I've had more than a couple of casual acquaintances telling me I have it made. They think being a freelance writer is all about sleeping in, lounging around, daily errands and lunches out and about with friends. As we say in the South, it ain't like that over here, folks.
I regularly work 12 hour days, half of which are actually spent writing because of marketing and other administrative tasks that must get done. So excuse me when I get a little miffed when someone finds out what I do for a living and casually says, "Huh, maybe I'll try freelancing too while I look for something else." Way to get under my skin!
Bad economy = more freelancers?
I recently read this article which states that the struggling economy will result in more people seeking "gigs" – a "bunch of free floating projects" to make ends meet. What folks don't realize is that the "gig life" isn't for everybody. It takes a lot of self-motivation, discipline and organization and hard work to become a successful freelance writer.
Oh, and of course it requires the ability to write – producing quality, content that is engaging, informative, persuasive or triggers an emotional response in the reader. Understanding the elementary principles of composition and organizing information onto a page, or web page, clearly to present a polished, final draft again and again.
And writing is only a part of what you'll do from day to day. You'll also need to drum up the repeat business necessary to pay the bills. That could be how you spend 80 percent of your time when you're first getting started. Once you build up your clientele, you'll need to maintain a consistent marketing campaign to avoid the dreaded dry spells. Some people can't handle that kind of financial uncertainty.
Can you handle it?
Health insurance, eating and having a roof over your head – it's all on you. That's too much pressure for some. They prefer more security, though I'd argue whether or not such a thing even exists anymore even in the corporate world.
I know that more people will consider freelance writing as a way to make a living during these hard times. I honestly have no problems with it. For some it will be the push they needed to do what they were meant to. Others will be mortified by the solitude and energy required to run a business. All I want is for people to recognize that freelance writing requires reliability, ethics, an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to write. If you're committed to put in the work, you can do it. Just don't underestimate what it takes.