Why it’s So F*ing Hard to Be a Freelance Writer
With all the useful tips on how to be a freelance writer I’ve posted on this blog, you’d think I could sign off and be done. I just checked, and there are nearly 500 posts on here!
Yet, each week I hear from writers with new questions. Why?
It’s not easy becoming a freelance writer.
Writers are always asking me:
What is the one best, cheapest, low-cost, fastest way for me to market my writing and find great pay?
But there isn’t one single, simple answer to that.
What we’re trying to do isn’t easy — to find a place for ourselves in a rapidly evolving freelance marketplace.
The challenges of freelancing
Here are some of the common obstacles freelance writers encounter:
- Your friends and family may not understand or support your decision to freelance.
- The marketplace is diverse, highly fragmented, and confusing.
- There are many different possible starting points.
- Successful marketing usually requires a lot of experimentation. What works for one writer may not work for you.
- Rates are all over the place, so it’s hard to know what to charge.
- There are many types of potential business clients, and types of publications, too.
- You have to face rejection.
- It can feel scary, and you’ll have to confront those fears to move forward.
- You need confidence.
- You need to be enterprising and know how to find information, from credible experts to editors’ email addresses.
- If you write for long, you will make mistakes, it will be embarrassing, and you’ll have to suck it up and carry on.
- Not everyone will like what you write, and you’ll have to face criticism.
- A lot of the more ‘fun’ types of writing — poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, personal essays — generally don’t pay well.
- Some editors will butcher your work.
- You may need specialized training for higher-paying writing niches such as direct mail copywriting or technical writing.
- It’s highly competitive to get in at the great-paying magazines, or to land the lucrative copywriting gigs.
- Some clients are flaky and end up stiffing you.
- Some clients are boundary-pushers and want to suck up all your time.
- You’ll need to find a way to differentiate your writing services and stand out from the crowd.
- There are a lot of scam writing “offers” on the Internet you could fall for.
- Plenty of writing markets that pay little or nothing. It’s up to you to find the better-paying markets.
- The drive to succeed has to come from you. There’s no boss looking over your shoulder.
- You need to learn how to negotiate, how to manage your costs…in short, how to run a business.
- Whenever you think you have the hang of it, changes come and you have to learn more skills.
There is one advantage to the complex world of freelancing — if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
So that cuts the herd a bit for those of us who have the cunning, the tenacity, and the gumption to make freelance writing our living.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a freelance writer? Add your reason to the comments.