Want to Become a Freelance Writer? Prepare to Be Challenged…
Writing may be one of your greatest passions, but it can be difficult to actually earn serious money from it. But as philosopher Alan Watts advises us, if you pursue a passion without money as an end goal, you can write or paint or dance purely because you enjoy doing so. And after years of dedication and practice, you will become highly skilled.
If you want to become a freelance writer, then start by writing for yourself. Create a blog and write whatever you feel like writing about: travel, philosophy, science, book reviews – whatever it may be. You’ll make mistakes, get negative feedback and think that you’ll never get better – but with persistence and time, you will improve.
The next challenge is finding an employer who’s willing to pay you for the way that you string sentences together. Here are some obstacles you’re likely to face as a budding freelance writer.
One major pitfall of being a writer (or trying to establish yourself as a writer) is self-doubt. And it can be crippling. You may feel embarrassed about sharing articles. You may have nagging thoughts such as I’m too ignorant to write about this. This isn’t worth reading. And so on…
Self-doubt is self-defeating. It gives you less confidence in your writing skills and often hinders your motivation. As you try to adapt to different writing styles and tones of voices, initial articles may be rejected or met with more criticism than praise. It’s easy to let this kind of feedback create doubt about your potential. But it’s totally necessary to work with criticism.
By accepting the weak spots in your writing and seeking to constantly improve, know that you can improve. Overcoming this self-doubt is also part of the challenge in becoming a better writer.
Low pay, at least to begin with…
With creative professions that involve doing something you genuinely enjoy, there are often trade-offs. One of these is pay. When starting out as a freelance writer, it’s common to be paid below the minimum wage.
Writing gigs on sites like Upwork can involve extremely low pay, sometimes next to nothing. This is because there will always be freelancers in other countries who are willing to work for less pay than you. There are sites that offer much higher paying gigs, such as Contently and ClearVoice, but you’ll need more experience. Pay also varies greatly depending on the company you write for.
Even if you earn below minimum wage, it still may seem much more worthwhile than doing something you don’t care about. There’s also something appealing to the challenge of starting on a low salary and working your way up. It can be slow progress, but it’s exciting and rewarding at the same time as well.
The fact is, many people do earn a decent income from freelance writing. It just takes a lot of hard work, time, effort, persistence, rejection – as well as a certain amount of luck – to get to that point. However, there are also loads of awesome cities where you can live on relatively low incomes. And you never know – being a digital nomad on top of being a freelancer can be extremely rewarding.
It’s all on you
There’s no doubt that the freedom and flexibility associated with freelancing is attractive. It’s one of its main draws. You’re not tied to a 9-5 work schedule; there’s no office, no manager and no fixed holiday allowance. Sounds pretty ideal, right?
But the freedom associated with freelancing also entails a lot of responsibility. Since there are no set working hours, you have to discipline yourself to start work early. Since there’s no office, you have to avoid the temptation of working at home, where your bed and fridge constantly beg for your attention. Since there’s no manager and you’re your own boss, you need to create your own tasks and make sure that they get done. And while there’s no fixed amount of holiday, you may not even be able to afford to take that much time off.
None of these hurdles should put you off, though. If writing is something you love to do, then there are all kinds of professional avenues you could eventually take with this skill. Better yet, the inherent creativity that’s associated with writing means it’s a skill that’s unlikely to be automated in the future.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.