So you want to be a freelance writer

Please welcome Samar Owais, a professional writer and social media enthusiast. Samar brings a fresh perspective to freelancing and inspires action in her readers. You can see why I connected with her! I encourage you to visit her site and get pumped about your writing life!

So you want to be a freelance writer…

…do you have what it takes?

Freelance writing might seem like the perfect profession to be in but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, you may love writing, and the idea of making money doing what you love is too good to pass. But before you jump headfirst into full time freelancing, find out if you have what it takes by thinking about the following aspects.

writing about mundane topics

When I started out as a freelance writer, I took any writing job that came my way. With my first writing gig, the pay was low, the deadlines demanding and the topic: Drainage pipes. By the end of the second week, I was dreaming about pipes. Can you write about topics that don’t hold your interest in order to kick start your freelance writing business? I wrote for that client for 2 months. Imagine writing about drainage pipes every day.

meeting deadlines

Missing a deadline is a cardinal sin in freelancing. Granted, certain circumstances are unavoidable. But that should be the exception – not the norm. If you can meet deadlines (every time), you’ll be ahead of 80% of the freelancers out there. If you can’t, you’ll be losing clients left, right and centre.

handling rejection

Freelancing isn’t for the tender hearted. If you find it difficult to handle rejection, criticism or edits and rewrites of your work, then you have some serious thinking to do. In the beginning, for every client I gained, I also had at least 20 rejections. If you can take rejection as a challenge to only do better and not give up, then welcome to the profession!

marketing yourself

One of the biggest considerations when deciding to freelance is your ability to market yourself. The day when you get 90% of your work via referrals is 5 years down the line. Right now, you have to go out (figuratively) and find work for yourself. You need to be proactive about getting work or else you’re going to fail. Get your name out there, call publications and companies to ask if they hire freelancers, network like crazy, be everywhere. Not being able to effectively market themselves is the number 1 reason freelancers face famine. Even when you’re at your busiest, never stop marketing.

knowing your rights

We would like to believe that everyone is honest and pays on time. Yet, before long you’ll run into a client who will either delay payment or not pay at all. If such a scenario fills you with despair, it’s time to chalk out a freelancing policy before you actually start freelancing and then implement it from day one. A simple contract can take care of it. Just make sure the client’s policies of payment, copyright etc don’t clash with yours. If you can’t negotiate a contract, your rates or go after an unpaid invoice like a rabid dog (okay maybe not rabid. Think hound.) then you’re going to have a lot of trouble freelancing.

running a business

One thing new freelance writers fail to take into account is that freelancing is a business and writing is just one part of it.
On top of being a freelance writer, you’re also:

  • An accountant, salesman, and marketer.
  • The who handles all the IT, PR and HR issues.
  • Your own customer service centre and the one responsible for any client problems.

These tasks can take up a big portion of your workday and eat up your writing time. Some days I don’t write anything at all because I’m taking care of the business end of things. Can you successfully juggle deadlines with all the additional responsibilities that come with running your freelance writing business?

surviving the feast and famine cycle

Freelancers typically yo-yo between times when they have so much work they have to turn away clients and times when they wonder where their next check is going to come from. No matter how good a writer you are, if you can’t handle the uncertainty and the stress that comes with it, you’re going to have a tough time making it as a freelancer.

to freelance or not to freelance

No freelancer has all these characteristics. They exel at some and suck at others. They just learn to balance it well. But if you thought you would hate doing any 4 (or more) of the above points, you probably will have a hard time freelancing.

It’s not all bad news though. Most freelancers jump in without realizing what freelance writing actually entails. Yet, they learn, adapt, and go on to become successful.

If you’re thinking of freelancing, there’s no better way to find out than jumping right in. Just make sure you have a day job too!

about Samar Owais

Samar Owais is a freelance writer and blogger. She offers rock solid tips for freelancing success at The Writing Base along with a free 58-Page  Guide to Turning Prospects into Clients.