Top Five Myths About Freelance Writers Debunked

The oft repeated response I get when I tell someone what I do for a living usually goes like : "Oh you're a freelance writer! That must be a dream come true, isn't it?". Well, the answer is yes and no. While writing has always been a hobby and I feel great about being able to pursue a career that I love, freelance writing as a profession is not always a cakewalk. Try telling people that you 'work from home' and they will immediately conjure up images of you typing away at your laptop in your PJ's with your favorite soap running on the side or worse, scribbling on flying sheets of paper past midnight in a trance like state with a candle to give you company. Many writers have done it before and I too, cannot stop myself from passing on my two cents to those who think that freelance writing is a have-fun-and-earn-money career.


Myth 1 : Working from home must be so convenient

Upto an extent, yes but it is still a full time job. Freelance writers have to put in as much time and effort into their work as a regular nine-to-fiver. We certainly save on commuting time but the rest of our day is pretty much the same. We cannot juggle writing assignments with cooking, nappy changing or other household chores. These have to be taken care of before/after work hours. 'Work from home' essentially means that we have a office within the premises of our residence and we DO NOT wake up at noon and slop around the house all day! A home-based business is still a business and it has to be dealt with like one.

Myth 2: Writers have a lot of freedom

Sure we do. We have the freedom to take up as much or as little work as we want. We can do one tiny assignment in a month and spend the rest of the time lazing around in a hammock with a fruit punch....and go hungry the next. With freedom comes a lot of responsibility and the need for self-discipline. You don't work, you don't earn - it's as straight as that. Moreover, since we don't have steady paychecks coming in at regular intervals, we have no choice but to slog our asses off to meet household expenses, bills and investments. We also need to have a larger cushion of savings because we are not going to get pensions and rainy days are not too hard to come by.

Myth 3: It is great that you are using your talent to rake in the moolah /making a career out of your hobby

Once we take up writing as a profession, it has little to do with talent or hobbies. You can either treat writing as a career OR as a hobby - never as both. Professional writing involves several peripheral issues like networking, marketing and promoting your work, building up a portfolio, managing accounts and invoices, filing away the paperwork and sniffing around for work that demand more attention that the actual writing itself. These tasks may not be all that enjoyable but they have to be done nevertheless. So you see, its not all fun and games. Plus, when we take on an assignment, we don't get to write stuff we like. Rather, we customize our writing based on the client's needs. That's when it becomes more of a professional skill than a natural, inborn talent (though I admit that the latter lends itself to the former).

Myth 4: You must have a lot of free time

No we don't. We are full time working professionals and we're here to earn a living and not just some extra pocket money. We are not available to babysit your kids or accompany you to the market because we have clients and work to tend to. We need to spend time outside of work hours to scout for new gigs , keep track of incoming and outgoing correspondence,draft and maintain agreement letters/invoices, publicize and promote our services and if we still have time left, practice our skills.

Myth 5: It must be easy!

No it isn't. Writing is easy only as long as you are writing a personal diary. Any other kind of writing (commercial) requires a fair amount of research and skill. As I said earlier, we write what our clients would like us to write - it may not always be stuff that we like or even know about. Every single article needs to be thoroughly researched and fact-checked before it can go up for publication. The tone, style, language and content has to be tailored to suit the tastes of the target audience or in the case of web-writing, it has to be sprinkled with relevant keywords for better search engine results. There's no one to teach us these skills - we have to imbibe them as we go along. And by the way, we also come across an occasional client who refuses to pay for the services after completion of the project. Go figure a way around that one!

6 comments:

  1. just a simple question ,how much can you earn /month?

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  2. Depends on how hard you are willing to work and how you go about presenting yourself. My income has ranged from 5k-50k a month.

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  3. The income you earn as a freelance writer- is it taxable?

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  4. fantastic article Shuchi ! very crisp, and drives home the point - "you can treat writing as a hobby OR a career" but not both. !

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  5. are there 5 more myths , or am I missing something here? I can only see 5, but the title says top 10 myths !

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  6. Brilliant article! Thoughts have been put forward very well!

    ReplyDelete

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