freelance writing

5 Reasons Why Freelance Writing is Not For You

By June

Freelance writing sounds like the ideal job doesn’t it? You don’t have a stuffy boss telling you what to do. No more getting stuck in traffic or crushed on the train like sardines as you commute to and from work. You can wake up when you want. Write when you like.

You’re as free as a bird. That’s the life. Or is it?

Before you give up your day job, be sure that a freelance writing career is right for you. It’s not for everyone. To succeed in this game you must have the right mind-set, attitude and other skills not related to writing.

At Writers in Charge we want to help you succeed as a freelance writer. But we don’t want you to start a career that will make you pull your hair out in frustration.

If you fit into all or most of the categories listed below you should think twice about becoming a freelance writer. But if you’re determined to choose this path, you’ll have to work extra hard at changing your characteristics. I’ve added some steps to take to help you get over the obstacles.

#1.  You’re not self-motivated

Freelance writing is a business. It’s your business. And you have to treat it like a business. If you can’t motivate yourself to plan your day productively, market your business and look for writing gigs you’ll struggle.

You might be one of those people who need encouragement from others. If you don’t have anyone telling you what to do it’s difficult to motivate yourself. The truth is, if you don’t push yourself you won’t be able to cope as a freelancer. You will reap only what you sow into your freelance writing business.

How to motivate yourself:

  • Plan your tomorrow tonight. Before you go to bed write a list of what you want to achieve. Use positive words in the present tense. For example, ‘I will email 5 query letters today and treat myself for achieving that goal.’
  • Write something fun and light-hearted every day for maybe five to ten minutes. Flex those creative writing muscles and get into a routine of writing regularly.
  • Write down a list of positive affirmations. When you get up in the mornings look at yourself in the mirror and speak those words to yourself. Two examples are, “I am an excellent writer and today my writing will shine. Writing opportunities are all around me and I will find them today.”

#2.  You don’t enjoy working alone

Freelance writing is a lonely job. Your only company is you and your computer. If you enjoy being surrounded by people, this is definitely the wrong career for you.

When I quit my teaching job to become a freelance copywriter it was exciting. But after a few weeks I missed my colleagues in the staffroom. I missed going to lunch with them, having a laugh, working with the students and just being in a lively and busy environment.

One morning as I sat in front of my computer at home, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. This is it! I’m going solo from now on. I must admit, I felt sad. But I couldn’t stay stuck in that moment. It was my choice to give up my job. So, I have to get on with it and learn to enjoy working alone.

How to combat loneliness:

  • You don’t have to work at home every day. Sometimes you could take your laptop to the local coffee shop and work from there. Or if it’s hot and sunny find a bench in the park. You’ll be surrounded by nature, lots of people walking around and maybe a lovely pond or lake nearby.
  • Go the library. Although it’s quiet, you’ll be mixing with people and possibly other writers.
  • Attend networking events and make new friends. You’ll have someone to contact when you need to brainstorm ideas. And support each other by giving constructive feedback on your writing.

#3.   You’re shy and don’t know how to sell yourself

A major part of freelance writing is marketing. You have to sell yourself. How do you do that? By making cold calls, sending direct mail, query letters and promoting yourself like crazy on social networking sites. If you’re shy and don’t know how to put yourself out there you’ll have problems getting clients.

The competition between freelance writers is fierce. It’s not for the shy, easily offended types. You have to put on a thick skin, pick up your batons and fight your way through. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you need to have a fighting spirit to make it.

How to sell yourself:

#4.   You haven’t got patience

Is patience a word that  makes you want to run and scream? Are you one of those people who hate standing in queues for long periods? If you answered yes, freelance writing will surely test your patience.

As a freelance writer you’ll get days or weeks when you’re playing the waiting game. You might have to wait for replies to queries you sent, or for payment from clients for work submitted. You also need patience for those unproductive days when your creative juices dry up.

How to develop patience

  • One of the best and easiest ways of learning patience is by reading. Have you noticed how impatient people don’t enjoy reading? It takes patience to read a book from cover to cover.
  • This might sound weird but try getting lost in your car on purpose. Two things will happen. You’ll either end up with road rage or discover how to be patient as you figure out how to find your way home. If you don’t drive, take a bus or walk to an unknown area and do the the same.
  • “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales

#5.   You’re not good at managing your finances

When you work for an employer, you’re guaranteed to get paid at the end of each week or month. But it’s different with freelance writing. You’ll have periods of abundance and periods of lack. Not only that, but you have to pay tax and insurance from your earnings.

In the beginning you might have to change your lifestyle and live a frugal one. ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’ That means don’t waste money, learn how to manage it.

How to take care of your money:

  • Save for a rainy day. Put money aside for when times are slow and clients are not coming as fast as you’d like. Know how to budget.
  • Depending on the country you live in, the tax man will need paying. Open a separate bank account and put money in for your tax and insurance contributions.
  • Take a short course in bookkeeping. Or learn how to use Sage online to help you keep your accounts in order.

In addition, freelance writing requires dedication, good time management, effective planning, confidence and more. But if you’re determined to give it a go and work on the points I mentioned, you should do well. The power to fail or succeed as a freelance writer is in your hands. 

Freelance writing is not easy but it’s rewarding. What challenges did you overcome on your journey in this field? Please share in the comments box below.

June Whittle is a team member, a freelance writer, ghostwriter, copywriter and blogger. She’s passionate about sharing knowledge and inspiring others. To find out more about her check out her main blog

28 replies on “5 Reasons Why Freelance Writing is Not For You”

Samuel Chibuikesays:

This was an awesome post. If not anything else, I learned one thing — I must be self-motivated if I want to excel as a freelance writer.

June Whittlesays:

That’s right Samuel and self motivation isn’t easy. But if you don’t motivate yourself your freelance writing business won’t get very far.

I hope this quote will motivate you. “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thanks for your comments. 🙂

Samuel Chibuikesays:

Sure, JUNE. You’re right on point 🙂

hi June

To me, motivation is a “do or die” scenario… I tried positive affirmations, and everything else in between, nothing worked as the method I stumbled upon…

One of my babies went through a major heart surgery this year… so I was motivated to raise the money and work like never before… I used to write 50 (short) articles a day… with my son’s issue, the challenge took that next level… I amazed myself by re-writing a hundred articles in a day, while juggling with emails and other personal matters.

You won’t believe how powerful the context can be; it takes your skill and limit next level in a split second… if you allow it!

Most people aren’t faced with (major) personal issues or disasters, so they have to put themselves into an “imaginary” context, and get the most out of their skill and limit…

Let your mind explore the possibilities… exercise your brain… it’s not easy, but it helps and it’s fun!

Does it make sense?

June Whittlesays:

Hi John,

I hope your baby is recovering OK. I see what you mean by motivation being a life or death situation. It’s very inspiring knowing that your passion to help your baby pushed you so hard. Well done! 🙂

It’s amazing how much you can achieve if you put your heart and soul into it. You did exceptionally well and we can all learn a ‘motivational’ lesson from you.

The mind is a powerful weapon. What it conceives, it can certainly achieve!

Thanks for your comments.

I have to disagree on the whole loneliness thing. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t hire a desk in a coworking space and have the best of both worlds – see the same faces every day, talk to people regularly, make friends, and enjoy all the other perks of ‘going to work’ (getting dressed every day…) while still enjoying your freedom and getting to choose to stay at home occasionally. And as an added bonus, as soon as you arrive at the office your mind will switch to work mode, rather than ”maybe I’ll just make another coffee and read the paper before I start mode,” and you’ll find yourself a lot more productive. AND you’ll have set working hours and so remember how to relax at home.

June Whittlesays:

Karen that’s a great tip for overcoming loneliness. Being in that setting is a brilliant way to get your writing done. It will certainly put you in the right frame of mind.

A lot of writers do have a problem with the loneliness issue though. I’ve gotten used to that now. It’s been 4 months since I left my job, so I’m used to my own company in a working context.

I’m planning to go to the library to write from next week. Not because of loneliness so much, but because I need to focus from distractions in my house. I’ve got a 3 month old grandson. He’s gorgeous but he’s also a massive distraction. 🙂

I have a question. If you want to succeed as a freelance content writer and want to write for websites. Is there any technical expertise required especially for online writing?

Also if you have a blog such as mine which is about philosophical stuff. How do you promote it?

June Whittlesays:

Hi Devika,

Good writing skills and dedication are two things that will help you succeed as a content writer. Plus you need to constantly develop your writing skills. I would also recommend that you download Oni’s free eBook “The Writer’s Handbook: How to Write for Traffic and Money“ It’s got some fantastic tips that will help you on your journey as a freelance writer.

Have you subscribed to this blog? If not you should consider doing so. Oni has been sending emails to his subscribers on everything you need to know about blogs including how to promote it. You won’t find this information anywhere else. It will help you take your blog to another level and earn money in the process.

I would also recommend Carol Tice’s blog ‘Make a Living Writing’ for some extremely useful resources.

One more thing, if you’re thinking of using your blog to attract clients, think about getting your own domain name.

I hope I was able to answer your questions.

I do like the ideas you provide with regards to finding places to connect with others as being a freelancer can be a lonely business. At the moment, I still have a job where I get to mix and gossip with friends.

I would definitley miss this if I was a full time freelancer so it is good to know what options are out there.

Thanks June

June Whittlesays:

You’re welcome Victoria. It’s best to hang on to your job until you’re 100% sure that you’re ready to venture into the freelance writing field. It’s not an easy one! Enjoyable but hard work.

It’s good to know your options so that you can plan accordingly. 🙂

Francesca Nicasiosays:

Couldn’t agree more. The flexibility and mobility brought about by freelance writing is great and all, but it takes a lot of discipline and motivation to make it.

Your third point was one of the things that I struggled with when I was starting out. I’m an introvert and I’m NOT a sales person, but I soon discovered that I needed to get over those hangups if I wanted to succeed.

Fortunately, with research and practice I learned how to market myself and effectively put myself out there.

June Whittlesays:

Thanks Francesca for sharing how you mastered your weaknesses. I’m also an introvert. The first times I tried cold calling I felt awkward. I even tried practising with my daughter, that didn’t help. I felt so silly. 🙂 But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I’m planning to take a short marketing course at a local college. I know that will help a great deal. Also, I’ll probably make new friends, which is always good for networking.

Great post, June.

I meet so many people who tell me they got laid off, so they thought they might try freelance writing…and could I tell them how to make some money “on the hurry-up”?

Freelancing is one of the worst ways to try to earn money quickly, as you point out.

And cash-flow management is a skill so many freelancers need to work on! Writers always tell me they’re too shy to call about overdue bills…and 6 months later they’re still waiting for a check.

June Whittlesays:

Thanks Carol. You’re so right about freelance writing not being a quick money making thing. Without patience, hard work and good planning it will take longer to earn decent money.

When bills are due to be paid, you have to get over shyness and find a way to get the money you’ve earned. I’m a shy person but I can’t allow that to make me starve. 🙂

Really good and Impressive post but can you suggest me some appropriate ideas to make HQ writing for blog..I wanna make strong my technical skill for writing a blog..

June Whittlesays:

Deepak I can’t give you the information you need in this comment box. I would like to suggest that you subscribe to this blog to get Oni’s posts on everything you need to start a successful blog and maintain it. He shares some fantastic tips with his subscribers. 🙂

He’s also written an article titled ‘How to Start a Blog: The Basic Step-by-Step Guide’. Maybe that will help you.

I loved the way you portrayed the qualities needed to be a freelancer.
Though I don’t have all of them but still aspire to do freelancing & earn online.

June Whittlesays:

Thanks Manish. Lots of writers have successful freelance careers. But that’s because they put in the work necessary to achieve their goals. You can do the same with lots of determination, dedication and treating it like a business.

Good luck with your endeavours. 🙂

Moses Mutugisays:

perfect and timely post. Its one of the best I have received so far as a beginner in writing. Being the kind that get bored easily when things don’t pay off, I have learned to be self motivated and patient.
I have no blog yet, but I guess I must have one to sell.
Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

June Whittlesays:

Moses it’s good that you’re developing the skills needed to succeed as a freelance writer. Self motivation is a must and so is patience if you want to achieve and earn money from your writing.

I’m glad that this post helped you towards your plans as a blogger for the future. Good luck. 🙂

Thanks for your comments!

Samuel Chibuikesays:

This post has kept me addicted to this site. I read it once… and it’s not enough, I come again and read a second time … it’s still not enough. I come today and I’m still reading it. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece June

June Whittlesays:

Samuel, thank you so much for your lovely feedback! It’s great to know that you found this post interesting and helpful. I appreciate you sharing that with me.
Have a great evening. 🙂

Hi June, welcome to the freelance jungle! I loved all of your tips- June marked 1 year anniversary of my entrepreneurial decision. I have definitely learned a few things, including having a sense of humor:)


June Whittlesays:

Welcome to you too Clara and congratulations on your 1st year anniversary. A sense of humour is definitely needed in the freelance writing business. You can’t take yourself or others too seriously. Keep smiling and thanks for your comments. 🙂

In other words, freelance writing is hard work. Yeah, I knew that already! 🙂

Really a fruity post June!

I am a non-native freelance writer from Bangladesh. I kicked off my job only because I love writing. I am now independent, solvent, and yes a free bird!
I really felt this piece of great writing and learned some special points that I badly needed to swallow.
I would expect you to write more only for those who quit their jobs to earn their bread through writing.

Thanks and have a great time 🙂

Stephen Briansays:

You are right bro. Freelance writing is not for everyone. I tried to be the same in my early life but the competition was growing rapidly, so I moved on. Still I believe this is great for them who has already built some reputation out there and have a number of good customers.

Comments are closed.