7 Myths of Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing Myth and Reality
Freelance Writing Myth and Reality.

I’ve been doing this for a decade now, and most of my close family and friends still aren’t exactly sure what I do. There are a lot of myths and misperceptions out there when it comes to the freelance writing career, and I’m happy to dispel some of the rumors. Here are seven myths about the freelance writing career.

You Can Make Your Own Schedule

I’ve often found that when a friend calls or a fellow PTA mom asks me to watch her kids in the early afternoon, the understanding is that I can do whatever I want when I want to, and these types of mini-interruptions won't upset my balance.

Ok, that’s half true.

I can generally massage my schedule, but know this: when I’m on the beach on a summer Friday at 1:00 p.m., it probably means I buckled down and worked double the week before. Or, that I’ll be working on Saturday to make up for it. There is one exception, though: deadlines are deadlines. If my deadline is at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday, I need to finish on Friday before, or I’ll be working the weekend. So, yeah, I guess to a point I make my own schedule, but this little fantasy only occurs at the mercy and whims of my clients and projects.

You Don’t Have to Get Dressed

Well, I will admit that it was awesome when my kids graduated from elementary school, and I no longer had to get out of the car to pick them up. Pajama pants? OK!

But, actually, this is what I’ve learned: I need to feel “put together,” or I cannot write in a put-together manner. I also gravitate to the couch if I’m too comfy.

Secondly, I’ve currently got two local clients who have events, press conferences and meetings (and so forth). They make me get dressed. And my national and international clients often request  Skype meetings, so then there’s makeup to be had (boo!). For real, there’s a little give here—no more suits, thank goodness, but you can't be a schlub!

You Can Raise Your Kids as a Stay at Home Mom

Um, no. And I know that depresses a great many of you who happen onto my site via those “work-at-home-mom” groups. It’s a great job for mothers, don’t get me wrong, but you cannot work with a baby or toddler in the house under your direct care all day. It does not make for professional matters in your business, and it does not make for good writing. You must either switch off with another caregiver (and, really, writing some nights and weekends isn’t that bad of an option), or you can wait until your kids are in school six hours a day, and spend that six hours trying to do eight hours of work like I do. Even with kids in school, your day will be interrupted at about 3:00 p.m. with sports and activity needs, friend drama and so on. But, it does allow a bit more work to be done that a crying baby or a bored toddler!

You Will Now Be Poor/Rich

So, back when the economy tanked, there were many people who “freelanced” as a way to fill employment gaps in their resume, and I began hearing a lot about the “poor freelancer.” By that time, my freelance writing and communications consultancy were already established, so I didn’t know a lick about that kind of thing.

I’ve consistently made equal to or more than my last full-time job.

At the same time, I bill anywhere from $35 (for family friends) to $105 an hour. There are some projects that have yielded as much as $200 an hour (some) (few). But, when I tell people my hourly rates, they make assumptions about how much I’m making overall, without thinking about things like taxes (including an awful self-employment tax rate), maintaining an office or paying sub-contractors. Nope, we're not all rich, either.

There is a reality here, though. I can control my income much better and more proactively than I ever have in any traditional job setting. I can ramp my production up or down depending on my family’s needs. I never completely fill my hours, but with my daughter attending college in a couple years, it’s good to know that option is there.

There’s No Stress

Yeah, no, try again. As a freelancer, you are essentially running your own business—even if you don’t incorporate as a freelance business and do all your work as a sole, independent contractor. You still have to meet deadlines, you still have to pay expenses and you definitely still have to do a lot of juggling.

There is some reality to this myth, though. Personally, I get stressed out in over-stimulating environments. Have 100% control of my work environment at my home office does reduce my stress significantly.

You Have No Boss

So, you’re the boss, now, right? Kind of, but you also have five “mini” bosses (or however many clients you have), and each of them wants attention on their project. It’s quite a challenge.

The Artiste Myth

The “artiste” myth says that you will work on and for your passions, and nothing else. Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a mortgage to pay and bills constantly due. Whereas I try to stick with my niche areas, I also need to take on other paying work. Sometimes, the rate is just too good to pass up, or my niches aren’t paying off, or whatnot. About a decade into this career, I’d say my balance between niche areas and work that isn’t my “passion” is about 70-30. Not bad.

So, what do you think? Still interested in freelance writing? Discuss this article or ask me questions at any of my social media outlets:

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