01You're Independently Wealthy and Don't Mind When Clients Pay Late
Obviously, people can take their sweet time in paying you, because you're rolling in the dough! This means you don't mind writing 1500 words for a magazine on a deadline, and then waiting for three months for your work to publish, and another 60 days after that to get paid. Don't worry- if it takes too long, you'll just ring up Daddy Warbucks.
Truth: Many of your clients, especially print magazines, and big publishers, will work on a payment schedule that draws out payments over time. Establishing several different types of clients in several different industries will help to mitigate this scary roller coaster ride. It also helps to start out your writing career by transitioning from a full-time job and to save a couple months' operating costs before you hang out your shingle.
02You're Flattered When Other People Steal Your Work
Ahh, the internet. Thanks to the web, valuable content is likely to never see the printing press (ahem, thank you HuffPo). I don't know about you, but when I write something funny and engaging, I want other people to grab it from my website and put it on theirs. I'm totally flattered, even though their plagiarism could negatively affect my article's Google rankings, which basically amounts to stealing food out of my kids' mouths. But hey! Think of the exposure!
Truth: Others will indeed steal your web content and try to pass it off as their own, and this might mess with your Google rank. Depending on the client you're writing for, you might have to have a hand in watching out for this. How? I use Copyscape to stop plagiarism, but you can also keep an eye on your SERPs.
03It's Ideal for You to Work in 10 Minute Spurts Over the Course of 18 Hours
This is for you parents out there. You know how it is. After a couple years of raising babies, toddlers, and then talkative kids, you get really good at being interrupted. For me, I love writing about 100 words, then helping my son find the Oreos. Then, I will take about a minute to remember where I left off, two minutes to rev up my mojo again, and then pound out another paragraph before my daughter lets me know that the dog somehow got up on the table and into said Oreos. After that, I like it when my phone rings, and my mailman knocks on the door. Then, I usually buckle down and compose a good sentence or two before someone's homework needs a read-through. Yeah, I love that stuff!
Truth: the above is truth. Although my older kids allow me to work much better than when they were younger, I still need to get most of my work done in the blissful six hours when they are at school. Summers are pretty much a wash Keep this in mind as you embark on your freelance (or parenting) journey.
04Conducting Interviews is Fun, and You're Not Introverted in the Least
Despite what "they" say about writers being introverts and all that nonsense, you're the life of the party! You exude confidence, sparkle, and tend to take charge of a room. So when it's time to meet a subject for an interview, you look forward to it, right?
Maybe. Not all writers are quiet introverts. At the same time, there's something about working individually in the quiet of your own home that tends to draw us thoughtful types. But, at the same time, these same traits might work against us when it's time to get to the bottom of the story. My advice? Interviews get easier with each completed one. So, hang in there. Another way to alleviate some of the stress is to make sure you are well-prepared and ready-to-go. No sense in adding additional stress.
05Talking to Clients From Your Closet or Minivan Is a Challenge You Crave
It's simply not enough to feel nervous talking to clients or conducting interviews. Nope, you need the extra challenge of answering calls when your dogs are barking at the mailman, or when you're taking your turn in the carpool.
Truth: Trust me on this one. Even with a home office that has a door...even with set office hours...Your phone will ring when you least expect it to. Be prepared, or let it go to voicemail!
06Constantly Searching for Work Keeps You Fresh (and Hungry)
Consistent paychecks? Repeat clients? Who needs those pipe dreams?! Not you. You like it when you're not sure where your next check is going to come from. You don't need any kind of schedule to pay your bills!
Truth is that you'll need to work hard to mitigate these challenges. As you progress in your writing career, you'll learn to aim for repeat clients or those who have ongoing needs and regular pay dates.
07Sorting Scam Writing Jobs from Real Writing Jobs is Like a Game!
I don't know about you, but spending (non-billable) hours sorting through the riff raff writing jobs on Craigslist feels all fun and tingly. It's kind of like when you were a toddler and had to put the square shapes into the star holes, or whatever. It's a challenge, you know?
Just kidding, I know the square shapes go in the circle openings.
Also, once you progress in your freelance writing career, you get to forego all that sorting bull, because the jobs come to you. Until then, writers can cope by sticking with high-quality freelance writing job lists, and check out my blog series on Say Yes to the Writing Job, which details what to look for in a writing job posts.
08One Job Responsibility is For Wimps; You Want to Juggle and Wear Multiple Hats
I don't know about you, but to me, just writing is boring. I would also like to be a marketer, accountant, human resources manager, website programmer, and more! Yup, my brain is just that big.
Seriously? I'm a writer. That's what I do best. yet, freelance writing often entails treating your work as a small business. Now, you can outsource a lot of these to-dos, eventually. When you can afford it. When you're comfortable. But, until then, you're wearing multiple hats.
09You Don't Get Angry at All When People Devalue Your Work Because You're At Home
Hey, I'm over here in my home office toiling, typing, trying to fit 8 hours of work into a six hour day while my kids are at school. So, despite the fact that I contract with national publishers, manage an international team of translators, and have solid publications credits on my resume, I understand when my neighbor calls this my "hobby" or when an acquaintance insists I must be able to volunteer at my kids' school since I work-at-home. No, no, that's totally ok.
Not. People, I'm running a business here. I'm well-qualified, well-paid and well-organized. So don't make any assumptions about my career that you wouldn't want to be made about yours. And, writers, if this happens to you, please- for the sake of all freelancers- correct your friends. This is the wave of the future. Telecommuting won't be taken seriously until WE take it seriously.
10Since You're SuperHuman, You Neither Procrastinate Nor Get Distracted
The Huffington Post doesn't distract you at all, right? And Facebook? Pshhh! Me neither! Salon, Slate, all my favorite news analysis sites are non-issues. I swear. And, when it comes to getting started on the day, that totally happens at 9am, right when I return from dropping off my son at school. Never at 9:30 or 10. No matter what's on TV or how many friends ask me to breakfast.
Ok, I'm fudging. A little. Look, this career requires discipline. If you don't have it, then you'd better fall into the category cited in #1 above. Otherwise, it's in your best interest to be organized and to turn down most of those breakfast invites (but if you don't, then at least be ready to work at night, like I'm doing now.)
11Bonus Reason: Vacation? You Don't Need No Stinkin' Vacation!
This past May, my family and I went to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, and Washington DC over Spring Break. I was totally cool with them enjoying the beach, boardwalk, sun and sand while I worked and took care of emails. When my husband took off to have a beer at the poolside bar, I wasn't jealous at all. And, I didn't even feel guilty when my son said: "Why did you bring the computer on our vacation, Mom?"
Um, no. I hate working on my vacation. Now, don't get me wrong: I'll do it if I have to. But I went into this career knowing that there were some tradeoffs. I am constantly available to my family and kids, 24/7, 365 days a year. But, the same can be said for my clients. I'm ok with that, and if you're thinking about becoming a freelance writer, you should be, too.
10 Reasons to Be a Freelance Writer (No, Not Really)
The Top Ten Reasons (NOT) To Be a Freelance Writer
So, you want to be a freelance writer? Yeah, you do! Want to know why? People steal your work! Your checks take a long time to get to you! If you're lucky you get to work 18 hour days!
Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Be a Freelance Writer (but completely tongue-in-cheek).