Search the web for “Best Side Hustles” or “Best Work From Home Jobs” or something to that effect and there’s a good chance you’ll receive any number of clickbait links of “Top Ten Best” lists telling you how easy it is to quit your job and do this one simple thing from home. Of course it’s usually a lie. Nothing lucrative is ever easy. Unless of course you already have money or connections or both. In which case, why are you still reading? This article definitely isn’t for you. In fact, it’s not for anyone really aside from the author who only needs an outlet through which to vent.
Usually these lists will almost place Freelance Writer as one of the most accessible remote careers. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a will to write, write, write. You like to write, right? You are a writer, are you not?
None of this is untrue. I definitely understand the basics of how freelance writing can produce a living outside of traditional work, albeit a very tenuous and perhaps meager one. However, while writing is in the job description and is technically the core tenet of this profession, what you must understand before attempting to undertake this new endeavor is that there are a great number of other skills which must be mastered before achieving any sort of success in this field.
Do you like writing term papers? Did you enjoy doing research on topics you had little or no interest in? How about cramming all those days/weeks of research into an afternoon or an hour on a mind-numbingly boring subject like gutter maintenance or the behind-the-scenes technical details behind the latest crypto coin? Okay, now write 500 words on it, quickly, without errors. Alright, looks good? Submit. Uh-oh, your client paying you a 2.5 cents per word isn’t 100% happy with your work, so you have to make some edits. Another hour later and maybe, just maybe, you’ll receive your full payment of $12.50 – if you’re lucky. Congratulations, you are now making sub-minimum wage pay!
Better still, you’ll get to do this dance hour after hour, day in and day out, pleasing whatever whims your stingy, low-paying clients desire. Whatever love you once had for writing will be soon replaced by an understanding that no one really cares how beautifully you can describe a warm breeze on a summer morning. All that matters is Search Engine Optimization and Keywords, how quickly you can pump out content and how easily it can be monetized. Freelance writing will teach you, whether you like it or not, to be a jack of all trades and a master of absolutely none.
But wait! This one freelancer makes $200k a year working from a beachfront condo in his speedos! He says that the key to making it is to pick an underused niche and stick with it, to build a client base and form good working relationships, build a professional website with all your rates listed, network using social media relentlessly, constantly staying informed on any new developments in your chosen niche, etc. Anyone can do it!
Again, none of this is untrue or even entirely undoable for the average person. And I know I’m blowing this all out of proportion but the truth is, it’s all very undoable for me.
I’m a writer but I’m not a business-minded person. I’m not a hustler. I don’t know what it is but the idea of being constantly on edge, trying to come up with ways to write about things I have no passion for while simultaneously always being on the lookout for my next job fills me with about as much anxiety as I already deal with working my current day job. At least there, I always know when my next payday is coming and it’s pretty much always the same… and full benefits don’t hurt either in this age of pandemics and man-made climate disaster…
Definitely, I am looking for ways to make a living doing what I love, to work from home without the stress that comes from my day job. For me at least, freelance writing is not that path, no matter how natural the fit may seem. And I’m not knocking anyone that makes a living this way. It’s definitely viable if you have the right mindset.
Understand though that writing is only a small portion of what goes into freelance writing. And not being able to succeed at freelance writing does not mean you’re not fit to be a writer. Making money is always nice but it is not the end all be all of life. Forcing yourself to monetize your writing ability is the surest way to drain your passion for it.
As with most things in life, being a successful writer is entirely what you make of it.