Is it hard to be a writer for hire?

a confession of a professional freelancer

freelance writer

When you work in an office, maybe doing the same repetitive work day-in day-out, it is tempting to dream of the freedom that comes from freelance work, and specifically freelance writing: ‘how nice, it must be, to get paid for sitting at home writing’. But that is not the whole story, and just like any job, freelance writing has its downsides too!


Finding Work

Just as you may have dreamed about being a freelance writer, so do many, many, many other people. That means that every time you apply for a job, a huge number of other budding freelance writers do too. This can be daunting. Each rejection, each ignored bid, each failed proposal is another slap, and another time you think: ‘how nice to sit in an office, doing regular work with regular pay’.


Doing the Work

And then come the accepted bids, the initial jubilation, and then the dread: ‘what do I do now?’ ‘How do I make my client happy?’ When your bids get the jobs, that easy work suddenly becomes what it actually already is: a gruelling fight against your own desire to procrastinate!

Getting Paid. Slowly.


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So you stay up working for 12 hour on a project that is paying you $35. You still must, even at this point, put every ounce of dedication into making sure that what you send is the best that it can possibly be. Regardless of the fact that you have spent more than the project fee on coffee to keep your brain working. Then the client sits on the funds. For days. Joy.


Managing Projects

Suddenly, you have MORE THAN ONE PROJECT! How, when you can barely string a sentence together about, say, Nystagmus, can you, in the break from this, or on the following morning, even comprehend what it might mean to write some copy about Austrian Judicial Systems? Well, you have to!

Taking Criticism


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One day you work very hard for a client, and you do everything that it was in your power to do, and they tell you they are happy, and they give every indication that they are satisfied. You tell them, ‘hey, if at any point you want me to do more work on this I will’. They say, ‘no, this is perfect’. Then they give you a review that is so bad that it lowers the 5 point rating you have nurtured like a new baby. What can you do? NOTHING!

Yes, it can be a joy to work on our own terms, in our time, from home. But on the other hand, it can also be an emotionally fraught experience!

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