6 Downsides of Writing For a Living (And How to Combat Them)

writing for a living

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that writing for a living is a bad occupation.

So long as you’re good at it (and you like doing it), being able to write for a living is a great deal. It’s even better if you’re a freelancer, and better still if you get to do your work remotely.

However, there are a few rough sides of the job that rarely get talked about. It’s the old grass is greener situation. People often focus only on the great benefits freelance writers enjoy, such as the increased freedom and work-life balance. But it’s not all glamorous. In fact, a few aspects of the job can be frustrating, and even more so if you aren’t prepared for them.

So how do you handle these drawbacks? The first step is acceptance — knowing the cons, as well as the pros, can help you adjust to the writing life easier. Here are six downsides of writing for a living (plus advice on how to combat them).

1. Some Clients Don’t Know How to Work With Freelancers

Unfortunately, some clients aren’t as adept as they could be at working with freelancers. They may want you to work for them, but this doesn’t always guarantee they’ll be good at working with you.

Companies have strict rules about the information they must share with employees, the date which they must pay them, and how they can schedule them. With freelancers, there’s no sense of urgency, at least from a legal perspective.

This means some clients will be slow to respond, late with payments, and even unclear about exactly what they want from you. This isn’t the case all the time, as some clients hire freelancers enough to learn how to work with them. But when you’re writing for a living, you’ll find that the quality of your work life depends largely on how responsible your clients are.

Sound familiar? Here are six signs it may be time to break up with a freelance client and how to do it.

2. Starting Writers Usually Work for Cheap

While you save on gas and dress clothes when you work as a freelancer, the financial side of things isn’t always lucrative.

When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, you probably won’t find a lot of clients willing to pay great money for your services. When it comes to buying copy, clients want proof that you can deliver. A slim portfolio and a lack of published pieces may leave you with little bargaining power.

Once you get rolling, it’s easier to improve your earnings. But with no guarantees as far as wages, you’ll usually be working for cheap early on. Consider it a learning experience, and a motivational tool. Once you get some credentials, you’ll enjoy the ability to find higher-paying jobs and move past the humble beginnings of freelance writing.

Wondering how much you should be charging as a freelancer? Read this handy guide.

3. The Customer is (Still) Always Right

After escaping the capitalistic purgatory known as retail, I was thrilled to spend less time in customer service. Coming off two management jobs, I was happy to only be responsible for me, myself, and I.

However, I soon realized that the writing industry was similar to others in that the customer is (still) always right. This phrase isn’t just applicable to traditional jobs — it’s a simple fact of commerce. Your success as a freelancer will depend on making others happy and building up good professional relationships.

Good customer service isn’t just a matter of manners, though that helps. When you’re easier to work with and committed to giving a person what they want, you’ll develop a better network that helps you to enjoy greater success.

Ready to step up your customer service game? Here are four simple tips for communicating with your freelance clients.

4. Some Days You Just Don’t Feel It

Pick a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Nonsense!

Take anyone from any field and ask them if they ever get tired. Even if you love your occupation, you’re bound to get fatigued when you work for long periods of time, or when you work while dealing with other issues.

It is great to have a line of work you’re passionate about, but when you’re writing for a living, you should be aware that some days you just don’t feel it. Some days you may simply feel off and be unable to deliver your best. This is an inescapable fact of the job.

The more time off you get, and the better things are going outside of work, the less likely you are to have those days when you just can’t get excited about writing. But when they do come, remember that such feelings are only temporary.

One of those days? Read this.

5. Work Can Be Inconsistent

This is something all workers know about, even if they aren’t freelancers. When you work an hourly job, you may find that your schedule is all over the place at times. Some weeks you may not be getting enough hours, whereas other weeks you feel like you might as well live at your workplace.

When writing for a living, you should be aware that your workflow will fluctuate at times. Sometimes your clients may have less need for copy, while other times they’ll be sending you more work than you know what to do with. And no, living at your workplace (even if it’s at home) doesn’t make things any easier.

Looking for fill-in work? Here are some interesting writing gigs.

6. Being Your Own Boss Isn’t Always Easy

The best thing about working as a freelancer is being your own boss. You make the final decisions, you call the shots, and you get to craft your professional destiny as you see fit.

If it sounds great, that’s because it is. If it sounds hard, that’s because it is.

Being your own boss means handling your own scheduling, prioritizing projects, going the extra mile to make clients happy, managing expenses, struggling not to fall behind, and conducting this linguistic circus in a manner that pays the bills.

Freelancing can seem like a safe haven in a world of strict schedules, control-freak managers, and the struggles of the corporate hierarchy. When you know about the inescapable and lesser-discussed frustrations of a freelance writing career, you know more about what you’re getting yourself into and whether or not the job is right for you.

Are you ready to go all in writing for a living? Find and apply for the best remote freelance writing jobs the internet has to offer by signing up to become a Job Hunter PRO. For the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, you can gain instant access to specially curated writing gigs.


Josh Stanley

Josh Stanley has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. In addition to business, he also specializes in writing about technology, the writing industry, and the freelance lifestyle in general.

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