Thinking about freelancing?
As someone who took the plunge over a decade ago, I feel uniquely qualified to offer pros and cons of joining the freelance club.
My goal here isn’t to sell you something. I’m not trying to be your digital career guru. I don’t have a course to offer, and I won’t send you a listing of exclusive freelance job opportunities.
I’m just offering my relevant experience and insights as a freelance copywriter. I sincerely hope it helps.
A little about my freelancing career
I got started in freelancing after my second child was born. It made financial sense for me to stay home, but I lost my identify somewhere in the mounds of dirty diapers and badly executed Pinterest crafts.
I needed an outlet, so I started writing.
I had a few things working in my favor.
First, I went to college and worked professionally for 10+ years in a relatively small geographic area. I had been a newspaper reporter and hospital marketing director. People knew I could write, and I had work samples to prove it.
Second, I didn’t have to pay the bills. My husband’s job did. I could afford to take risks and work cheap.
Third, the timing was perfect.
Remember: this was the early days of content marketing. Digital marketers were just starting to recognize the power of SEO and explore ways to harness it.
Keyword stuffing and spinning articles ran rampant. It was like the wild west out there, and I was Calamity Jane.
My first job had a couple of “real life” clients, but I wanted to expand. I started working on a digital platform called oDesk. It’s now called UpWork, and it may be great. I haven’t worked there in years.
But back then, oDesk was my proving ground. Even though I had writing experience, I didn’t have stars on Odesk. I had to earn them.
That meant I had to work for nothing.
My first Odesk job paid me $25 for 10, 500-word articles.
Do the math. That’s $2.50 for each article. 0.005 cents per word.
Why did I do it? It came with the promise of a 5-star review and a glowing reference. From there, I was slowly able to land better paying jobs.
But it was a slog. It took two years to attract the type of clients and rate I wanted.
I’m not telling you this to earn your respect or admiration. I’m telling you so you understand that freelancing is a sacrifice. As a creative, you must prove yourself, especially if you have no relevant work samples or references from legit brands.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You just need to go into with your eyes open and a realistic outlook.
With that, here are my pros and cons of freelancing based on my 11 years of experience.
Pros of freelancing
Cons of freelancing
Key takeaways if you’re thinking about freelancing
Take it from someone who knows. Freelance writing is pretty great. You have the flexibility to work when and where you want. You can pick your clients and, for the most part, set your own rates.
But it’s also a journey. Go into it expecting some lean months and even years. It takes time to accrue the types of work samples and connections that bring big dollars.
Other insights? I’ve be interested in hearing others’ thoughts about working as a freelance writer. Email me and let me know what I’ve missed.