Getting paid to write is a job many people think they would love. Just imagine: work from anywhere you please, work the hours you choose, get rid of that overbearing boss standing over your shoulder and “do your own thing.”
Not too many years ago, becoming a professional writer sounded like an impossible dream. Few people could earn a living by writing. Today, though, that picture has changed dramatically. The internet opened up a whole new world of possibility.
Writing sounds like a tough job to resist . . . but is it really all that wonderful?
The Benefits of Being a Paid Writer
Whether you’re retired and looking for a way to earn extra income or you’re a college student trying to decide on a professional direction, writing for money could be your answer. Before you start on that first article or novel, though, consider the benefits and recognize the possible reasons why writing isn’t a good fit for you.
Here are some of the top benefits of being a writer:
- Freelance writers can choose their own projects. They are free to accept or reject proposals as they wish.
- Freelance writers can work anywhere. You’ll need internet access and a computer to submit your work, but you can take a notepad to the beach and work from there if you wish.
- Freelance writers don’t worry about commuting, gas mileage, traffic jams, or a whole lot of things people who need to show up at the office face.
- Freelance writers can work in the clothing they choose. No suits, no ties, no business attire is necessary. You can work from home in your pajamas or get your hiking clothes on and work from the top of the mountain. It’s your choice.
- Freelance writers determine their own level of income. Some paid writers are concerned only with making a car of house payment. Some are only seeking “fun money,” while others seriously want to support themselves and their families by working as a writer. All of those desires are entirely possible.
Note that the word “freelance” precedes each of the points above. Freelance writers are in business for themselves. “Staff writers” are employed and must follow the rules of their particular workplace. They also accept the pay their employers provide. In this article we are primarily talking about freelance writers, but many writers begin with a staff job then switch to freelance.
Here are some of the main problems with writing for a living
You’ll often hear someone say “I want to work for myself.” In reality, that’s not possible unless you’re also paying yourself. Freelance writers have plenty of freedom — considerably more than their staff writer counterparts — but they still have bosses. The difference is that the “boss” is now a “client.”
- Choose the wrong client and you choose your own headache. It takes awhile, but every freelancer figures out it’s not wise to accept everyone who wants to hire you for a job. Some clients are more trouble than they’re worth, so if you work with them make sure your fees are high enough to justify the extra time.
- Your paycheck isn’t guaranteed. You don’t have the luxury of knowing you’ll get a definite amount of pay at definite times. You also won’t have access to company benefits like health insurance and paid leave. Don’t hop into working for yourself too quickly. You’ll have to give up quite a bit (but you’ll also get quite a bit).
- Writing can be tough work. The pictures always show smiling people at an outdoor table or in a beach chair working on a laptop computer. There certainly are times when you’ll love being a writer, but there are also times you will hate it.
T hose are the short lists of the primary benefits and problems of being a freelance writer. Give yourself a little time to think it over. Decide whether or not you REALLY want to be a writer.