Could freelancing be the future of work? It might well be.
Joining the “gig economy” is the in-thing in America at the moment.
It’s become the new normal.
According to a recent study by Freelancing in America 2017, more than 57.3 million Americans are freelancing, many of them being freelance writers.
If the current growth rate continues, freelancers will make up the bulk of the US workforce by 2027.
More and more people are seeking greater flexibility and growth at work. And freelancing seems like the perfect fit.
If you’re seriously considering being a freelance writer, allow me to give you the basics.
The term “freelance writer” has many permutations from what I’ve observed.
But to cut to the chase, a freelance writer is a writer who is contracted by an individual or a company to do a project-based work.
A project can take hours, days or even months to complete. But once it’s over, a writer is free to work with another client. Therefore, a freelance writer is not committed to any particular client long-term.
That’s what separates a freelance content writer, or any other freelancer, from the typical employee.
In other words, a freelance writer is, in a sense, self-employed.
A formal contract is usually signed, but this is not always the case.
Even so, I think it’s always in the best interest of a freelancer to have a contract in place.
Aren’t we all seeking more flexibility in the workplace? However, it is a luxury not afforded in traditional employment. You report to work Monday to Friday and work for a set number of hours, say 9-5.
However, things change when you become a freelance writer. You get to enjoy flexible working hours, location flexibility, and project flexibility.
As a freelancer, you set your schedule. You can weave your work around any prior commitments. Imagine slotting in your work between and around a morning visit to the doctor and afternoon trips to the bank and the grocery store and still beating a deadline.
You can also work at any time of the day or night. It doesn’t matter whether you are a morning or a night person.
Better yet, you can take some time off for whatever reason.
Unlike in traditional employment, you are not stuck in a cubicle the whole day. You are free to work from anywhere you like. Again, it’s all about meeting deadlines.
Need to visit your family in another city? No problem. You can travel and work from there.
Need to go on a holiday? No worries. You can travel and complete the work from any part of the world.
Bored from working at home and in need of inspiration? You can carry your laptop and go into a park, or even a cafe.
You can even move to a new state without any fear of losing your job.
As a freelancer, you are not caught up in the humdrum of daily routine that involves doing the same thing again and again. Each day is different.
You work on diverse projects. One day you could be writing about online marketing, and the next day you are writing about crypto-currencies.
Moreover, you are not stuck with one boss like in traditional employment. You could work with one client in one week and work with a different one the other week.
You also get to choose the projects you work on. For instance, if a regular client sends you a project you don’t particularly like, you can turn it down politely and still keep that client.
Only someone who’s had an experience with a bad boss can understand how frustrating and stressful life can be. It can take a toll on your career, personal life, and health.
A study by Woohoo inc. revealed that cases of bad days at work are increasingly becoming common among employees. About 2 out of every 3 employees have a bad day at work every week.
And guess what employees cited as the number one cause of unhappiness at work? Bad bosses!
There is also the case of office politics and annoying coworkers who can make life a living hell at work.
Imagine not having to deal with any of them.
As a freelancer, you work on your own terms. Although your clients are technically your bosses, there is no one to look over your shoulders, no one to micromanage you and no one to throw you under the bus in company meetings.
Moreover, you get to exercise greater control over your career because you are in a position to make executive decisions about your future. As an employee, you can’t do that. Your control is limited to your job description.
That being said, I must warn you that being your own boss is not all rosy. It’s a huge responsibility, and you have to be up for it.
If you’re in traditional employment, your career progression path is pretty much set in stone. You compete for promotions with your colleagues, and there is a great deal of office politics to grapple with. Then, there’s a limit to how far you can rise.
If you are ambitious, having to wait for years for a chance to climb up the ladder can be frustrating. Pay rises may also seem to take ages, and when they come, they may not be worth the wait.
It is, therefore, not uncommon to feel like your career has stagnated.
But when you become a freelance writer, your fate is in your hand. I think that’s both a great and a scary thing.
It is a great thing because the career path harbors great potential. How far you can go is only limited by your willpower and proficiency. You can set what you want to earn and work towards that target.
It is scary because you have to prove yourself to your clients. And clients typically have high expectations. Therefore, you cannot ignore the need to continually hone your skills, market yourself, and continuously deliver high-quality work.
But when you become an expert, your income potential is immense.
You are more likely to find happiness as a freelancer than as a traditional worker. Surprised?
According to a poll conducted by ReportLinker, 97% of freelancers and contractors who responded said they were happy in their job.
However, only 48% of traditional workers who responded to a different survey by Personal Group considered themselves happy.
What could account for this disparity?
I reckon freedom, flexibility, and control are key ingredients of happiness. There is also a real sense of purpose working in doing what you love, and this brings about greater job satisfaction.
However, you cannot pin happiness to one, two or three things for workers in traditional employment. Happiness at work depends on much more than a good pay and benefits.
Employees also seek a good working relationship with colleagues and superiors. They also seek job security, learning and career development, appreciation at work, a financially stable company, a suitable physical working environment and of course purpose.
If one of these factors is missing, an employee’s happiness levels can be negatively impacted.
Moreover, a typical employee only gets a bonus, a pay rise and maybe a pat on the back when they do well at work. However, when you become a freelance writer, you reap all the benefits of a job well done.
The modern world is fast-paced. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for workers to achieve work-life balance.
People are spending more hours at work than before, and when they get a chance to spend some time with family or exercise, they are replying to emails and taking work calls.
Lest you’ve forgotten, a good work-life balance prevents burnouts and stress and promotes productivity, health and overall well-being.
I’m not saying that there is no real danger of burnouts for freelancers because there is. Gigs can sometimes pile up, and as a freelancer, you may be forced to work extra hours to meet deadlines.
However, freelancing still gives you the best shot at achieving the much-needed balance between work and other things that may be a priority for you.
For instance, a writer working from home has no problem finding time to spend with family. That may not be the case for a traditional worker who leaves early for work to beat traffic and returns home late at night.
Furthermore, a freelancer can take a break to recuperate after days of intense work. This may not be possible for a traditional worker who has already taken an annual leave and has no one to shoulder their workload at work.
Freelance writers will always be in demand. I frankly do not foresee a time when the services of writers will no longer be required.
More and more people are creating blogs. And more and more businesses are going online. All need quality and regular content to stand out, rank higher in search engines and attract web traffic.
And the higher the number of blogs and websites, the higher the demand for freelance writers becomes.
Even if there were no blogs and websites, writers would still have magazines and newspapers.
However, I’m not implying that things are easy when you become a freelance writer. If you want to attract and keep clients to ensure a steady stream of writing gigs, you have to first market your skills in the best way you can and deliver unique and high-quality articles when you get clients.
All you need to become a freelance writer is a computer and an internet connection. What else comes that easy?
If you are to start any other kind of business, you almost always need capital. However, you can become a freelance writer as soon as today.
Right at this very moment, you can visit an online job board and pitch for a writing gig.
Although there are a few job boards that you may have to part with a little fee to access, most of them are free.
If you love learning about new things, freelance writing is an opportunity to work and learn.
As I mentioned earlier, freelancers work on diverse projects. Many still have chosen to go niche, which is an excellent idea since you can never really be great at everything.
Nevertheless, as a freelance writer, each project you do is an opportunity to learn something new or understand something at a much deeper level than before.
Routine kills creativity. That has repeatedly been proven. A regular 9-5 job creates a series of habits which ultimately consolidate into a daily routine.
If creativity is crucial to your happiness, freelance writing can be a great outlet to harness your creative potential.
When you become a freelance writer, you get to cover a wide range of projects which feeds your imagination. You also brainstorm ideas. In a way, brainstorming unlocks your mind allowing it to wander far and wide.
In the end, you earn a living through your creativity.
I could go on and on; however, I thought these 9 points would suffice to explain why being a freelance writer can be a great career choice for you.
As a freelance writer myself, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying all these benefits and I can assure you that it’s something to look forward to.
Enjoying greater flexibility, attaining a good work-life balance and the prospects of pursuing an open-ended career have particularly stood out for me.
Hi, I’m Mercy Mmbone. My mission is to help beginner freelance writers find success online. Even if you don’t have a degree, becoming a successful freelance writer is not as difficult as you’d think. The most important thing you’ll need to get started is self-motivation.
I’m honored to have worked with many popular companies including Ring Central and Freelancer FAQs.