Freelance Writing Myths

Michael Geffner, award winning Writer/Journalist/Columnist, recently posted five myths about freelance writing. Here they are:

Myth #1: It’s all about query letters, pitching ideas, and resumes.

Myth #2: It’s impossible to make a living at it.

Myth #3: Once you make it, it’s a glorious life.

Myth #4: It’s a constant hustle.

Myth #5: One of the best ways to get freelance work is through online freelance job sites.

more on these myths


Bulk Writing Assignments

Myth: It is always worth it to cut my rate for bulk writing projects.

It is seldom the case. During a slow season, it is tempting to take on 50 articles for half the price you would normally charge. You may be thrilled that you finally have enough work to keep you busy, but it’s probably not worth it. The promise of continued work is often an empty one. Many times individuals who buy large quantities of articles at cut rates will keep an eye open for a writer who will do the work for even less money. If they do find a cheaper writer, you will be left in the dust.

Bulk projects of hundreds of articles can be time consuming. You have to be sure that they per hour value will be enough to sustain you if you don’t have time for other projects. If the work can be done quickly and easily, the bulk work might not be a bad idea. For example four single page articles per hour at a rate of $5 each is $20 per hour. If you are comfortable with that rate and you can handle the work, do it.

Don’t severely compromise your payment standards just because someone says that they have a lot of work for you. Sometimes lower paying work can be grueling, and just a few hours into the project, you will realize that you are earning less than the federal minimum wage per hour.

Before you take on a gazillion articles at a cut rate, make sure that they can be done quickly and easily. Don’t cut your prices more than 25% for larger assignments. Sometimes, you will be better off if you keep your schedule open for higher paying work.

Don’t Believe The Buyer If They Say…

Do this one cheap (or free) and we’ll make it up on the next one.

We never pay a cent until we see the final product.

Do this for us and you’ll get great exposure! The jobs will just pour in!

On looking at sketches or concepts: “Well, we aren’t sure if we want to use you yet, but leave your material here so I can talk to my partner/investor/wife/clergy.”

Well, the job isn’t CANCELLED, just delayed. Keep the account open and we’ll continue in a month or two.

Contract? We don’t need no stinking contact! Aren’t we friends?

Send me a bill after the work goes to press.

The last guy did it for XXX dollars.

Our budget is XXX dollars, firm.

We are having financial problems. Give us the work, we’ll make some money and we’ll pay you. Simple.


I found this list of freelance lies from reading a blog that linked to a blog, which linked to another blog. It actually turned out to be geared towards freelance artists, not necessarily writers, but it is incredibly relevant for writers. Check the page out, it gives insightful reasons for why these comments from buyers are suspect.

Can I make money writing whatever I want?

Myth: A freelance writer can always make money writing about any subject.

Truth: It is limiting to focus on only certain subjects. I often write on topics that aren’t may favorite thing in the world. It really depends on what you know most about and how much that market pays, but there is a buying market for content on almost every subject. The reality is that not all subjects are as popular or as high paying as others, therefore, you may have to write on somewhat less appealing topics to really make money, especially in the beginning of your career.

Do your homework. There are more than a dozen paying freelance writing markets to dive into, and some pay way more than others. For example, copywriting, technical writing, and medical writing tend to pay more than poetry or web articles and blog posts. I suggest getting the current copy of The Writer’s Market and looking up your favorite subject and writing genre. Study the markets and read the advice.

If you are the type of writer who has to be in love with the subject before you can write about it, you should take the time to research the paying opportunities within your favorite subject. Don’t be afraid to learn about new things and research unfamiliar topics. You might find a new love. You shouldn’t limit your earning potential with emotional writing. By all means, you should write about things that you know and love, but you need to be flexible and open minded. Being versatile and learning different writing genres and new topics will help you build a diverse portfolio and make you more appealing to buyers.

It is possible to make some money with deeply inspired writing, but you can make more money if you are willing to expand your horizons.

The freelance writer’s office

Myth: “I am a freelance writer, I don’t need an office.”

Truth: Yes, you do. I am not saying that you have to be there all the time, or that you have to have a stuffy, uptight, box-like prison to do your writing. It is crucial that as a business owner you are consistent and organized. For your own psychological reasons, you should have a steady comfortable place to get to work. You may have one or two places that you can go, or a certain undisturbed place at home where you can let your creative juices flow. It is difficult to focus on work if there are other things to do and focus on staring you and your laptop in the face. I have alternate places that I go, but I have limited them to three, so that I have a comfortable and familiar feeling that allows me to get to work. It also eliminates the feeling that my work day never ends. I set the hours, and then I leave my office when it’s over.

Aside from the ability to consistently focus, an “office” is a must for record keeping purposes. Contracts, your business account, invoice records, and client contact information need to be organized. You also need a place to keep track of work related print materials (books, magazines and other paraphernalia), pens, a printer, fax, ink, paper, and other supplies. If you aren’t organized, your clients will eventually find out.

My other reason for suggesting so strongly that you as a freelance writer need an office is because there needs to be a physical separation between your business and the rest of your life. If you don’t live alone, privacy is a must. You need an area that is off limits to others. It is extremely helpful to have a place where others need to respect your space and time. Simply creating this office area lets them know that you are a serious business owner and you are not just working on your hobby. The boundary is very much needed if you are going to work from home.

Having your own “Freelance Writer’s Office” will help you to feel that you deserve to be taken seriously and that your job is real.

Is there enough freelance work to go around?

One of the questions that I have most often encountered when people ask me about freelance writing is the money. How much can a person make? Are there enough job opportunities out there to make a decent living?

Myth: Freelance writers have low incomes and need others jobs to support themselves.

Truth: I am not poor. Not everyone could live on my income, but I am not poor. As with any business in any field, self-employment can be risky and unpredictable. As an entrepreneur and a business owner, I am entirely responsible for the amount of money that I bring in. I am paid to produce content, and the more content I produce, the more money I make. On the same token, if I don’t produce, I don’t get paid. This is not only true in the freelance world, but in any business, with any career. If you don’t work, you won’t get paid.

Many freelance writers do start out part-time and have other jobs. The creative process is more free when your masterpiece is not the factor that will determine whether or not you can pay your bills. Freelance writing is easier when you have another job, in some ways, but you don’t need one if you don’t want one. In some ways, it is more difficult to be successful at freelance writing with the obligations of another job.

It is important to note that there will be no perfect time to take the risk. If you can afford to fail, go for it. I don’t believe that just anyone can succeed at freelance writing full-time. You don’t have to be a fantastic writer, but you do have to be decent at it, and you need to know how to run a business. It takes long hours of hard work, marketing, organization and dedication. If people have told you that freelance writing isn’t worth your time, and you can never support yourself with it, don’t believe them. If you are meant to succeed at it, you will.

Here is a list of people who have really made it big in the business with six figures a year:

Bob Bly
Kelly James-Enger
Beverly Bachel
Peter Bowerman
Andrea King Collier
Lisa Collier Cool
Sondra Forsyth
Karen Frankel
Sam Greengard
Tim Harper
Leah Ingram
Jennifer Lawler
Margaret Littman
Robert McGarvey
Victoria Moran
Jim Morrison
Brian O’Connell
Jennifer Pirtle
Erik Sherman
Jim Thornton
Terry Whalin
Nick Usborne

Note that it takes time to develop the skills and the reputation necessary to acquire financial freedom as a freelance writer. There will be times that you don’t have any work and other times when you have so much that you don’t know where to start. If you are determined, you can support yourself and your family with money left over.

Freelance writing is more than a hobby

To kick off this blog, I would like to shed some light on misconceptions about what I do for a living. Freelance Writing is a career that many people don’t understand. Individuals who are looking into a freelance writing career might have some of these ideas, and it will really help them (you if you are one of them) to understand the truth that follows.

Myth: Freelance writing is only a hobby.

Truth: While freelance writing can be a hobby for some people, it is much more than that. It is possible to have a full-time career (as I do) as a freelance writer. It is a lucrative business that should be respected as

such. A freelance writer like me would be considered a self-employed individual. I have to handle accounting and marketing as well as writing. I am running a business!

If writing is just a hobby for you, that’s perfectly fine. Writing can be a great outlet, and if you do writing on the side for money, that’s even better. Freelance writing can create a decent living if you do it right, and you don’t have to work for pennies, either.

If you are hoping that you can quit your day job and be successful at writing, there is a way. Not everyone is meant for the freelance life, however. I hope that my posts help you make the right decision about it. There are some who have made hundreds of thousands of dollars freelance writing, and many more who earn enough to quit their day job. Others fail for a plethora of reasons.

You can be assured today of one thing: freelance writing is a profitable career for the right person. If you are a self-disciplined and creative entrepreneur, it is very possible that you can make it in the freelance business. Freelance writing can be more than a hobby if you want it to be.

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