Even before the Great Resignation of 2021, the gig economy was roaring. Since the late ’90s, freelancing has become popular for people who want to work independently. Thanks to the accessibility of computers, WiFi, and free tools, it has never been easier to begin a career in freelance writing. But as popular as freelancing is, there are still lots of freelance writing myths.
Can you really make a career out of freelance? Here are some common myths I have heard about freelance and the truths I need to shout from the rooftops!
Misconception #1: Writers are not needed as much anymore (the biggest of the freelance writing myths).
The Internet has connected the world in a way like never before. Freelance marketplaces have made it easy to find freelance service providers with a few keystrokes. The publishing industry today looks nothing like it did 25 years ago. Does this mean that writers are no longer needed?
Absolutely not. Yes, business models have changed. The way companies advertise and market themselves has changed. But there has never been such a voracious demand for up-to-the-second, accurate information. People want information and answers instantly. Someone still has to create this content.
And let’s consider what content consists of for a moment. Content can be an Instagram Reel. It can be a white paper, a press release, or a blog post. Content can be a YouTube video, a podcast episode, a quarterly presentation, or a TED Talk. Books are content. So are movies and TV shows. Songs and jingles are content. In short, everything is content. Even blockbuster movies and Netflix series start as what? Words.
Misconception #2: AI robots are going to take over writing.
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to significant changes in various industries. The content creation industry is no exception. AI writing tools have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. AI apps can now produce content for multiple purposes. Many different AI writing tools are available. Some of the most popular ones include grammar checkers, style checkers, and word processors. The idea that AI is going to replace writers is one of the most recent freelance writing myths I’ve heard.
First, it’s essential to understand that AI is not a replacement for human writers. Writers should not fear AI tools. While AI writing assistants can improve efficiency and accuracy, they cannot replicate the creativity and originality that only humans can provide.
We should also not pretend that AI won’t affect content creation industries. Technology has changed industries in the past, but we can learn new skills just as we always have. Writers should embrace AI writing tools because they can help us work more efficiently. There are still plenty of opportunities for freelance writers in the age of AI. Many companies are now specifically looking for human writers to create more personal and relatable content. Others hire writers well-versed in popular AI tools.
Misconception #3: Writing doesn’t pay a lot. (More freelance writing myths!)
Many would-be freelance writers are interested in the industry, but don’t pursue it because they think it pays poorly. I’m here to tell you that you can make a lot of money working as a freelance writer. In fact, there are some freelance writers and copywriters who make well over six figures.
Not all freelance writers are working for pennies. That’s another one of those pesky freelance writing myths. There is well-paying freelance work out there. A lot of it. As a freelance business owner, you can negotiate compensation with prospective clients. The demand for freelance writing is not limited to content mills.
Freelance is unique because you get to determine your own fees. You can choose the rate you will accept. Of course, when you’re starting, you may have to take lower-paying gigs to build up your portfolio. But once you have a few good clients, you can start charging what you’re worth.
Misconception #4: Finding freelance writing work is hard.
A lot of aspiring freelance writers worry that they won’t be able to find enough work. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and if everyone is competing for the same jobs… well, it’s a tough gig, right?
Wrong. Just more freelance writing myths.
There is more work out there for freelance writers than ever before. In fact, there will always need to be more qualified freelance writers to meet the demand. For one thing, consider the changing economy. With a changing economy and many layoffs, companies are looking for ways to achieve their goals cost-effectively. This is excellent news for you as a freelance writer. Freelance gives companies an option to pay for exactly what they need on a project basis.
Another reason to adopt a new freelance work mindset is referrals. If you do an excellent job for your clients, they will likely tell their friends about you. When people need a service, what do they tend to do? In addition to searching on Google, they ask their friends!
There are lots of freelance writers who are so busy that they need to subcontract work to other writers. Just take a look at any freelance Facebook group. That’s right — freelancers are hiring other freelancers to help with their workload! And guess what? As long as you’re doing good work, you’re likely to get hired again and again by the same person. Pretty soon, you’ll have a nice little network of clients who keep you busy (and well-paid). Some freelancers go beyond subcontracting to develop full agencies because they get so much work.
Misconception #5: Companies don’t take freelancers seriously.
Some writers have confided in me that they worry clients won’t take them seriously if they aren’t with a company. But the truth is, more people are freelancing than ever before.
With the internet, it’s easier than ever to connect with clients worldwide. And with video conferencing tools, you can have face-to-face meetings without leaving your house! This convenience is appealing to both businesses and freelancers alike.
Today’s business world moves fast, and people just need results. They need content to move fast. They need to communicate the value of their product and service. And they only care about whether you can do the job—not whether you’re with a company. Due to inflation and rising prices, some companies prefer to work with a freelancer because they aren’t paying for benefits, employer taxes, PTO, etc.
Misconception #6: Finding freelance clients is hard.
Another fear I hear in regard to freelance writing myths is about not having enough clients.
One of the things that makes freelancing awesome is that you can work with anyone. You can work with a person, a small business, a nonprofit, a vast corporation, and everyone in between.
And chances are you know quite a few people. You may have family, friends, neighbors, classmates, and old coworkers that can refer business to you. You probably have lots of acquaintances on social media. You might know people from your kids’ sports team or your place of worship.
Once you start putting yourself out there as a freelance writer, you will likely get opportunities from people you know first. As you continue to work on your business, you will meet more and more people. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. As your network continues to grow, so will your business. The truth is you’re more likely to have to turn clients down than not have any!
Misconception #7: Most freelance writers fail.
A lot of people are afraid of failure, especially when it comes to their careers. But the truth is, failure is inevitable – and that’s not a bad thing. Failing can be a good thing, especially for freelancers.
The first and most important reason you shouldn’t fear failure as a freelancer is that it means you’re trying something. Many people never even start because they’re afraid of failing. But if you never try, you’ll never know what could have been. So don’t be scared to put yourself out there and see what happens. The worst that can happen is failing – and that’s not the end of the world.
Another reason why failing is a good thing for freelancers is that it gets you closer to what will work. If you keep trying different things, eventually, you’ll find something that sticks. And all of those times that you failed? They were just helping you eliminate what won’t work so you can focus on what will work. So keep going even if you’ve failed a few times. Keep going until you find something that works for you.
Finally, failing also makes you smarter, tougher, and wiser. Every time you fail, you learn something new. Knowledge can help you become more successful in the future. So embrace your failures and learn from them. It’s the only way to grow as a freelancer (and as a person).
Misconception #8: Writing simply isn’t an in-demand skill.
You can have the most groundbreaking discovery. You could have the most innovative, life-saving concept. Yet, if you can’t communicate about your product in a way that resonates with your audience, you’ve got nothing. The idea that writing is not important is one of the worst freelance writing myths.
It doesn’t matter how important a message is or how incredible it is. If your content is not communicated so that the intended audience receives it and resonates with it, your message doesn’t matter. It’s almost like it doesn’t even exist. Value only happens when someone “gets” it. Someone has to help communicate this value.
Misconception #9: Writer’s block will keep me from succeeding as a freelance writer.
This may be unpopular, but I am about keeping it real around here.
I don’t necessarily believe in writer’s block. I believe in procrastination.
I don’t think of writer’s block in the way of “Oh, I can’t think of what to write.”
I think that writer’s block is really about not understanding the assignment. It could be about needing clarity on something. It might be overwhelming. It could mean not understanding something required to forward. Other things are happening that are stopping you from starting. It could be imposter syndrome.
Procrastination has a stigma of being connected to laziness, but it’s really tied to perfection. Are you scared to make a mistake? The best solution I have found is to plow right through this – to take action despite the feeling. Just write. It can be anything. You can write about your assignment or a list of information that would make your project easier. Often that is enough to kickstart your progress.
Misconception #10: You have to be really motivated to make it as a freelance writer.
I feel the same about motivation as I do about writer’s block.
Sure, there are motivational speakers, motivational books, and endless motivational memes. But if you are waiting for motivation to strike you spontaneously, you might be waiting for a very long time.
I believe profitable freelancers are the disciplined ones.
Discipline is about creating realistic habits and sticking to them consistently. It’s about writing even when you don’t feel like it. It’s about taking intentional action and overcoming procrastination and even fear. It’s about getting into the flow of writing or working. What I have often is that taking action and making progress breeds motivation. I am suddenly motivated to continue because I see that I have conquered the significant obstacle of beginning in the first place.
Clarity comes from action. Motivation comes from doing.
Misconception #11: Freelance writers can’t succeed because of the feast-or-famine nature of freelance.
It’s critical that you save a sinking fund before starting your freelance business.
Hopefully, you will be wildly successful right out of the gate. But if it takes a little time to ramp up, you will be thankful that you saved. You won’t be stressing out about bills while building your freelance business.
Even after you get a good rhythm in your freelance career, saving money for lean months is still a good idea. Some months are busier than others. Depending on the type of writing you do or the clients you serve, there may be some seasonality to your writing business.
Some clients pay relatively quickly. Some are net 90. Unfortunately, your mortgage company won’t care about your rejection letters. Daycare doesn’t care about the list of clients who haven’t yet paid but swear that the check is in the mail. Saving and planning ahead can help you tremendously.
Misconception #12: Freelance writers can’t succeed because there is too much competition.
With fewer barriers to entry comes increased competition. Indeed as a modern-day freelancer, you are not just competing with other writers in your geographic area. You are competing with the entire world. Different exchange rates and economies can also play in favor of writers on the other side of the globe.
Competition can be fierce. You might feel disheartened to see a race to the bottom of the barrel regarding rates. But competition means that there is demand.
Indeed, some companies don’t value professional writing as a service. You might feel straight-up disrespected on some days.
But I will tell you this. Some writers make pennies for their words, and there are those making multiple six figures. There is enough for everyone. There will always need to be more competent freelance writers to fill the demand.
There are new communities of freelancers that I discover every day. I see posts from burnt-out writers asking for help because they have too much work.
Sure, the world of journalism has changed. Print publications have folded. Websites have come and gone. But the demand for factual, helpful information has never been higher. Someone has to write all of this content. It might as well be YOU.
What freelance writing myths have you heard? Let us know in the comments!
Photo by stilclassis on Unsplash