The Struggles of Freelance Writing

Now that I’m more than two years in to my career as a freelance writer, I think it’s safe to talk about my share of struggles. I’m feeling good about this, guys.
 
Why? Because it’s easy for me to say, “Freelancing is amazing! I love my job so much and everything is wonderful!”
 
But there are also some not-so-great realities we need to talk about.
 
Let’s get real—what are the struggles freelance writers have to face?
 
Loneliness
 
Working on your own (and from your home, if you’re like me) means dealing with loneliness. Switching from an office environment where people would pop in and out of my office all day long to a quiet room in my house turned out to make for a much more efficient workday, but there’s no interaction with other humans. Sorry dog and cat, you don’t count.
 
There are some days where I don’t say a word out loud until around 5:00 at night. I’ve also found that spending so much time alone means that your social skills aren’t as sharp when you need them. It gets more difficult to make small talk and actively engage in listening when you don’t practice doing that.
 
That means you have to be deliberate about getting out of your sweatpants and back in the real world. I’ve been doing this by going to a yoga class twice a week, regularly visiting friends for coffee, and keeping communication open with fellow freelancers online.

Speaking of: Want to join the Slack group I created for fellow freelance writers/content marketers? Email me. It's an awesome (small) group that asks/answers questions, shares job opps, and helps each other on data collection/quotes.

Now back to struggle talk.

Uncertainty
 
Being a freelance copywriter also means dealing with the ups and downs of client work on a monthly basis—which means varied income. I’m lucky to have several clients on retainer, which helps ensure I make at least that regular amount each month—but everything else depends on how much work I get (and how hard I work to find new projects.)
 
I’ve found this uncertainty can actually be a benefit rather than a struggle, as it’s a great motivator for me to beat past months. However, it certainly means taking on more risk—which takes some getting used to.
 
Explaining What You Do
 
For me, using the term ‘copywriter’ is confusing in 2015 (I wrote about this in depth on Medium.) There are a lot of misconceptions about working from home and freelancing—and I’ve found that people tend to give a metaphorical head pat to those who have a job description that includes “write blogs” and “create email content.”
 
It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to explain what I do to others, and unfortunately, I’ve found that people really only seem to express understanding and an interest when I can touch on something they already know—like writing for a publication or for a business they’ve heard of. It's a work in progress.
 
Time Management
 
Rather than always having a regular amount of work, my freelance business comes in spurts. I find myself busy with a lot of projects for a couple of weeks, and then every once in a while there are a few days where I panic and think, “Crap! I’m not busy…everything is falling apart!”
 
It feels like this: I’m so busy! I’m stressed. I’m not busy enough! I’m stressed.
 
There’s a lot of stress born from an irregular workload, but if you can be efficient and manage projects effectively, having that flexible schedule is actually a really wonderful thing.

 
Overall, do the benefits of freelance writing outweigh the struggles? YES. 100 percent, in my opinion.
 
What struggles do you face?
 
I think it’s time we have a real conversation about the struggles and obstacles we face as freelancers and writers. Care to share some of your own? You can reply to this message or tweet me @kaleighf.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy.