Maybe You Don’t Want To Be A Freelance Writer After All

by Anne Wayman

Editor in a glass-walled office

I assume that most of the readers here either are freelance writers or are trying to figure out how they can do their writing from home.

The blunt truth, or at least some of it, is that freelancing isn’t for everyone. There can be lots of reasons for wanting a writing job where you go to an office every weekday.

Here are some of them:

You need predictable income. This is probably the biggest reason writers decide to return, or never leave, regular jobs. Freelance writer’s income is notoriously unpredictable. The regular paycheck makes many things easier.

You need the benefits, particularly health insurance. Health insurance is, I would guess, the second biggest reason writers want to work for someone else. The other benefits are nice too.


An inside job would boost your writing career. Sometimes taking an inside writing job will give your career a boost. It may be that you need to learn new skills either about writing or about the technology we all deal with today. Or maybe the inside job is truly prestigious and well paid. Working inside can work well for many people.

You want the discipline of working for others. It’s not always easy to get up every weekday and start working for yourself. Knowing you have to report elsewhere for work and that you’ll be expected to produce provides the discipline many want. I know I benefited and learned how to discipline myself partly from inside jobs.


You’ve discovered you simply want a more predictable schedule. The freelance writer’s schedule can be as unpredictable as the income, while writing inside tends to be 9-5. It’s easy for freelancers to work through weekends and holidays. That doesn’t happen so often when you’re working in an office for a company.

You miss the interaction with co-workers terribly. Lots of folks who try freelancing find they hate working at home alone. It’s a legitimate reason – being alone just doesn’t make for a good work environment for many. Taking an inside job cures that loneliness.

There’s nothing in the world wrong with deciding the freelancing life isn’t for you, or isn’t for you right now. When you know yourself well enough to sense you want a more normal job, it’s time to go for that. Trust yourself – you’ll be glad you did.

What are some other reasons for not freelancing?

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine May 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Hi………………..

What a great stuff share in this blog. I like it so much. Its very useful info for me.
You have don a great job keep it up.. :)
Thanks.
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Christine May 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I have to say freelance writing is lot more difficult than I thought before I started… At the outset, I overestimated my available free time and took on too much work than I could comfortably manage. I got through that initial first bubble eventually, but it left a sour feeling with me… It was a lesson learned.

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Jenny February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I have to say freelance writing is lot more difficult than I thought before I started… At the outset, I overestimated my available free time and took on too much work than I could comfortably manage. I got through that initial first bubble eventually, but it left a sour feeling with me… It was a lesson learned.
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annew February 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Jenny, it’s always a learning process… no need to feel sour.

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Mitch Mitchell January 29, 2012 at 12:33 am

I’d probably say the scariest thing about it all is the marketing piece, something I’m still not good at after 10 years of working independently. It’s the hardest thing in the world, trying to value your work when those you’re marketing to have no clue in how to value it. I think income goes a long way towards consternation as a freelance anything.
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annew January 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Mitch, what do you find so confusing about setting rates?

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lodri January 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Hi – I am quite a regular reader but I am not a writer (you can probably tell from my typing errors!) but am a designer, I want to get myself into a position where I can design from home and I think that designers and writers in terms of career options have a lot in common so I often look around here to see if I can find any out of the box tips for success!

All of the things you suggest above are true and while I think a lot of people do want the security of a “job” rather than working for themselves I think that a lot of the people who feel they need this have never experianced the freedom of working from home for themselves! I think once you have dabbled with that kind of freedom it is very hard to go back, its on par with moving back in with your parents after having been to university for 4 years – it just doesnt cut it.

In the UK we dont have the burden of healthcare either so I guess thats an advantage of been over here!

Great post thanks!
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annew January 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Lordri, the advantage you in the UK and other countries have in universal health care is indeed huge. And your point about many of those wanting regular jobs have never experienced freelancing. Of course, as recent experience has shown for many, having a job is no security either.

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Elizabeth West February 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm

That’s for sure. I just lost my job (the position was eliminated). I’m seeing nowhere near the amount of listings I found the last time I looked, six years ago. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
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annew February 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Elizabeth, there really are more opportunities now… have you looked at my job links? http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/jobs-for-freelance-writers/

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Greg January 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I agree with lack of steady income, discipline issues, etc., but I have no choice except to freelance – I’m unemployable. The worst for me is having to do everything myself. I hate marketing.

I’d add to the list the trouble of establishing a work-life balance. That’s been a challenge for me.

Another one is having to always look for jobs.

Ironically, I started freelancing so I could work at home and spend more time with my kids. Ha! Now I want them to leave me alone so I can get some work done.

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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

Actually, I’m pretty close to unemployable too. And yes, the kids are a problem, but I promise you they will grow up, really. ;)

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Krysha Thayer January 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

These are all excellent reasons for not freelancing and ones that I took into consideration carefully before deciding to go into freelancing permanently. It’s all worked out though and I actually like freelancing more than I liked having all those things at a ‘real job’ anyway.
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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

For those of us who like freelancing and are comfortable being alone, a job is anything but attractive. And we don’t have to get one!

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Lisa Jo Rudy January 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Another potential issue: freelancers do more than just write. They also market, sell, invoice, and manage the office.

Lisa
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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

Oh yeah, we do it all don’t we.

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Paul January 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

All very good points. For me, the biggest problem I have with freelancing is the social interaction. Some days it really feeds into my misanthropy, while other days it drives me to go out and take the day from writing just so I can actually talk to people.

You are right though, it can be a very lonely business and not everyone is cut out to do it. I have the fortune (or misfortune) of resenting working in an office, so I’m all set here.
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Krysha Thayer January 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’m in the same situation as you. I resent working in an office so freelancing was just in the natural course of things for me. But it can get lonely and I agree that it’s not for everyone.
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Mark Keating January 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm

If you really miss the camaraderie and professional environment of the traditional office, you might look into coworking or shared office space in your area. The local chamber of commerce may also have a similar space for members. Office and meeting space when you need it, opportunity to rub elbows with other cubicle refugees and freethinkers. And in my case, to get out of the house when the kids are home on vacation :-)
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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

Mark, what a great idea… didn’t know there was such a thing. Want to do a guest post on this for me?

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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

As I often say, I’m a very good worker and a horrible employee.

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Corey - Freelance Writer January 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Anne, I completely agree with every point you have made here. I’ve been freelancing for about 6 or 7 years now and the biggest struggle, besides the unpredictable paychecks, is definitely the lack of interaction with coworkers. But that social interaction can be found elsewhere. For myself, I joined a volunteer organization and donate my spare time, which can sometimes be abundant – while other times nonexistent, to helping others. This allows me to participate in that social interaction, while still being able to kept my ‘freedom’. If I can continue to be successful, I don’t think I will ever go back to an inside job – I just love freelancing way too much.
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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

Corey, I know many miss the constant interaction of a work place… I’m not one of them. Maybe because I’m an only child or something, but being alone works well for me. Glad you’ve found ways to take care of yourself. We are all so different, and so much the same.

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Nicolas Cailot January 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

I have been working as a freelance writer from the last one year and I felt that working at office is a better option. Apart from the reasons above, I think socializing with others and interacting with others would be missing if I am working independently. If I go to office sometimes I can share my problems with others and get solutions. It will make me more active. After a month I am going to join office and would be physically and mentally present at the work place:-)
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Caroline Leopold January 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm

You listed my top reasons that kept me from going freelance- health insurance and steady pay. Other reasons may include not enjoying the constant hustle for work. Or the possibility of clients taking advantage or being disorganized, leading to stress and demoralization. But I had to go freelance. I felt like I had no choice. Either I stagnate and treat writing like routine work or challenge myself to compete within a talented marketplace.
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annew January 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

Many of us identify with what you’re saying, Caroline.

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