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The Real Reason I am a Freelance Writer – Well, One of Them…

reason I am a freelance WriterOne someone asks me the reason I am a freelance writer, I usually respond “I’m a very good worker and a lousy employee.”

Generally everyone chuckles and we move on to something else.

There is, however, a lot of truth in that statement.

I can remember jobs under florescent lights in cubicles where I’d either be working my tail off or bored to tears. It was in one of those jobs I discovered that, by and large, I write faster than many folks.

I was working for the long defunct KayPro magazine, Profiles. (KayPro was the first ‘portable’ computer with a hard drive and Profiles was their magazine) where  I had a chance to really compare my output with others. It wasn’t long before the editor gave me quiet permission to work on my own projects when I was done with the work for the magazine.

In other situations I’d be given more work simply because I could get it done. More work, but no more pay.

I also was one of those employees who refused to be quiet about what I made. I realized early on that management does not want people comparing what they make, not out of politeness or any other reason except they don’t want the inherent unfairness to show up.

So while I always got the work done, I didn’t play by the rules which often meant mangers were unhappy with me anyway. Usually I’d quit before I got fired. Once I got fired because I was speaking up about the way the customer service agents were being treated.

In other words, I don’t play the employee game well. And it is a game. Which is why I say the reason I am a freelance writer is because I am a good worker… just not a great employee.

Of course freelance writing isn’t free from game playing either.

Take, for example, pay-by-the-word. It reminds me of when I cleaned vacation homes for a living at $X an hour. Every time I cleaned, I did it faster than the time before because I was learning the job – but when I reported my hours honestly, the better I got at it, the less I made.

I don’t think employers or magazine editors actually pay by the word with this in mind. In fact, when I’ve pointed out the problem they’ve happily switched me to a flat fee.

Another game some clients like to play is to keep negotiating the price downward. Usually they have some creative excuse, like a recent divorce or other problem. It usually works like this. I’ll name a price and they will name a much lower one. They are expecting me to meet them in the middle. Sometimes I’ll come down another 5 percent or so, and that’s when they hit me with the ‘reasons’ they can’t pay my full fee.

I’ve learned to walk away from these folks. I won’t play that game either. On the other hand, when I am hired, I work hard for them – really hard.

Another real reason I am a freelance writer is I love to write. I love the short commute and the ability to control my time and the ability to decide when I’ll start work and when I’ll stop… the list goes on, as you well know.

What’s the real reason you’re a freelance writer?

Write well and often,






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