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The Best (and Worst) of the Freelance Writing Life

freelance writing lifeShow of hands: How many freelancers worked on Labor Day? While the conventionally employed were celebrating the day off with the traditional meal of grilled meats, many freelancers were no doubt still hard at work.

Previously, we covered how hard it is to take a vacation as a freelancer, but the lack of time off isn’t the only downside to working for yourself.

Freelance Perks

Here’s a rundown of the best and worst things about being your own boss:

  • Setting your own hours. Night owls can clock in after dark, while early birds are free to fire up their laptops with the dawn. Not being stuck in the nine-to-five rut gives you the freedom to work when you’re at your best.
  • The choice to say no. In conventional jobs, you almost never have the luxury of turning down an assignment. Freelancers, on the other hand, can choose to say no to projects that don’t feel like a good fit. As Jennifer Parris, career writer at points out  at CareerPivot, “you get to pick and choose the projects that have the most meaning to you. This makes freelancing fun since you’re doing what you love—and getting paid for it.”
  • Avoiding boredom. Variety is the spice of life, and working on a variety of projects means that freelancers don’t get easily bored. You might take on an assortment of writing, editing, and proofreading jobs. Even if you specialize in a particular niche, each client or publication is different.
  • Working in your pajamas. It may be a cliché, but freelancers really can (and do!) work in their pajamas.

Freelance Pitfalls

Of course, there are pitfalls too, including:

  • Lack of structure. Some people thrive in a more structured environment, while others feel stifled. If you feel a little lost without the rules and oversight of a traditional office job, it may take some time (and planning) to get into the freelance groove. Set a schedule and keep careful track of your deadlines to avoid costly slip-ups.
  • No watercooler gossip. Don’t underestimate the importance of socializing! Matthew Lang, a freelance software developer, reminisces about the office camaraderie he once had: “I worked in a great team of developers a couple of years ago and I do miss the chatting before the stand up and pairing with other devs through the day. You can be the most connected person on Twitter, but it’s no replacement for a face-to-face chat with people.”
  • Unpredictable income. One of the biggest challenges for all freelancers is the lack of a steady paycheck. This fear holds many people back from making the self-employment plunge, but long-time freelancers learn to roll with the punches. Some months are feast and others are famine; the good news is that you can always hustle harder during the lean times to find extra work.
  • No safety net. When you’re a writer or editor in a traditional workplace, there are other people on the team to review your work. When you’re a freelancer, you’re usually on your own. That means that every aspect of quality control is up to you—and you alone. Grammarly’s automated proofreading tool can make your freelance life a little easier by helping you catch spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos.

What’s your favorite part of freelancing? Share your personal pet peeves and plus sides in the comments!

Kimberly JokiKimberly Joki, a devoted bibliophile, sesquipedalian word nerd, and general lover of language, works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Kim, the Grammarly team, and more than FIVE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Will Carpenter

    Another aspect of freelancing, related to the lack of a safety net: if you get sick, your income suffers, sometimes for months. After major surgery — heart surgery, for example — some people enter a fugue state during which intellectual activities and even the intellect are severely affected. This state may last three months or more, even if the surgery is eminently successful. This makes a case for accumulating a stash of cash to pad your fall if you fall sick, or to cover you following a procedure.

    In other words, even a low-interest savings account into which you throw a few coins a week is preferable to abject poverty. You might not want to set aside even more than you must for taxes, but in the long run, it pays.

    • totally agree, Will. I’ve also found that when I have a chunk of savings it’s way easier to negotiate from confidenct.

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