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When Should a Freelance Writer Quit Freelancing and Get a Real Job?

choicesWhen should a freelance writer quit freelancing and get a real job? Any damn time they choose to!

I love freelancing. Except, of course, when I don’t. The longer I freelance, the less likely I am to give up and take a job inside working at a magazine or a publishing house, or… well, you name it. Any job that has a regular paycheck and maybe some benefits is sometimes tempting.

This came to me when a friend of mine scored a great job writing for a publication she loves. When she told me about it she indicated that she felt guilty for giving up freelancing. I wanted to metaphorically strangle her.

If no one else has told you, it’s perfectly okay to stop freelancing. That’s one of the joys of a freelance writing career – you get to make choices, and that includes doing something else. No guilt is necessary or called for.

First, a freelance writer has a real job

If you’re a freelance writer you’ve got a real job. Writing is a work, no matter how it seems to your Mother-in-law or the family cat and kids.


Jennifer Mattern has a nifty article that spells this out clearly, called Get a Real Job and Other Freelance Buzz Kills. She nails the responses we get from some on this issue, and offers truly encouraging words.

If by ‘real job’ you mean, or they, mean, regular hours plus unpaid overtime because you’re on salary, a commute that requires you get in your car or on a bus for more than half a minute twice a day, some sort of benefit package, and the right to be fired with no notice, well, that’s certainly a limited way to look at work.

Times when you might want to quit freelancing

The most obvious time to quit freelancing is when it isn’t working. This often has to do with income, or the lack of it. Earning a decent living as a freelance writer requires more than writing. Not everyone can figure out the marketing, the working with uncertain income, the running of a business to make it a success. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s not at all unusual for even successful freelance writers having a history of getting jobs before they figured it all out.

But money isn’t the only reason. Some discover they simply don’t like all the alone time. They want more structure. Others have too many obligations to let go of the certainty of a salary right now. A few, like my friend, stumble into a job offer they choose not to let go.

Any and all of these and many others can be darn good reasons to quit freelancing.

Notice too, that none of the reasons to quit mean you have to quit forever. Freelance writing is terrifically flexible and you can come back next year or next decade.

A surefire decision tool

If you can’t make up your mind, use the pro/con decision tool. You know, a line drawn down the middle of the paper with all the reasons to quit freelancing on one side and all the reasons to keep freelancing on the other. The theory is which ever side gets the most entries wins.

One of the things I like about this simple pro/con approach is it helps clarify my thinking. By the time I’ve written the two lists I pretty well know what I need to do regardless of which side ‘wins.’ I’ve been known to keep at it even when the cons seem to outweigh the pros – and the other way around.

Embrace your decision

Whatever you decide, embrace it. Let any feelings of guilt or “I shouldn’t have done this” go, at least until you’ve given your choice a good and honest try.

We’re truly fortunate that we have so much choice in our lives.

What are you thoughts on sticking with or getting out of freelance writing? How do you feel about it?

Write well and often,


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ah, there’s that word ~ freedom. Wins out every time for me. The only thing I find attractive about an employer-based job is the health insurance and other benefits. But even that isn’t as great as it used to be. I was recently approached for a full-time job that would be a remote one but I still turned it down because of that word ~ freedom.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..A Feel Good, Non-Smarmy Guide to Business CommunicationMy Profile

  • I think it’s an individual decision for each writer. I’ve been a freelance writer for over 25 years, but I recently saw a full-time position at a company in my town and I considered applying for it, in part because I thought I might like being around other people all day.

    In the end, though, my love of freedom won out.
    John Soares recently posted..Why I Did Not Help a Fellow Freelance WriterMy Profile

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