July 3, 2018
As a freelance writer, I get a lot of questions from friends and strangers when they find out what I do for a living. I thought I’d share some of the silly and serious questions I get about being a freelance writer, freelancing from home, whether all writers are poor (here’s how much freelancers make daily), and the best time to take the leap to full-time freelancing.
Nope. I wake up and change into workout clothes or shower and change into workout clothes in anticipation of possibly working out. Depending on what I have planned for the day, I’ll put on jeans or pants with a waistband. Making sure your jeans still fit is crucial when you don’t want to gain weight working at home.
Yes, people ask freelancers all the time how much they make daily. (And no, I don’t ask that person their salary in turn.) My tax returns are between my accountant, the federal and state Governments, and myself. But in all honesty, I make more money freelance writing than I ever did when I worked full-time on staff at magazines. (In this freelance writing blog post I share how much I try to earn daily.) I think that’s because I can take on more projects and assignments if I want to. As a freelancer, time is your most valuable asset. Make sure you use it wisely. (Here’s how many hours this freelancer works each week.) Check out this 2018 Survey Results from Clear Voice “How Much Should I Pay a Freelancer?”
I usually watch TV shows while checking and responding to emails in the morning. Sometimes I’ll watch TV in the middle of the day when I’m not working but it’s rare and I usually feel kind of guilty, like I should be doing something else. I find that going on a walk while listening to a podcast helps me feel rejuvenated and creative.
I don’t think that’s necessary, but I do think you need to have a solid command of the English language and grammar. (If you want to get started as a freelance writer, check out my beginner course on Teachable.)
This question comes up a lot and it’s a bit of the chicken or the egg dilemma. Editors and potential clients will want to see your writing samples before they give you work to do, but, you can start writing on your own and show samples of the types of articles you would write on your blog. I cover this more in my Freelance Writing Online Courses on Teachable.
I say yes! Why not? Or a stay-at-home dad. I’m mom to a fur baby so I can’t speak from experience but I know plenty of successful freelance writers who are moms. Some of the moms who are able to work from home as freelance writers told me that they hire babysitters to take care of their children while they’re working and either go to a room with a door, or leave their home in order to take work calls and get writing done. Don’t underestimate what freelancers can get done in 15 minutes to build your business.
I wish I could say I get paid direct deposit from every client as soon as I turn in my article, but that’s not the case. Some freelance clients pay me via PayPal, others via Bill.com, some pay directly into my bank account, and others via a check in the mail. As a freelancer, it’s important to have a solid savings safety net in place because it can take months to get paid for your assignment sometimes. It’s not necessarily the editor’s fault; paperwork could get lost in accounting and administrative departments. Make sure you know when you can submit and invoice, and how long it takes to get paid. Some print magazine clients won’t submit an invoice until a magazine hits newsstands, and then it could take 45 days to see your payment appear. I had one client that assigned stories about seven months out from the issue’s on-sale date, and then they didn’t pay until two months after it appeared on the newsstand. That’s nearly a year. I liked working with them, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth that ridiculous wait.
Many of my freelance students have a ton of ideas but they’re not sure of where they can get published. Knowing where to pitch an idea is more complicated than it looks, but, simply put: do your research. Spend time determining the best outlet for your idea. I help students focus in on the best magazine or website to pitch their article idea to in my course or with one-on-one coaching. This blog on how to find editors’ names to pitch to is one of the most popular freelance writing blogs on my site.
No. And I’m not saying this because you’ll be my writing competition. People tell me all the time that they want to quit their jobs because they hate what they’re doing, they don’t like their boss, they’re bored, they hate their commute, or fill in 100 other reasons that they like the idea of working from home, in their pajamas and not answering to a boss. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a freelance writer. But it took me nearly a decade to make the leap to do this full-time and be able to make a living in NYC on a freelancer’s salary.
If you want to get started freelance writing, start it as a side hustle. Make sure you don’t mind sitting in front of a laptop by yourself for hours, that you have the discipline to send out pitches, and that you can write on deadline.
Writing for yourself for fun is much different than writing for clients. You have to deliver what they want and keep doing revisions until it’s the way they want your article to look. Filling out paperwork for clients and following up on invoices is also very tedious.
You also have to be comfortable marketing and selling yourself. Promotion of your work, networking, and staying on top of (and frankly ahead of) the latest trends and topics is a part-time job in itself. Bottom line: Do it if you’ve been freelance writing for a year at least a year, are making close to your salary already and have a few months of living expenses saved up. Freelance writing full time is possible, but I don’t encourage excited writers to jump into the ocean without a lifejacket.
Diana can help with:
Email Diana about opportunities: Diana(at)DianaKelly.com.
Get Diana Kelly's weekly e-newsletter with freelance writing tips. When you sign up for her weekly email newsletter, she'll send you her "15 Best Freelance Writing Tips" PDF as a thank you gift. See a recent example. Like it? Sign up.