5 Common Freelance Writing Myths Debunked

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Sep 29th, 2023

Freelance writer at work

Are you trying to get into the freelance writing game?

In this article, you’ll learn about the common misconceptions about freelance work and gain valuable insights into the freelance world. It’s a must-read especially if you’re looking to make money by writing online content for the first time.

Freelancing is not as easy as you may think:

Every couple of years, especially during tough economic times, there’s a flurry of reports in the mainstream media about how freelancing is the answer to short-term job loss. These articles almost always tout how easy it is to become a freelance essay writer or editor. It seems like freelancing is an ideal “job” for stay-at-home parents, or people looking to supplement their income while working full-time. It is also suitable for students who want to write “on the side” and people trying to generate some income until they get a “real” job. While it’s true that most of the above groups can and do make a reasonably good living from freelance writing, achieving longevity in this profession is not a piece of cake, especially if you want to sustain a family from it. Freelancing takes time, commitment, a professional attitude, and the ability to effectively market yourself. Here are some frequent fallacies that plague the world of freelance writing.

Here are the most common freelance writing myths:

Myth #1: Freelancing Doesn’t Require a Routine or Much Discipline

The typical work-at-home freelancer is featured as a pajama-wearing, coffee mug-toting individual with feet up on the desk, leisurely typing away on a laptop at 3 a.m. It’s mostly true that a freelancing professional may keep flexible hours and work from almost anywhere and at any time. But what’s often not highlighted is that a routine must exist within this “freedom space”. Freelancers need to have a schedule to keep up with their workload and commitments, even if that means scheduling work for 3 a.m. and taking client calls while grocery shopping. Freelancers often have to manage multiple assignments simultaneously. Then they have to cope with the commitments and responsibilities of home life, and social life and fit in some personal and vacation time too. All these duties and obligations mean that as a freelancer, you’re constantly performing a juggling act. For this reason, organizational tools and calendars are a freelancer’s best friend. It’s crucial to invoke some discipline and build a powerful productive routine that will act as an anchor in this always-on world. Since a freelancer doesn’t have a real boss and there’s no outside pressure to get the job done, self-accountability is key. Freelancers have to develop non-procrastination tactics, be able to self-motivate, establish routines that work, and enforce all these practices regularly.

Myth #2: Freelancing is Free of Cost

People often foray into the world of freelance writing expecting little to no barriers to entry in terms of cost. The same freelancing newbies are then flabbergasted when asked to pay for access to bidding sites or for memberships to view jobs. They usually compare freelance bidding sites to traditional job posting sites, where the latter does not require any fee to view jobs. The same people then wonder about the benefits of keeping up with membership when they’re not getting any jobs. Well, here’s the real deal. Becoming a successful freelancer requires some start-up costs, just like any other business. The costs go mainly for marketing,  gaining visibility online, and software tools that help with accounting or project management. Just like a business owner needs to advertise his products and services, so does a freelancer. Bidding sites expect payment to help get a freelance contract so that a freelancer’s portfolio, profile, and proposals are visible to a buyer. Therefore, this setup is not comparable to a traditional job search; rather it is comparable to a business owner’s approach, which brings up the next point. A freelance writer has to bear all the costs of doing business. Be it promoting the available service packages, social networking, accounting, bookkeeping, writing proposals, paying for technical support and broadband internet, phone charges, and general administrative, marketing, financial, and business-building tasks. All this results in a larger-than-expected cost outlay and opportunity cost investment which must be factored into freelancers’ rates. Another thing to consider, when the business starts rolling, is hiring other freelancers to help you out so you can focus on what matters the most. As a writer, you’ll need help with editing, proofreading, website development, and social media management. You might even need to hire other writers who will take on projects you’re trying to roll out. All of this costs money. But if you want to grow, you have to spend some.

Myth # 3: Freelancing is Not a Real Business

This kind of mindset is quite pervasive in the freelance writing world, but it’s completely wrong (unless you’re only looking to make a few bucks here and there). A freelancer is an entrepreneur, not a hobbyist. Working with professionalism and ethical standards, building long-term customer relationships, and ensuring that clients receive work that’s on time, on budget, and brilliantly executed are all part of the job description. Since there is no third party to answer to, a freelancer reaps all the rewards of work well done and also assumes all the risk of shoddy work. Running a business means that clients have certain rights and those rights cannot be waived due to home life complications. Business working hours need to be communicated to clients and then strictly adhered to. Attending a client’s call with a wailing baby in one hand, or missing a deadline because of a social event is just as unacceptable in the freelance world as it is in a traditional office environment. Part of a freelancer’s duty to their clients means providing timely status reports about work progress. They have to ensure that communication channels are always open, determine times and schedules for mutual correspondence, and generally behave professionally at all times.

Man writing at home

Myth #4: Anyone Can Become a Freelance Writer

While it’s true that there’s no specific degree offered for freelance writing work nor is there any work-at-home manual to adhere to, it’s still imperative for a freelance writer to have a certain skill set and talent. As the popular saying goes “Anyone can write, but few can write well.” So while people can learn skills and train themselves to write well, the art of writing does not come naturally to all, and not all who learn it will ever be good at it. Freelance writers comprise a tribe that’s constantly learning and finding newer, better ways to express thoughts and emotions through the written word. The top traits that all successful freelance academic writers exhibit are a love for reading and a love for writing. The former helps increase vocabulary and exposure to different writing styles, while the latter is necessary for improving personal style and writing faster and better. Being passionate about various writing forms is at the core of every successful freelance writer’s life.

Myth #5: You Can’t Ever Make Enough Money Writing For the Web

The term “enough money” means different things to different people. Since freelancing is a global game, one person’s dollar is another person’s penny. Generally, though, a skilled and talented freelancer, who runs the business professionally and handles all aspects of the operation (from marketing to financial to administrative), can consider freelance writing a sustainable source of living. The real secret to long-term success though is building long-term relationships with valuable clients with deep pockets. Any savvy business person who does this knows that more money is made through repeat clients than through new ones. Finding and marketing to new potential clients is a costly endeavor and all efforts should be made to find and keep long-term clients. This reduces the cost of doing business and increases the potential for being viewed as a freelancer who invests in clients and has their best interests at heart. Consider a freelance career by all means, even as a part-time gig, but always remember to execute it professionally. This paves the way for informed buyers and informed newcomers to freelance writing.

Bottom Line

I hope that going through this list of common myths associated with the freelance writing world will help you get a clearer picture of this growing and exciting market. You must take time to develop your freelance operation and proceed with patience. Prepare for the long haul, stick with it, and in one or two years max, you’ll have a thriving business. Perhaps you’ll even be able to write about what you love while sipping daiquiris at an exotic beach. Next up, you may want to explore the top flash fiction publishers who pay freelance writers.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.