This is a guest post by Talbot Derwood, with a few cold hard facts when it comes to you and launching an entrepreneurial career as a freelance writer. Since I’m a ‘ghostblogger’ myself, I thought this a great topic to explore, as I firmly believe that if you can write worth a lick, you can get paid for it if you’re hungry enough.
Being a writer is the greatest job in the world.
It affords you the opportunity to use absolutely every skill in your arsenal. You get to be creative, intellectual, technical, and innovative. Your only limitation is your knowledge base, so every new experience and everything you learn is fodder for your writing.
If you enjoy soccer, you may one day find yourself writing coverage for the World Cup. If you had a troubled childhood, it can be channeled into a memoir, or maybe you’ll publish self-help and personal acceptance literature. Do you have a healthy fantasy life? Maybe sci-fi novels are in your future.
Or perhaps your tastes lean more towards the technical and you prefer to pen service manuals. Maybe your personality is extremely meticulous and you’d prefer to produce legal contracts. Whatever road you choose, there are many career opportunities available for those who exhibit a proficiency in writing.
And the Internet has opened up a whole new world for freelance writers, with websites that cater to companies seeking piecemeal work, as well as the writers who wish to take it on. But before you decide to become a “writer”, an actual, everyday, working writer, there are a few things you should consider.
Thoughts to Ponder
1. It’s hard work.
Being creative on command is no easy feat, especially when you have to do it day in and day out. It doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling well, your cat died, or you just can’t get inspired. When a deadline hits, you have to produce the copy, and it had better be good or you won’t be paying the bills this month.
You will have to hustle for clients and do everything you can to ensure repeat business. And unless you get really big, you’re going to have to be not only a writer, but a business manager, a PR and marketing department, and an accountant. So get ready for some long workdays.
2. You must have talent.
This sort of goes without saying, but it’s really essential if you’re going to make a career out of your writing. You absolutely cannot succeed if you don’t excel at the English language, from technical aspects like spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure to more ethereal qualities like choice of vocabulary and the ability to turn a phrase, mimic a style, and produce text that will grab the reader’s interest. If you cannot consistently deliver on all of these points, you may suffer from spotty work (and paychecks).
3. It can be frustrating.
You will work with clients who are demanding, nit-picky, rude, and exasperating. They will ask for samples, freebies, and re-writes (and you will give them). You will be rejected…over and over and over again. If you already have a healthy distaste for rejection, you will learn to hate it, and even fear it.
You will also suffer from writer’s block. It happens to everyone. There will be days when you stare at you computer screen, your mind as blank as the page in front of you, wondering why you ever thought writing was a good idea. Oh yes, you will be frustrated.
4. You must be self-motivated.
In case you forgot, you’re going to be your own boss. Congratulations! Now what? You are solely responsible for running your life, your time, and your business, so don’t think you can sleep until noon, putter around the house until three, put in a couple of hours at the keyboard, and call it a night. You won’t even pay your electric bill that way.
You’re going to have to buckle down and work, and most likely, you will put in more hours than any of your nine-to-five friends. Sorry, but writing is an imprecise art. You might knock out ten pages one day and only two the next. You might have a job that pays you for a day but ends up taking three. Whether you sink or swim depends entirely on you. No pressure.
5. Balance is key.
It’s easy to become isolated as a work-from-home writer (which most are). You get in a groove and before you know it the summer is gone and your parents are calling to see if you’re still alive. There are times when the words just flow out of you as though you were merely a conduit, and good writers will take full advantage of these rare occurrences by sitting in front of the screen until they are exhausted.
But great writers know better. You have to have a balance in order to write on a schedule. You must sleep and eat regularly, get out of the house, plan activities and meetings with friends, and treat writing like a job, one that more or less has set hours. Setting up a regimen is the best way to ensure that when you sit down to write, you do it clear-headed, well-rested, content, and ready to work.
While writing can be a daunting and stressful way to earn a buck, it can also reward you in ways that no other career can. There is a lot to be said for running your own business, choosing when to work and who to work for, managing your own time, and producing content that is creative and interesting.
And you really can’t knock a profession that allows you to flex your mental muscles all day, every day. Because while you are virtually instructing others with your output, you are also learning new things and refining your skills. There is certainly satisfaction to be had from reaching the end of the day knowing that you have produced something of value, something that is entirely of you, and that your work is constantly expanding and improving.
And then there’s the fame and fortune that are bound to come to you one day…well, maybe you shouldn’t hold your breath on that one.