Top 5 Disadvantages of a Freelance Writing Career

by Loolwa Khazzoom • November 28, 2010 • Writing and Editing Tips

True, there are lots of perks involved in the freelance life. But before you get all starry-eyed and launch yourself full-throttle into becoming the next great American author, get informed about the top 5 disadvantages of a freelance writing career. Here’s an unflinching look at what’s ahead:

1. You’re Always On 

Even when you’re not working, you’re working. While everyone else is kicking back and drinking beers at a music performance, you’re plotting how to turn the gig into an Arts & Entertainment piece for Spin. And though you’re cooing along with your baby while changing her diapers, half your mind is compiling The. Phattest. Ever. proposal for a book on motherhood.  Heck yeah it’s fun to mine your life for stories. But the flip side is that your life becomes your work, which means your brain is always churning.

2. You Have to Stay Motivated

No matter how many rejection letters you receive (and no matter how sensational you are, you’ll get a’plenty), it’s up to you to keep on keeping on. Nothing moves unless and until you take the initiative — identifying writing markets, developing story ideas, pitching article queries, following up with editors, writing stories, and taking care of all the administrative hassles. Out with self-doubt. You need a will of steel in this biz.

3. There is No Stable Paycheck

Some months you might make $6,000, and others you might zero. Money can be gushing in during one season, then inexplicably grind to a halt during another. Freelance writing is a fickle profession. Even when you’ve nailed five stories, editors may kill any or all of them for no apparent reason – leaving you with a mere 25% of the original fee. (And if you did the story on spec, you’re left with nothing.) Articles that go through also may be postponed by a few months, and you’re left waiting till the publication date. Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s often a pain in the a** to actually get periodicals to send the damn check, period?

4. There are No Benefits Packages

Unlike the corporate 9-to-5, freelance writing doesn’t come with a cushy medical & dental deal. While it is possible to find benefits that work for you (especially through writers groups like MediaBistro), you may end up paying more than you’d fork out as part of a group plan at work.

5. It’s a Solitary Lifestyle

Sure, you’ll get to rub elbows all kinds of fabulous folk while interviewing for stories. And yes, you can pretend to have a social life by writing at the local cyber-café (unless you can’t handle chatter in the background – then you’re, well, can’t help you there). But most of the writing life is all about you, your phone, and your laptop. When you’re not mixing & mingling with business associates, making friends becomes another thing to check off on your to-do list.

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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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