5 Myths About Freelance Writing

Updated on January 1, 2018
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Russell Fry is a highly experienced copywriter with millions of words and hundreds of successfully published articles under his belt.

You don't have to be a slave of content sites. Freelance writing should mean freedom!
You don't have to be a slave of content sites. Freelance writing should mean freedom!

1. I Have to Start at a Content Mill

This is a way too common misconception among new and seasoned freelance writers alike. When I first started out, it was very difficult for me to find anyone within the freelancing community who was willing to give any kind of useful help. This is one of the biggest problems when you want to become a freelance writer: no one really wants to help you.

Content mills like UpWork, Freelancer, and Constant Content, only to name a few, claim to help you in your freelancing career. This is not the case. They get paid from your content. So, of course, they want to sell you this dream of making $500 - $1,000 extra dollars in income monthly. From personal experience, it is almost impossible to make extra income writing for these sites. The pay is so low (.01 - .015 cents a word) that you will have to work longer hours than you would at any normal job.

The keys to becoming a truly successful freelance writer are:

  • Figure out what you topics you want to specialize in. It can be more than one area, but keep it to about five or six. More than that can bog you down.
  • Start reading daily about your chosen topics of expertise. Take notes. Watch YouTube Videos. Get books from the library. Never stop learning about those chosen topics.
  • Start writing about those topics in your spare time. This is so you can start to build material that you can use at a later date.
  • Save everything on Google Docs so that they are easy to access in case you are away from your personal laptop or computer. It also makes it easier to share with others.
  • Once you have collected about 20 - 30 high-quality articles, find websites like HubPages and display your work there. Google won't pay you for ads until you have at least 10 high-quality hubs up and running. And this is their general rule for Blogger as well.

It may seem like a long road ahead, but rather than writing for content mills, it is far better to spend that energy on creating your own content on sites like Hub Pages and get paid for ads. It's more rewarding to build a great reputation and help people through good information. There is a lot of crap out there. Be one of the good guys who wants to help others through your writing.


2. I'm Too Old to Start Freelance Writing

A new study published by Forbes shows that 55 million people are now freelancing. Not all of them are writers, though. Nonetheless, with 35 percent of America's workforce made up of freelancers and $1 trillion in revenue being made by them annually, freelancing is no longer simply a fad.

Twenty-eight percent out of that 55 million are Baby Boomers who have chosen to take the road to freedom. Now, twenty-eight percent may seem like a low percentage, but there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Baby Boomers are from a time when having a nine-to-five job was the safe way to go. They focused on college educations and climbing the corporate ladder.
  • Freelancing has been taken over by technology, which puts the younger generation slightly ahead of the game versus Baby Boomers.

When I started considering freelancing, I was thinking along the lines of, I am getting to old to sit around and slave away in some office somewhere. I am tired of commuting to work daily; missing out on my children's development; just plain tired of being sick and tired. I was thinking that I am too old to do anything but become a freelance writer. And that is how you have to look at it: you're too old to have someone 30 years old your junior bossing you around.

I may not be in the Baby Boomer category, but I am at that point where the mere thought of working another day cooped up in an office around strangers gives me a headache. People who are more seasoned have a wealth of experiences to share with the world. Why not turn that knowledge into money. All it takes is learning how to become a better writer if you are not one already.

3. I Need to Have a College Degree in a Specific Field or in Journalism

The answer to this myth is a clear one: No. You don't need any sort of education to become a great writer. Self-education is the best way to learn the ins and outs of writing. The fact of the matter is, most people who go to college to become a writer never do become writers (and this rings true for all kinds of degrees).

Holly Lisle who is an author of fiction novels wrote:

"They’ve been brainwashed by experts, by a system designed to create people who fit neatly into categories like ‘accountant’ and ‘nurse’ and ‘manager’. They’ve been trained to believe that the best education is an education that comes from sitting passively in a desk in an overcrowded room, being talked at by an expert."

She is straight on! There are certain jobs that naturally one should have a degree for, such as lawyer or civil engineer. These types of careers hold a lot of responsibility. Writing, too, holds a certain amount of responsibility also. As an Associated Press writer, you are expected, to be honest, forthright and have integrity in your writing (though most would agree the press has mostly lost sight of all that and more).

This is why there need to be more freelance writers - to fight against "fake news!"

4. Freelancing Allows Me to Make My Own Schedule

As a freelance copywriter (which is most likely what most people end up doing for the first year or so), you do not have the freedom to do as you wish. You have deadlines you must follow. If you choose not to work for several days in a row, don't expect to make enough money to pay your bills next week. Freelancing is exactly the same as owning your own business: if you don't open your doors for business, then business will go elsewhere.

I am writing full time - full time meaning longer than 40 hours a week. Before you write a project you first must research it. Then you have to take down notes from sources you find online. When all of that is done, you have to transform your notes and thoughts into words that make sense and catch the readers attention.

Being a writer is a full-time learning experience as well. As you are cramming to fulfill deadlines you are going to be trying to improve your style through online and video tutorials; e-books for touching up your grammar and writing style; and don't forget about HubSpot, which offers a free inbound marketing course with certificate.

There have been days I didn't sleep for 24 hours trying to complete enough projects to meet personal financial goals. What makes that kind of dedication easy is the fact that I'm in the comfort of my own home. Instead of one 30 minute lunch break, I can take a break whenever and however I please. If that is considered "making my own schedule," then there you go. Nevertheless, 24 hours is pretty crazy.

5. I Must Not Be a Good Enough Writer Because Some Samples Were Rejected

Rejections happen in all walks of life. They never truly signify that what is being declined is not good or worthy in someone else's eyes. There were plenty of times I was rejected by content mills. There were other times customers from content sites I worked for gave me a bad review for what seemed like no reason at all other than to be a jerk. Most of the time, though, I received five stars and compliments on my work.

There have been times when a client totally destroyed my self-esteem as a writer. Yet, all in the same day, another client went out of their way to search for me through social media just so they could deal with me directly. Being a freelance writer is a financial and emotional rollercoaster. You have to have tough skin or you will get burned out really quick. And that is the last thing you want to happen - to get burned out because someone was overly judgemental and caused you to doubt your own talent.

Did this article inspire you? Let me know about it.

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    • RussellFry profile image

      Russell William Fry 7 months ago from Indonesia

      @Heidi Thorne You are very welcome! I am glad you see where I am coming from on this matter.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 7 months ago from Chicago Area

      So agree that you need to own and control your content! Thanks for sharing your tips.

    • RussellFry profile image

      Russell William Fry 7 months ago from Indonesia

      @GalaxyRat I have received emails from people saying they feel they are too old to begin writing. So, I thought I would add that in this article...because, as you said, we have already been writing for decades. All we need to do is learn a certain style.

    • RussellFry profile image

      Russell William Fry 7 months ago from Indonesia

      @John Hansen, I have been sitting here for the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how to respond directly, but can't seem to find that option. Anyway, thanks for the comment. Readers support is very important in this industry.

      I experience the same things as you: sometimes on, sometimes off. But I would never trade it for anything else. I look at those who came before us. They do pretty well financially. Just like anything, this takes time and energy, along with much patience.

    • GalaxyRat profile image

      GalaxyRat 7 months ago from The Crazy Rat Lady's House

      Thanks for writing this! I wouldn't mind my own hours, however. I think no one is too old to start writing. I mean, everyone started doing it when you're in kindergarten!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a very good article. I am a part time freelance writer. I find some months I get so many gigs I have trouble completing them all (seem to all come at th same time), and other months there will be virtually no orders...but I enjoy the diversity of the requests I receive.