What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Freelance Writer?

Freelance writers use their writing and research expertise to write on a variety of different subjects. While being a freelance writer is a great career for some, this field has benefits and drawbacks. Read on to learn more. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Freelance Writing Defined

If you work as a freelance writer, you produce and sell written content to magazines, advertising agencies, book publishers and more. This usually occurs on a per-piece basis, although some freelance writers have contracts with publishing companies to produce multiple articles, stories or other works. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field tends to draw many entrants, so you could face heavy competition for jobs (www.bls.gov). Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of this career.

Important Facts About Freelance Writing

Median Salary (May 2014) $58,850 (all writers and authors)
On-the-Job Training Several years before becoming published
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 3% (all writers and authors)
Similar Occupations Editor, public relations specialist, technical writer

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Advantages

To become a freelance writer, you will probably need some training in the field, usually in the form of a bachelor's degree in journalism or English. Once you have obtained this training and entered the job market, you could find several advantages.

Flexible Work Hours

Because freelance writers are paid for what they produce, they can work whenever they find it convenient. This could be to your advantage if you enjoy setting your own schedule or working odd hours such as in the middle of the night. You will also be able to take on as much or as little work as your schedule will allow.

Business-Expense Deductions

As a freelance writer, you will probably be classified as self-employed by the IRS. Many times, this will allow you to take business-related deductions on your taxes, usually related to a home office. There are many rules governing which deductions you'll qualify for, though, so you may wish to research carefully or consult a professional.

Freedom to Pursue Personal Interests

If you work as a freelance writer, you would have the freedom to accept assignments you find interesting. You would also be able to propose pieces on topics you enjoy or sell the works you've created on topics that interest you.

Disadvantages

While freelance writing can be rewarding, the BLS notes that it can also be stressful. Even with self-motivation and self-discipline, you could still be susceptible to some of the disadvantages of the career.

Inconsistent Work Flow

You may find plenty of work as a freelance writer, but you may also experience dry spells. Since your services are on a per-piece or contract basis, you'd probably need to search for work fairly often to ensure that you'd make enough money.

Long Hours

Many freelance writing projects come with deadlines, and you may find yourself putting in long hours in order to turn a piece in on time. The BLS also notes that these extended periods of work, many times conducted on a computer, can bring on fatigue and bodily strain.

Lack of Benefits

As a self-employed worker (independent contractor), you'll be responsible for obtaining your own healthcare insurance. You'll also be responsible for withholding money from your income to pay taxes; the self-employed do not have money taken out of every paycheck for taxes like regular employees do.

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