ABCs of Freelance Writing: M is for Myth
Freelance writers that pretend the business is impossible to break into are full of it. My guess is they’re probably just worried their clients will like you better. That, or they’re afraid they won’t be able to sell you a spot in their next tell-all webinar if they let on how, you know, possible it is to write for money.
Thankfully, most freelancers are supportive people who don’t mind sharing what they’ve learned along the way. Despite this openness, though, I still find that many wannabe freelancers believe things about the biz that just aren’t true. If you’re hesitant about breaking into the wonderful world of freelance, I hope this post is just the kick in the tail you need.
6 Common Freelance Writing Myths
You might as well believe in gnomes as believe these myths. Seriously.
- Real writers start out writing obituaries. Someone actually said to me, “But don’t I have to pay my dues writing obituaries first?” Um, no. I mean you certainly can if you feel that living out this Hollywood cliché suits you. But you don’t have to write for newspapers at all if you don’t want to.
- Freelancing equals free time. It’s not all coffee shops and laptops, particularly if you want to pay the bills with your writing. Also, sometimes you have to get showered and dressed to meet clients. However, you can still plan for the fun stuff without begging your soulless boss for time off. So, that’s cool.
- Freelance writers should never publish their rates. A few months ago I was chatting with a colleague who lamented wading through an endless stream of contact form submissions. “Half these people shrivel like the wicked witch in a bathtub when I give them my freelance rate anyway,” he said. “It’s really wasting my time wading through this stuff.” He balked a little over my suggesting he add a rate page on his site. There is some sense of “ZOMG! But my rates are sacred!” among freelancers, but publishing fees for standard projects before the client even contacts you is an effective way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Freelancers need a second degree in accounting. I’m not a numbers girl, but I do my own taxes with nothing more than an English degree and some user-friendly software. Keep track of your income and expenses as you go, and life will still be manageable at tax time. Plus, you can always hire a tax expert if you’re too terrified to go it alone.
- Freelance writers must have a niche. I’ve been at this part-time freelancing thing for years, and I still don’t have a niche. Now, I’m not saying that a niche wouldn’t help me some, particularly if I wanted to take this full-time. But you can keep your options wide open and still be a successful writer. Don’t sit on the sidelines because you don’t know what your specialty is yet.
- Freelancers have to be topic experts to land jobs. I want to tell you a little story. It’s a really short one: I don’t have kids, but I have written numerous articles on potty training. If you can research a topic, you’re in good shape. In fact, you’re more likely to write a better piece when you’re not mistaking what you know for common knowledge.
So that’s it, six common freelance writing myths debunked. Have you heard any other freelancing stories that you suspect aren’t really true?