The Definition of Freelance Writing

A guest post by Charlotte Bumstead

“Freelance writing isn’t for everyone.” These wise words were offered to me from my university professor after graduation. And it’s something I have struggled with ever since. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. Sure, I had my moments as a child when I would dream of being a veterinarian or wonder what it would be like to be CEO of a large company. But I would always return to the freelance writerwords. They’re my safety net; my umbrella on a rainy day. To me, everything in life is made clearer and more manageable once it is written down. Little did I know, making a living out of the words would be much more complicated. And such survival tips weren’t exactly part of the required curriculum for earning my degree.

Many of the professors of my program were freelance writers who taught on the side. Perhaps for some, this is a planned career path, but I was aware the possibility of needing a double income was a risk I was taking in entering this field. Still, it did not deter me. The reward in following my passion and fulfilling a creative lifestyle has always been beyond dollar signs, in my eyes.

I decided to take the freelancing route because I really liked the idea of being my own boss and working my own hours; from wherever in the world I happened to be. I was aware this meant climbing a different type of ladder—one that could quite possibly collapse when I reached the fifth (or twenty-fifth) rung. But then I would find a new ladder, and apply my climbing experience as developed from the previous one. So eventually, with a little skill and a lot of determination, I would reach the top.

When people ask me what I do and I tell them I am a freelance writer, I tend to get a mix of reactions. Often I can hear the sympathy in their replies as they say, “oh, good for you,” or “wow, that’s got to be tough.” It’s true—the field is super competitive, and no, I don’t have a guaranteed paycheque that gets automatically deposited into my account every two weeks. Of course, all jobs have their pluses and minuses. And as I make my way along, carving my own path, I am constantly redefining what it takes to be a freelance writer. I thought I’d share some of the descriptions I’ve learned so far:

A Freelance Writer Is Ready For Anything

It’s important to be open to new opportunities and unpredictable possibilities. Today you might be writing about the top ten dog parks in Tennessee; but tomorrow your writing could change the world. You never know who will be reading your work, or who you might end up meeting for coffee the next day.

A Freelance Writer Controls His Own Results

Whether you’re a procrastinator or a go-getter—you decide—it is you who will see the effects of your choices firsthand. Work hard and put your greatest effort into every assignment to find the best results.

A Freelance Writer Does Whatever It Takes to Get By

This might mean taking on a second job when struggling to find new clients, or it could mean waking up two hours earlier to find time to write before heading to your 9 to 5. No one is going to hand over work to make life easier for you. If you want to be a writer and you have bills to pay or a family to feed, you might need to pick up a part-time gig on the side here and there, or give up the reality TV and spend the free time at your computer instead.

A Freelance Writer is Constantly Learning

As you continue to grow and improve, there will always be new challenges and fresh experiences. Take advantage of the wealth of information offered to you from everyone you meet and everything you read.

A Freelance Writer Lets Her Creativity Shine

Personally, I am happiest when in an artistic and inspired state of mind. It is a writer’s job to soak up every experience and share it with the world. Those amazing moments (both big and small) that really struck you as something special—chances are someone else will think they’re special too.

So yes, it’s true, freelance writing isn’t for everyone. But if you decide it is right for you, then you’re definitely in for a thrilling ride.

Charlotte Bumstead Charlotte Bumstead is a freelance writer and blogger, covering a wide-range of topics, including: environmental, health, entertainment, technology and finance.

You can find her blog and portfolio on her website, or follow her on Twitter @c_bumstead.


About Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author specifically for Emily Suess and Suess's Pieces. If you would like to pitch a guest post, contact Emily.
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  • Susane

    Hi Charlotte,

    Thanks for the fresh perspective on what freelance writing means. I have been contemplating this career choice for a while and I still feel attracted to it, although deciding to quit the day job feels challenging.

    • http://www.charlottebumstead.ca carlybumstead

      Hi Susane,

      Sorry for the late response. It’s definitely a vulnerable feeling– deciding to quit the day job to freelance full time. Some people feel more comfortable easing into it; perhaps by making some writing connections through part-time freelance work and going from there. Either way, I wish you all the best in your decision!

      -Charlotte