The One Question to Ask Yourself BEFORE You Become a Freelance Writer



So, you want to be a freelance writer.

That’s great. Freelance writing can be a rewarding career choice. I should know.

I moved from a technical communication department twelve years ago to freelance writing and I’ve never looked back. Freelance writing has been good to me.

Unfortunately, some people become freelance writers for all the wrong reasons.

In this post, I discuss the one question every would-be freelance writer should ask. I also examine the possible answers.

Before you commit to freelance writing, you should ask yourself one very important question:

Why Do I Want This?

Be totally honest when you answer.

Your honest answer to that question may determine whether you’ll be happy as a freelance writer. It may even determine your success.

While everyone will answer the question differently, there are some “good” answers to the question and some “not so good” answers. Let’s look at some examples of each.

5 Bad Answers

If you became a freelance writer for the wrong reasons you may be disappointed. That’s because freelance writing will probably fall short of your expectations.

Here are five “not so good” reasons for becoming a freelance writer and the reasons why they may lead to disappointment.

  1. You’re looking for a quick way to get rich. Freelance writing is not a ticket to fast money for most writers. If you’re expecting freelancing writing to make you rich, you’re bound to be disappointed.
  2. You believe that freelance writing will be less work than a traditional job. Many new freelance writers believe writing doesn’t take much work. They’re wrong. Expect to work a full day if you want full-time income.
  3. You want to become famous. The truth is you probably won’t become famous as a freelance writer. At least not household name famous, although your target audience should get to know you a little better.
  4. You don’t want to have to deal with people. Dealing with people is a life skill for nearly every profession and freelance writing is no different. Expect to deal with clients, other freelancers, and even your readers.
  5. You want to write only about things you are interested in. Occasionally you may be lucky enough to get an assignment that you are really interested in. But many gigs will require you to write on unfamiliar and even uninteresting topics.

There are better answers to the question. Let’s look at some of those.

5 Better Answers

There are also some good reasons for wanting to be a writer. Here are five of those reasons:

  1. You are good at writing and you want to make that skill into a profession. You should leverage your talents and interests to earn a living. If you love to write and are good at it you should be able to earn a living as a writer.
  2. You are committed to spending a lot of time on your craft. The idea of getting rich in just a few minutes through writing is just not realistic. Successful writers spend a lot of time on projects and on improving their skills.
  3. You want to inform or educate others. Writing is a great way to get information out. As a writer, you have an opportunity to reach people you would never interact with otherwise. Use that opportunity responsibly.
  4. You love the way writing allows you to learn about new things. One of my favorite things about being a writer is that I am always learning. I’m learning about my clients, the topics I write about, and about writing itself.
  5. You want better control of your career path. In a traditional job, your career path is determined by which jobs are available and by what others decide. As a freelance writer, what you achieve is ultimately up to you.

Your Turn

I think many writers begin freelance writing with unrealistic expectations.

Hopefully this post got you thinking realistically about your decision to become a freelance writer. You may have also learned something about yourself.

How did you answer the questions? Did you have more good answers than bad answers? What did I miss?

  1. Absolutely true! My reasons are… all of the above 5 “good” reasons, but mainly that I just can’t be happy doing anything else. I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and when I work for someone else Monday thru Friday 8-5 I feel miserable and like I’m wasting my life sitting in an office all day, going nowhere.

    As a freelance writer I feel like I actually have control over my own life. It’s very hard, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s what I need to do, and I love it 🙂

    • Hi KeriLynn,

      Thanks for sharing your reasons for wanting to be a freelance writer as well as your experiences working for someone else.

      It sounds like you are on the right track as far as motivation goes. 🙂

  2. Hi Laura,

    Agree with the majority of the better answers, particularly the learning about new things. I love reading, and have had the pleasure of researching everything from growing marijuana to welding cars over the years. I love that writing gives me an excuse to read, read, read!

    If I’m honest, the only reason I wanted this in the first place was to give me more flexibility with my family. I thought that, if I could make it, it would be a nice supplementary income for the team while allowing me to be a better mummy. As it is, I’m now earning more than my husband and would never, ever give up my writing.

    Good luck to new writers out there. It can be a tough old game but is so rewarding once you get there.