5 Wrong Ideas About Freelance Writers


Do you have the wrong idea about freelance writers?

Unfortunately, a lot of people do. Even some writers get the wrong idea about freelance writing. The amount of misinformation about freelance writing on the Internet is astounding.

Read on to find out some of the most common myths about freelance writing. You’ve probably run into some of these misperceptions yourself.

Wrong Idea #1. Freelance Writing Is Easy

This is probably the most common wrong idea.

I cringe every time I read one of those posts that claim that anyone can be a freelance writer. Or that a quality article or post can be written in 15 minutes or less.

I cringe because I know that somewhere out there someone is reading that and assuming that their very difficult project should take a writer no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

The truth is that good writing takes time. There’s more to it than just typing. A lot more.

Quality writing requires research, planning and revision. All of those steps take time. Sometimes, lots of it.

Wrong Idea #2. Most Freelance Writers Are Loners

I hear this one mostly from people who are completely unfamiliar with freelancing.

While for some writers I suppose this statement could be true, I don’t believe that it represents most writers.

For myself, I know that it’s definitely not true. I have normal friendships and relationships. I have a family. I interact regularly with others, both online and face-to-face.

The bottom line is that freelance writers are just like everyone else.

Wrong Idea #3. Freelance Writers Usually Pad Their Estimates

This goes hand-in-hand with wrong idea #1. Neither is true.

In fact, in my experience most freelance writers underestimate the amount of work. I know that I frequently underestimate projects and I hear from others that they do too.

Sometimes the problem is not having all the information. This may be because a client is misleading the freelance writer or because the freelancer doesn’t ask enough questions.

The other reason freelancers underestimate projects is more serious. It has to do with having a low self-esteem. If you don’t value your own work, how can you expect a client to place a value on it?

Read more about freelancers and low self-esteem in this excellent post on self-esteem from Diana Huff over at the International Freelancers Academy.

Wrong Idea #4. All Freelance Writers Have Big Egos

I actually had someone tell me that freelance writing is all about seeing your name in print. According to his line of thought, the pay is only secondary to getting a byline.

While a byline can be helpful when you are building your freelance writing portfolio, pay is the most important factor for most writers. That’s why writing for exposure usually isn’t enough.

The truth is that most freelancers, myself included, take on dozens of projects each year that they never receive credit for. Think about ghostwriting and corporate writing.

Wrong Idea #5. Freelance Writers Can’t Find Regular Work

When I first heard this, I was stunned.

Now I do know that there are those who turn to freelance writing out of desperation because they can’t find any other type of work. But I don’t think that’s the norm. Far from it.

Most freelance writers that I know are more than qualified to take on corporate writing positions or staff positions at a publication. Everyone has their own reason, but most of us have made the choice to be a freelance writer.

The reality is that freelance writing is hard. Competition is fierce. You have to be good at it if you are going to succeed.

What About You?

Have you harbored one of these wrong ideas about freelance writing? Can you think of any others?


  1. says

    I get #1 all the time, Laura. But once you explain to people what’s involved, they stop thinking it’s so easy anyone could do it. Number 5 is another one I get from time to time. I recently spoke to someone who was convinced that people can’t make a living from blogging and was willing to bend the facts (i.e I know several who do) to support his hypothesis.

  2. says


    Thanks for your comment. :) That’s great that people are giving you a chance to explain what’s involved.

    Number 5 seems to occur more often than I realized. I’m sure the fellow who said you can’t make a living at blogging was just making a guess based on his impression of blogs.

  3. says

    What drives me crazy is when someone says, “well, I’d write it IF I HAD TIME.”

    Such crap. There’s no such thing as “no time to write.” Write. Don’t write. It’s a choice. Own it.

    Those of us who make our living by writing show up and do it every day, whether we feel like it or not. It’s a “real job” and we deserve to be paid properly and on time just like the plumber and the brain surgeon.

  4. says

    Devon Ellington,

    Good to see you here. :)

    Yes, you are so right. It’s a job. You show up (virtually for us freelancers) and you do it.

    I had the frustration a few years ago of editing an online publication with several writers. One of them constantly gave the excuse of “not being inspired enough” for missed deadlines.



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