April 16, 2023
As a freelance writer, I get a lot of questions from friends and strangers when they find out what I do for a living. I thought I’d share some of the silly and serious freelancer FAQs I get about being a freelance writer, freelancing while working from home, whether all writers are struggling financially (um, no!), and the best time to make the leap to full-time freelancing–whether you’re a beginner freelance writer who’s just getting started or a seasoned side hustle freelancer looking for freelance help to take your business to the next level and earn $100 an hour freelancing.
Once you have these freelancer faqs answered, check out my freelance writing tips.
Nope. I wake up and change into workout clothes or shower and change into workout clothes in anticipation of possibly working out. Depending on what I have planned for the day, I’ll put on jeans or pants with a waistband. I find it helps me get into “work mode” to have a morning routine that sets me up for a productive day. (Psst: Making sure your jeans still fit is crucial when you don’t want to gain weight working at home.)
That being said, no judgment on what you’re wearing while you freelance. The work you do and your commitment to it is more important than what you wear while working.
Yes, people ask freelancers all the time, “How much do freelancers make?” (And no, I don’t ask that person their salary in turn.) In all honesty, I make more money freelance writing than I ever did when I worked full-time on staff at magazines. In this freelance writing blog post I share the daily rate goal I had for myself at that time a few years ago. This post shares what I did to become a six-figure freelancer for the past few years. These days (2022) I don’t worry about a daily rate but aim to earn an annual six-figure salary while working less than 20 hours a week. I’m able to do that by working with higher-paying clients and setting hourly freelance rates that help me achieve my goals.
As a freelancer, time is your most valuable asset. Make sure you use it wisely.
I usually watch TV shows while checking and responding to emails in the morning while my kids are getting their days started. Before having kids, I used to occasionally watch TV in the middle of the day when I’m not working but it’s rare and I usually would feel kind of guilty, like I should be doing something else. I find that going on a walk while listening to a freelance podcast helps me feel rejuvenated and creative. The exercise and break often helps me come up with new article ideas.
If watching TV or doing something passive and enjoyable helps you take a much-needed break from work that leaves you feeling refreshed, go ahead! I find that when I’m procrastinating writing something, I often need a little break. (And yes, naps help, too!)
I don’t think freelancers need a college degree, a graduate degree, or even a degree in a writing or communications field. In fact, I think high schoolers and college students can make great freelancers and enjoy some supplemental income while gaining valuable experience freelancing.
I do think you need to have a solid command of the English language and grammar (or whatever language you will be offering freelance work in) or a willingness to learn these skills in order to become a successful freelance writer for an English-speaking outlet. (If you want to get started as a freelance writer and are short on time, check out my weekend freelance writing course on Teachable.)
This question on how beginner freelancers can get published if they don’t have experience or freelance article examples comes up a lot and it’s a bit of the chicken or the egg dilemma. Editors and potential clients will want to see your writing samples before they give you work to do, but, you can start writing on your own and show samples of the types of articles you would write on your blog. Practice writing the type of freelance work you plan to do, whether that’s SEO article writing, copywriting, blogging, service journalism, or something else. You can even put these articles behind a wall that a client can access when you give them permission if you aren’t ready for the world to see your work.
Learn how to get started freelancing even if you have no experience with the tips in this e-Book.
I say yes! Why not? Or a stay-at-home dad. I’m a mom to two little kids and a fur baby who scaled her freelance business in recent years working about 10 to 15 hours a week. Some of the moms who are able to work from home as freelance writers told me that they hire babysitters to take care of their children while they’re working and either go work in a room with a door or leave their home in order to take work calls and get writing done. Feel free to reach out if you have questions about working from home as a parent and freelancing! I’m always pivoting and needing to find new ways to be flexible with my business and life as a mom but learning new hacks each day on how to make it work.
Don’t underestimate what freelancers can get done in 15 minutes to build your business.
I wish I could say I get paid direct deposit from every client as soon as I turn in my article, but that’s not the case. Some freelance clients pay me via PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, Waze, Bill.com, some pay directly into my bank account, and others via a check in the mail. There are a ton of apps for writers and freelancers that can help you get paid.
As a freelancer, it’s important to have a solid savings safety net in place because it can take months to get paid for your assignment sometimes. (I address the money decisions you should make before going full-time freelance in this blog post.)
It’s not necessarily the editor’s fault when payment is late; paperwork could get lost in the accounting and/or administrative departments. Make sure you know when you can submit and send an invoice, and how long it takes to get paid and note it in your accounting system. I use Google Sheets to keep track of assignments, freelance due dates, invoices out, and invoices paid. It’s simple but it works for me.
Some print magazine clients won’t submit an invoice until a magazine hits newsstands–a few months out–and then it could take 45 days to see your payment appear. I had one client that assigned stories about seven months out from the issue’s on-sale date, and then they didn’t pay until two months after it appeared on the newsstand. That’s nearly a year. I liked working with them, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth that ridiculous wait. (While I was earning $1 a word, the assignments were only 300 words so waiting nine months for $300 felt mentally draining at times. ) That first payment from a new client taking forever is one reason why I suggest freelancers don’t take one-off assignments.
Many of my freelance students have a ton of ideas but they’re not sure of where they can get published. Knowing where to pitch an idea is more complicated than it looks, but, simply put: do your research. Spend time determining the best outlet for your idea and write a pitch that editors want to assign. (Check out these magazine article pitch examples that sold!)
One freelance FAQ I get asked is whether I come up with article ideas first or editors come to me with the assignments they want me to write. Both happen pretty often!
I help students focus on the best magazine or website to pitch their article idea to in my course or with one-on-one coaching. This blog on how to find editors’ names to pitch to is one of the most popular freelance writing blogs on my site. (For examples of winning article pitches that got sold, check out my PDF “20+ Pitches That Worked.”)
No! Don’t jump ship and quit to freelance if you don’t have experience, clients lined up, and on retainer, unless you are a trust-fund baby. People tell me all the time that they want to quit their jobs because they hate what they’re doing, they don’t like their boss, they’re bored, they hate their commute, and they think freelance writing and working from home in their pajamas and not answering to a boss will be the answer. (As many of you learned while working from home during the pandemic, working from home has its benefits but isn’t as enjoyable as it looked from the outside.)
I love being a freelance writer and I want you to be able to earn a great salary freelancing and doing work you love. But, it took me nearly a decade to make the leap to do this full-time and be able to make a living in NYC on a freelancer’s salary. (Check out my freelance coaching services for one-on-one help and guidance to earn a higher freelance income.)
If you want to get started freelance writing, start it as a side hustle.
Ahh taxes, the bane of many freelancers’ existence (other than clients that don’t pay!). I’m not an accountant or tax expert so I recommend you find one if you’re freelancing to answer your freelancer FAQs for taxes. Some quick and dirty advice (for Americans) if you’re new to freelancing and curious about your taxes:
Factor taxes into your rates. In 2023, I paid a $5,000 “self-employment tax.” Also, in the US we are taking on taxes and payments that an employer would if you worked for someone else full time. Keep that in mind before you take on a low-paying freelance assignment.
Check out this tax tips for freelancers guide for more information you might want to bring up to your accountant.
Here’s what seasoned freelance writers wish they knew when starting out.
Tags: article ideas, article writing advice, freelance course, freelance rates, freelance writer, freelance writing course, freelance writing online course, freelance writing tips, freelancing, how to make more money, money, six figure income, writing advice, writing rates
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