To be or not to be – A freelance writer

"Should I be a freelance writer?"

If you have this question, you surely want to begin your journey of freelancing – but uncertainty clouds your judgement. That’s exactly me, five years ago, when I had no idea what freelancing even meant. It was a winter morning in Calcutta when an acquaintance asked me if I wanted to be a freelance content writer.

"It’s a paid gig," she hurriedly added.

She was a connection from an internship that I was doing at the moment and I felt embarrassed asking the meaning of freelance. "Paid" did the trick for me, and I said yes. Later, I googled freelance. And that's how I was introduced to this fascinating world of churning out words at the age of 18.

Over the last five years, I have tried my hands on various niche – from health, fitness, lifestyle, glamour, to business, technology, marketing and branding. I have seen a very steep slope of growth too, in this industry, so I believe, I do have a few words of experience to share.

Here are some of my observations of the freelance content writing world that people rarely talk about:

Yes, you love writing. Yes, you think you know your niche. Yes, you have great typing speed. And yes, you’ve read/heard many freelance content writers saying that writing comes naturally to them. But this does not change the fact that it is a laborious work. Right from the research to final revision, a project goes through several modifications and you learn alongside writing. Sometimes you will take an angle of writing and realise it midway that it’s not working for your topic. Sometimes you will take time and great research to understand the tone of the project. All in all, just like every other work, content writing is hard.

I can type 70 words per minute (for now, but I’m improving), but I cannot write a 1000-words blog in ~15 minutes. Even after years of experience, every project demands a fresh start, in-depth research, new approach, and constant communication with the client. All these things take time. So, even if you see freelancing as a side-hustle (I too carried it on along with my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees), know that you have to dedicate ample time to it, for quality deliverables.

Freelancing, in general, can be exhausting. There will be short deadlines, low payment rates, rejected articles, long hours of burning the midnight oil, and unfortunately, moments of self-doubt and feeling stuck in a dead-end. Collectively, this exhaustion will also reflect on your work. And it requires perseverance and efforts to hit that sweet spot of less working hours, higher payment, regular work, and appreciative clients.

I mean, yes it is. As I mentioned earlier, "paid" did the trick for me. But five years down the line, I now know that it’s definitely not all about the money. Sure, you can get more than your pocket money while freelancing, but you have to be really passionate about it to make the best out of this world. By sparing enough time for every project, researching on all associated aspects, and reading more and more, you get closer to a well-written content piece while learning so many new things. If you are only here for the money and not the growth, you’re doing it wrong.

Fiverr. Upwork. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn content writing groups. Yes, they all work for getting you started, but it’s difficult to get quality clients in 2022. You cannot land up the best client just by logging in to these platforms. You need a zeal to learn, a body of work to show, and willingness to improve.

This blog reeks of pessimism so far, isn't it?

That's the thing about freelancing. It's not a bed of roses as the iPhones and MacBooks on freelance writers' pages show. But just because somebody says it's not a smooth ride, shouldn't mean that you don't give it a shot, either. Now, when you know of all the downsides of becoming a freelance content writer in 2022, there's barely anything that can surprise you, right? Brace yourself for all the difficulties that may come on this path, and then face the challenge, head on.

A freelancer – to be or not to be – it'll always be a mystery if you don't try to be.

P.S. - Freelancing made me financially independent at the age of 18, and it has been a long-standing support ever since. For any queries about freelancing, feel free to write to me at shreyag.content@gmail.com.

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Shreya G.

Shreya G.

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