I admit that when the concept of freelance writing first took hold, I tried to research the feasibility by reading such articles. That was a huge mistake. First, it was procrastination. I wasn’t jumping in and doing any writing because I was too busy reading about the journey others took. Second, only one or two out of dozens had anything constructive to say.
Before you click on the next “How I Make $10,000 a Month Working Ten Hours a Week,” type article, ask yourself, why is the author taking the time to share this information with you? If I only worked ten hours a week while making over 100k a year, I think I could find better things to fill my days than giving away my “secret six easy steps.”Do you genuinely think that there are so many altruistic people out there desperate to share the magical shortcuts they have found to succeed?
The answer should seem obvious. It isn’t altruism. These writers are creating this type of content because there is a large audience for it, and they are attempting to monetize that in some way. There is nothing wrong with that, but it should make you question whether it is as easy as they make it sound.
The Truth About Freelance Writing
As with most things in life, being truly good at writing takes work and practice. So much practice. It also takes an insatiable desire to learn because as soon as you nail down one aspect, the industry will shift, and there will be new things to learn.
People will hurt your feelings. Whether you are trying to monetize a personal blog or specialize in content marketing, there will be people who do not like your writing style. If you are thin-skinned and find it painful to have your mistakes pointed out to you, you may want to consider another career choice.
You will fail. You will set goals for yourself and then fail to reach them. There will be days, plenty of days, when you wonder why you ever thought a career as a freelancer was a good idea. I will share one secret from my own experience that I think is common to the human experience. I have learned more from my failures than from my successes.
You will redefine success. After doing so much reading about how others had found success by making a gazillion dollars in six months, you will look up one day and realize that money isn’t the only measure of success. It isn’t even the most important one.
Success will mean different things for different people. I earn a decent income while still having the flexibility to work from anywhere, which is a huge part of my definition of success. Most days, I love what I do and enjoy the time I spend writing. That is success for me.
There are also little victories. Landing the one client, you have worked hard for, raising your rates and finding people are still willing to pay you, leaving your laptop at home for a week, and having a business when you come back add up to the overall pleasure I take in the path I have chosen.
It isn’t easy, and there are days when I could write a sour expository over why no one should ever attempt to freelance. Fortunately, those days are becoming rarer as I scale my business to suit my definition of success.
Looking for Shortcuts is Wasted Effort
One hard lesson I learned was that some things are not worth the effort. Chasing shortcuts to making money was one of those things. There is no substitute for the grind of paying your dues, networking, stepping outside your comfort zone, and treating each failure as a learning opportunity.
I am not saying that there are no overnight sensations out there. People who had one article go viral and found a way to ride that wave to some semblance of success, but it is rare. The one thing that everyone I know that can write well has in common is that they write a lot, and no matter how good they are at their craft, they are still learning.
None of this is to say that you can’t learn from the stories and experiences of others. It is meant as a cautionary tale for those who believe the hype about how “easy” it can be. If it is easy, there would be little opportunity left as everyone with internet access would be living their best life while working ten hours a month.
The freelance opportunities are out there in a wide variety of sectors, and the new gig economy isn’t going anywhere. At least I hope it doesn’t, as I have become attached to this way of life. I want to encourage those who have read all the articles about easy ways to make money online to give up that pie in the sky dream.
Instead, go back to what you know from life. Everything worth having takes effort, and you don’t need anyone else’s “secrets.” Instead, have the courage to discover your own.