When I started writing for money, I fell for a lot of myths. It’s embarrassing, and nobody needs that in their life. Congrats, you’ve got me to make sure you don’t fall into the same false mindset I called home for so many years. These 7 myths about freelance writing might not keep you up at night, but they still get in the way of the money-making success I know you can be.
Whenever I say “writing for money,” I feel like some Medieval poet sneaking verses to a book dealer or something shady like that. I watch too many PBS Masterpiece. It’s an addiction.
Let me start you off with some of my favorite past blog posts about freelance writing:
Now that we got the housekeeping out of the way, let’s dive into it.
Myth 1: You need a degree to write.
If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I’d be able to quite writing marketing articles and commit to my lifelong dream of writing smutty romance novels for fun. You. Do. Not. Need. A. Degree. This is true of most things (except astrophysics maybe), but especially of freelance writing.
If you can write, you can get paid to write. That being said, it definitely HELPS/ to have a degree. If you do have a degree in anything related to writing like communications, journalism, whatever, that definitely comes in handy. Don’t even get me started on how much I love my English major.
To answer the degree question once and for all: no, you don’t need a degree. You do, however, need the following:
- Natural writing talent or the willingness to learn
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and more PRACTICE
- Strong understanding of grammar, spelling, and self-editing
- Efficiency in writing quickly
Myth 2: You have to start with content mills.
Anyone who’s ever suffered through an endless list of client “requirements” only to get paid a few cents a word knows this pain. Content mills, for those of you blissfully unaware, are where companies go to purchase articles and page content for their websites at an extremely low price. These might seem like a good way to get initial experience, but they a race to the bottom.
The pay is crap. The clients treat writers like crap. It’s not a good time.
That being said, I started building my experience on these platforms. Did I make a lot of money? No. Did I work on a few quality, decent projects? Yes. I also learned about client expectations, the importance of working quickly, and how to research new topics. These are vital skills.
If you’ve got some free time and want to get your feet wet, by all means try a content mill. But be sure you’re focusing on other, better paying opportunities as well.
Myth 3: You need writing experience.
Like the myth about degrees, a lot of newbie freelancers mistakingly think they need years of content writing experience to land a paid gig. Not true. As long as you have relevant samples and show you’re competent, you’re in good standing to get clients’ attention.
When I first started, I was still in college. I had no professional writing experience, and it didn’t matter. Trust me, you’ll be fine without it.
Myth 4: It’s easy to make money freelancing.
I’m hysterically laughing just thinking about this myth. When I first started back in “the day,” I was sure freelancing was my ticket to the big bucks. Let me just tell you I had no idea what I was on about! Not only is freelancing hard work, but it’s not easy money.
Now that I have a strong list of clients, it’s much easier. But in the beginning? It was literally a free for all, sing or swim bonanza of confusion. Freelance writing is a constant hustle for new gigs, new projects, and well-paid projects.
Do not be a freelancer if you want a consistent job with structure. While you can build some structure yourself, this will not be like any in-person job. You’ll be responsible for landing gigs and getting them done on time.
Myth 5: It’s impossible to earn a living as a freelance writer.
Along with Myth 4 comes the complete opposite. I am living proof that you can make a living as a freelance writer since that currently pays my bills. Sure, I get some blogging money too, but that’s hardly my full salary.
If you’re targeting low-quality, crap pay clients, then yeah it’s hard to earn a living wage. On the other hand, if you’re being picky and choosing projects worth your time, you can quickly earn more than what you need to survive.
A lot of 9-5ers like to talk down about freelancing. They’ll tell you it’s not a legit career, and that it’s a waste of time. It’s honestly not. By 2027, freelancers are expected to make up half the workforce. That doesn’t sound like a waste of time to you, does it?
Myth 6: Freelance writing doesn’t take much time.
This is both true and false. Honestly, it’s up to you. If you only take one or two small projects, then it might not take much time. In my experience, it’s a legitimate full-time job in which I put in 5+ hours a day.
When you build up your experience and portfolio, you’re able to have more freedom in what you charge and who you work with. That might mean charging more and taking on fewer projects. Until then, your workload is up to your clients. Usually it follows the expected formula of more clients/projects = more income, so you’ll be working up a storm.
I love freelancing because it means I can work from anywhere on my own schedule. That also means I work when I travel, and I don’t have many traditional “days off.” I don’t exactly have more free time, but I am more flexible with my time.
Myth 7: There’s no job security in writing.
This is all coming back to the negative perception about writers out there. From the days of Shakespeare to now, people don’t exactly take writers seriously. I can tell you for sure that as long as people read, there is job security for writers.
Maybe you can’t make a living writing
That demand is only getting stronger.
Happy freelance writing!
There you have it,
The world needs more writers. Are you one of them?
“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.”– Sylvia Plath