10 Ways to Tell if You’re Really Cut Out for Full Time Freelance Writing

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So you think your ready to take the plunge from part time to full time freelance writing. Congratulations. Leaving the day job to work full time as a freelance writer is a big, no,  a HUGE step. Before making any decision that will affect your livelihood, be sure you’re prepared for such a dramatic change in your career – and your lifestyle.

If you’re mulling it over, here are:

Ten Ways to Tell if You’re Really Cut Out for Full Time Freelance Writing

1. You have money in the bank

Nothing is guaranteed. Clients might promise work, but sometimes those promises fall through. Websites might also guarantee you a certain amount of work each month, but they go under. Are you prepared to go several weeks with earning any money? Will the lack of cash flow affect your family and home life? Every single freelancer has the best of intentions, but the truth is, it doesn’t always happen the way we wish. Spouses are laid off, clients lose funding and other factors can keep you from working. The recommendation is to save at least six months’ income before giving it all up to freelance.

2. You have clients

If you’re going to leave your job, don’t do so unless you already have some clients lined up. There are thousands of other freelancers looking for work at the same time as you and it’s naive to think you’ll land a gig immediately. Line up your clients first, build up trust and a good reputation, and then quit your day job

3. You’re squared away with healthcare

Healthcare is a major issue facing freelancers today, especially affordable healthcare. Hopefully your spouse is covered and this is one less thing to worry about, but what if she isn’t?  Before you give up a good job with good bennies, understand that you will have to work harder to pay for healthcare. Family plans cost anywhere between $200 and $1000 per month. Can you afford the deduction?

4. You have a quiet space to work

Freelance writers are portable. We’re mobile. We can take our laptops everywhere. However, there are times we need to sit somewhere behind a closed door to do our work in peace and quiet. Designate a quiet space to work away from the hustle and bustle of your home life, it’ll make all the difference in the world.

5. You have the ability to work independently

In theory, being your own boss seems like a wonderful idea. Not everyone is cut out for this type of work though. Not everyone can work every day and meet deadlines without a supervisor standing behind them for motivation. It’s hard. It’s hard to stay focused and hard to keep away from all the distractions at home. It’s hard to stay offline and away from the television. It’s hard to not get up every five minutes to raid the fridge or get another cup of coffee. There will be projects you love and projects you hate but you have to do them all with equal passion. It’s not as glamorous as it looks, be sure you’re ready for it.

6. You’re OK without camaraderie

Working at home is lonely, even with kids. There are no grownups around to talk to. No co-workers to share gossip or go out to lunch with. Sometimes you want to be around people and can’t. Before you leave your job, ask yourself if you’ll really be OK working at home alone every single day.

7. Your family and friends respect your time

If you work at home, will your friends and family call you all the time? If you ask them not to bother you during working hours, will they listen? Will the people at home understand when you tell them you have a job or will they think that because you’re home your door is always open for coffee and babysitting? Be sure you can lay down the ground rules and people will listen.

8. You’re aware of all the rules regarding freelancers and taxes

So you know you have to save money from each pay check to pay taxes, right? And you know you might have to pay quarterly right? Do you know all the rules regarding freelance taxes? Be well versed on it all before leaving your job so you know because you’ll need to prepare right away.

9. You have drive

There’s more to freelance writing than writing. There’s marketing, customer service, bookkeeping and job hunting and you have to stay on top of most of it every single day. You have to have drive and ambition.

10. You understand what you’re getting into

Read all the above and understand everything involved with working independently from home. Read blog posts and articles and let it all sink in. We’re all saying the same things because it’s true. Working at home is lonely, it takes commitment and dedication, and it’s feast or famine. Think about it and prepare for all scenarios.

Though most of us wouldn’t trade our lifestyle for anything, there are plenty of times when it’s difficult to do what we do. Understand what it’s all about and what’s entailed, and then you can think about quitting your day job.



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5 responses
  1. Jennifer L Avatar

    This is perhaps one of the absolute best posts you have ever had on this site. I nodded along in agreement to all of it, and I think it should be required reading for all wanna-be freelancers.

  2. Genesis Avatar

    Great post and so true. Unfortunately, I followed none of these when I started freelance writing! It was more of a falling into it kind of thing since I’d left my job to look after my son who was born with health issues. I was sick of being home with nothing to do except feed a baby, change diapers and wash clothes, so I turned to writing. I didn’t even have internet access . . . I left my baby with my husband for an hour a day while I went to an internet cafe to look for jobs. Your way is definitely better! 🙂

  3. Cheril Vernon Avatar

    Great post, I agree. I would love to work at home full-time but healthcare is standing in the way presently.

  4. RIchard Webber Avatar
    RIchard Webber

    Well written post. It gives one a true sense of what is involved. Being new to the writting scene, it is nice to see the reality of it spelled out. Now where do I start?

  5. Sam Spade Avatar
    Sam Spade

    I never cared working with people. I have been working at home for a few years now and I love it. Plus, I have the greatest supervisors in the world: our two cats.

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