What I wish someone had told me about ‘freelance writing’

  1. I do not own rights to any of the images used.

Courtesy : Google images

The freedom that comes with being freelance is one that virtually everyone desires whether it be as a writer, model, graphic designer, data analyst etc. To work for more than one client at a time, at your own pace and at the end of the day rake in all the benefits.

“A dream come true.” One might say.

But as always, there are cons as there are pros, a yin to the yang.

Picture this scenario, you wake up in the morning and you are scrolling through twitter, you come across a celebratory post where someone is speaking of their accomplishments concerning being freelance. You may or may not hit the like button and then you go off twitter. A feeling of defeat and despair weighs over you and you start to ponder on the fact that you’re not achieving or haven’t achieved anything. Delete those thoughts once you start getting them.

Disclaimer: This article isn’t to motivate neither is it to tear down anyone. It’s just what the Gen Z’s call a tell-all.

Here’s what you don’t see on that handler’s tweet, you don’t see the rainy days or better still what they might be going through. All you’re seeing are celebratory posts. You’re not alone, that handler may have probably been in this same situation, emphasis on the probably. Without much ado, here are the things they didn’t tell you about freelance writing.

Rainy days:

Courtesy: Google images

Rainy days in this context refers to non- availability of writing jobs. If anyone ever told you that making it as a writer was as easy as boiling water then they just told you a joke which you didn’t get.

On some days you could wake up in the morning and go to bed at night without even getting an email not even a rejection one. As funny as this might sound, there are people out there who actually look forward to rejection emails, at least they know for a fact that the recruiting officer saw their CV.

The biggest con in being a freelancer is the lack of jobs and on days like these one might wonder what are they doing wrong and if they took a wrong route while coming to earth. On days like these, the rejection emails keep flooding in. You could stay up for days applying to every writing job out there wether it be technical writing or proofreading as an english teacher anything that just involves writing only to wake up the next day to more rejection emails.

Freelancers won’t tell you this but you will see beaming photos of them online with a tweet that says;

“If you just believe that you can do it, then you can.”

Followed by smiling and heart emojis.

On days like these, don’t cry yourself to sleep, keep applying to more jobs. You might not believe it but your employer is just around the corner.

Lack of investment from friends, family and the people around you:

Courtesy: Google images

There’s a saying that goes that the people that would make you rich are actually strangers. If you grew up in a typical African home, you may have gotten this pressure from either one or both of your parents to either be a lawyer, doctor or an engineer. But life happened and you took the path of a writer. Hope there are no regrets?

If you don’t believe in a lack of support, write a book and maybe your eyes would be opened.

In some movie industries like Nollywood, writers are looked down upon compared to any other body of production as we make up the pre-production stage. There are no movies without writers but unfortunately they make peanuts because the producers just see them as another version of a typist. They believe that writers just open their laptops and start checking if their keyboards are still functioning. What a great way for them to justify the little writers earn screenwriting.


Courtesy: Google images

Hello there freelance writer, have you had bad days? Did you want to give up? Did you consider why you chose such career path and not go with what daddy or mummy wanted which was engineering? Well, it happens to the best of writers out there followed by a writer’s block.

A wise woman once said, “It’s one thing to do what you love, it’s another to be paid for doing what you love.”

You read that first here.

On days when you are depressed, remember why you started. If you can’t remember, go for a walk, a long one or better still watch a funny movie. Depression like other emotions would wear out. Stop comparing yourself, a lot of people are faking it till they make it.

You are just a drop in the ocean:

Courtesy: Google images

Oh yes writer, you’re a drop in the ocean, a sand in the desert, a flower in the midst of other flowers, a —

Better to stop there but you get the point.

There are others like you out there. As much as there are people out there in your field, you’re better than some, are like some and the one you might not want to admit, some are better than you. Yeah there goes your spirit, down the drain.

These people have had decades of experience and practice. They know the ins and out but only experience and practice can get you to where they are, followed heavily by luck.

Yes, luck, you might want to sip some hot tea while reading this part.

The difference between hardwork and luck in the industry is that hard work can get you to the door but luck would open the next door.

A hard pill to swallow.

So build relationships as you go.

Get another job while chasing freelancing:

Courtesy: Google images

The truth is always bitter to take in but like it was written earlier in this article. No motivation, no downplaying. These are things you weren’t told.

There are closed doors in this industry and the longer the doors are closed, the more bills are piling up. Those bills won’t pay themselves.

If you grew up in an African home, you may have been told to chase another career path and dear writer, they did not lie. Writing is not very lucrative in some parts of the world and woe unto you if you’re from that part of the world.

So while chasing financial freedom as a writer, get a job that would make you the money then focus all your strength into writing. Focus on being part of the top 2% in the world.

J.K Rowling wouldn’t have been a billionaire today if she took those agent rejections to heart. There would be a lot of No’s but don’t take them to heart.

Oh there you go, I ended up motivating you.

Take up other forms of writing, don’t just stick to one. You need to build that CV. Copywriting, Content writing, Screen writing, Technical writing are good ways to grow as a freelance writer.

Reach out to brands and let them know what you have to offer, you never can tell, you could be signing a million dollar contract. Learn video editing, graphic designing and any other thing your hands can pick up. If you wish to learn vfx too, go ahead. Just don’t depend solely on one form of writing.

You could also turn your writing into a podcast or even direct a movie. You never can tell what you can do.

These are some tips that could help you scale through if you don’t want to just be a ghost in the shell. Like it was written earlier, you are just a drop in the ocean.

But make that drop count.

I do not own rights to any of the images used.