Freelance Writing: The Good, the Bad, and Nothing but the Truth

Freelance Writing: The Good, the Bad, and Nothing but the Truth


When I started freelance writing back in uni, I was solely doing it for money. And the money was good considering the circumstances at that time. I soon discovered that writing was enjoyable for me and that by learning a few things here and there, I could give my clients the essay, proposals, or research reports they wanted. 

But academic writing can be exhausting both physically and mentally, especially if you feel like you have a shot at creating a bigger writing career for yourself. And it’s even worse when disillusion kicks in and takes over.

Knowing that you have choices or other kinds of freelance writing that you can explore is so important at this point. The realization that I could take what I had going on and make it a full-time writing career did not come immediately, or I gave up too easily and even took a break. But here we are.

This article is a summary of the truths I’ve learnt about freelance or online writing in Kenya, both the good and the bad.

The Good

1. Many Options to Choose From

You can choose any type of freelance writing we talked about in the first week and even further down to a specific niche. Things like your hobbies, side interests, your job, and your educational background are ideal places to start when determining which areas you’re more likely to excel in and enjoy writing. 

If you go the web content writing way, you can choose to write for websites and blog sites only, learn to write for the social media sphere, work with e-commerce clients only for product descriptions, and many more.

2. Potential for Career Growth

Online writing can also open a whole new world of careers, some that don’t even have much to do with the written word. This is especially true for anyone in media and marketing communication.

The more you write for the web, the more you’re likely to know and understand the fundamentals of digital marketing. Over time, you might find yourself more interested in things like marketing or managing the content, more than writing itself.

3. Occupational Freedom

Freelancing in general gives you the freedom to create your own schedule, work with the employer you want, choose the types of tasks to work on, work from wherever you want, and so on. 

As a freelance writer, you get to take charge of your career growth by deciding all these and getting out there to make it a reality.

4. Working with Multiple and Different Types of Employers

If you’re the type of person that finds professional fulfillment in working with different people, then freelance writing will suit you well. Over time, I’ve found that this freedom you get to enjoy as a freelancer is good for developing relational intelligence skills and most importantly, for your career growth.

 For example, working for an individual blog owner who needs only two articles per week is a different experience from dealing with a marketing agency that provides content for multiple clients.

5. Content Writing is Here to Stay

As the internet continues to take precedence in the marketing world, so will the need for content writing. All types of marketing sum up to what the customers can see, read, or hear; and most of it includes the written word. 

There’s a debate of whether artificial intelligence (AI) will replace human writers and my answer is always a firm no. Sure, AI might impact the future of marketing, but it’s not taking the place of content writers any time soon.

The Not so Good

1. Getting Started can be Exhausting

When you’re starting to learn a skill that you have minimal or no experience in, the process can be exhausting sometimes. You’ve probably learnt how to do it through blogs like this one, YouTube classes, or even an online course.

While you understand all these fundamentals, the real test comes in when you actually start taking projects and applying these skills. 

Another problem you’re also likely to encounter as a beginner is finding clients to work with. While your writing skills can be sharp and your work outstanding, most clients will also want to see things like past samples or your past ratings on freelance job boards.

Starting can be slow and daunting because you’re still learning and expected to apply the same in your work. The good news is that it gets easier with time as you continue practicing so don’t give up yet. 🙂

2. Inconsistent Income

Someone referred to the freedom that comes with online writing as precarious and I couldn’t agree more. While you can make good, sometimes really good, money from this, you’ve to be prepared for the inconsistencies. Your monthly income is never going to be a regular amount. 

A client might reduce their workload or even close shop altogether, available projects might be inconsistent or pay low and sometimes, there’s always someone willing to take the work for less. Payment scheduling and processing might be different with your clients too, which may not align well with when you’re expected to pay your bills. 

This, however, tends to get easier as you take more projects and plan your finances accordingly.

3. You’re Accountable to Yourself

With such freedom comes great responsibility. You can create your own schedule, decide when and where to work, but it’s also all up to you to ensure that things actually get done. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. 

It’s up to you to plan your working hours, schedule your work so that you’re not taking more work than you can handle, organize your work, figure out when you’re most productive, and so on.

4. The Indoors can be Lonely

It goes without saying that working indoors on your screen every day and sometimes into the night will affect your social life. Working from home is not all that bad, especially for an introvert like me, but it can also become isolating.  

Remember to take a break now and then, change your working environment or even meet up with fellow freelance writers. Doing this can improve your productivity, creativity, expand your network, and instantly lift up your moods. There’s a weekly writers meetup that I learnt about on Twitter which can be a great place for you to start this.

Nothing but the Truth

This article is a summary of the pros and cons of online writing. It’s also mostly written with an aspiring Kenyan freelance writer in mind.

But when it’s all said and done, the truth about freelance writing boils down to the work that you come up with when you put pen to paper. This is where you should invest most of your time, including upskilling.

Your work will not be perfect, especially when you’re just starting. It can be discouraging. And you’ll be tempted to compare yourself, your profile, and your ratings with other writers who have been at it for a longer time. When you feel like this, try to focus more on your journey and things that you know now and didn’t previously know; your growth. 

Remember, it gets easier with time. 

When it comes to finances and the freedom to work from anywhere, never treat your freelance writing as a get-rich-quick or an easy route quick cash kind of venture. Because you’ll be disappointed in the end.

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