The Joys and Pitfalls of Being a Freelance Writer

Freelance opportunities are nothing new. History dates freelancing back to the early 1800s, when mercenaries could be hired to fight for whoever would pay them the most. Today, there are an estimated 1.57 billion people who work as a freelancer.

Among the most popular jobs undertaken by freelancers is writing. From YouTube video scripts to articles like the one you’re reading, millions of freelancers place fingers on the keyboard each day to create unique content that captures readers’ attention.

Working as a freelance writer is an exciting career that can lead to exposure to many interesting topics. Like all jobs, however, there are highs and lows stemming from various factors that also apply to other freelancing gigs.

Location and Time

One of the overwhelming benefits of freelancing is the ability to work from wherever and whenever you want to. This flexibility provides a level of freedom that traditional employment cannot match. Writers, in particular, can benefit from this by spending as many hours as they want while typing away in a coffee store, home office, or even at a beach promenade.

These benefits do, however, come with a downside. In many instances, freelance writing jobs are conducted with companies that may be in a different locale than you. While the benefit of being able to work remotely remains, working across time zones can be a learning curve and take some getting used to.

Should your employer reside in a different time zone, it may mean they are waking up to a workday as you’re hoping to log off for the night. This could lead to late working hours should you need to stay online to speak with the employer or if a deadline (in your employer’s time zone) suddenly appears.

While balancing different time zones and deadlines, you must also make sure to allocate enough time to everything else. With other possible clients, family and friend commitments, and any other activities you may indulge in, it is imperative to find a careful balance of time spent on each.


Many freelance writers contract with multiple clients in various locations. Each client may work in different industries and require content specific to their sector. As such, writers may be required to research a wide range of areas and topics to complete their writing briefs.

Among the greatest joys of writing is discovering new and interesting topics you may need to uncover while conducting this research. From which cash machine slot has paid out the highest amount to the inner workings of an internal combustion engine, there is plenty to learn and be exposed to.

One pitfall in this regard is that you may be required to write on topics you may not be comfortable with or have little interest in. While this can commonly be ignored if it is a single project, it can become tedious when you are repeatedly required to write about subjects like this.


Being a freelancer comes with minimal overheads. Despite the cost of your PC being high initially and having to pay monthly for access to the internet or services like Grammarly (should you require it), there are few other things to pay. This paves the way for you to make high returns on your work.

When working with clients from other countries, this is particularly true. When paid using a currency with a higher exchange rate than your local currency, you could earn more for a job than expected.

However, this could also work against you. Should your local currency be stronger, you will lose money when paid. Alternatively, if your client pays you using your local currency, you may earn less than if they pay you using the primary currency of their location.

Social Interaction

Often overlooked by freelance writers is their social interaction with others. This, however, is a catch-22 with two polar opposite dynamics.

When working with new clients online, social interaction is of the utmost importance, particularly when outlining the scope of the contract and expectations from both ends. This interaction may commonly continue during the contract and as work is submitted, requested, or amended.

Interaction with clients can lead to interesting conversations, especially when you and the client are from different geographical regions, backgrounds, or cultures. For long-term clients, relationships can easily begin to form, where the working dialogue is often interspersed with personal conversation reminiscent of that between friends.

On the other end of the spectrum is the glaring lack of social interaction. While you may start your day by speaking to family and having a catch-up session with a client, the majority of your day will include little interaction with others.

Even when family members, roommates, or friends return home, you may still be working on completing content and may not want to be disturbed. Over time, this can lead to a strong feeling of loneliness and a desire for more interaction.

Worse still, this lack of social engagement can lead to bouts of procrastination. While researching a topic, clicking on social media platforms or streaming services like YouTube may be easy. When this happens, it requires a degree of self-control to refocus and ensure you continue getting work done.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

It would be remiss not to mention the use of AI by freelance writers. Since AI has become commonplace as a formidable 21st century tech in multiple industries and software, many have speculated about its ability to replace freelance writers.

This danger, although imminent, is held at bay as these algorithms lack the ability to create content with the same depth and emotion as humans. As such, many clients specifically request that no AI be used when compiling content.

Introducing AI has a unique benefit for freelancers: it helps offset the stress of being replaced. AI engines such as ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing (or Co-Pilot) can assist in faster research by asking AI questions and studying the results from the web.

These AIs commonly offer reference links to the information they provide. Writers can cross-reference and fact-check these links before using them in content. This streamlines the task of searching for research material and can lead to more factual and informative content.