Stop Saying These Things to Freelance Writers
Updated: Jun 13
Whether you're a highly accomplished author or a successful marketing copywriter, people tend to form numerous misconceptions about writers in general.
And, if you've been in the business for a while now, then you've probably heard some that made your eyeballs want to jump out of their sockets because you rolled them just a little too hard. Sure, the definition of being a writer has evolved over the years. However, there are still a few things freelance writers want you to stop saying to them, even if they're too polite to say so.
The Usual Offenders
1. Freelance writing isn't like a real job.
This one delivers a blow to our ego. When most people think about a "real" job, they picture being in an office with a boss hanging over your shoulder, lunches on the run (or not at all), and a time clock. Many people think back to the time they had to write papers in school and can't seem to wrap their minds around the fact that you can write from home to make money.
It's even worse because, as a freelance writer, people assume you don't actually work because you skip the commute to your job. The times that I've driven during rush hour remind me why I prefer working from home. Look, your work as a writer is just as valuable even if you don't work at an office.
2. So, what do you do to make money?
It's amusing that the first people who tend to think you're a bum is your own family. Do they really pay you to do that? What do you actually do to make money for your bills and stuff? Well, I hang out at major intersections with my "Need money for food, anything helps!" sign and beg for it.
Seriously, I believe some of them think I get by on mooching. However, I do what any other person does—I work. And, I get paid to write. It's that simple. These freelance writing boards are just the tip of the iceberg where you can find clients who will pay you to write for them. What do you do to make a living?
3. Oh, so it's like you're an administrative assistant?
Someone actually said this to me the other day. Heh. I'm not even sure how someone could come to that conclusion, but here we are. Look, administrative assistants (in an office setting, mind you) make copies, type up already composed information, answer phone calls, and interact with customers.
They typically do whatever they're told to do, which may include coffee runs—something I absolutely won't do because it's not my job. Get your own coffee. Composing marketing copy for a new ad or website copy for a new website is entirely different and absolutely within my scope of work.
Please, don't misinterpret my words. If being an administrative assistant in an office will lead you to the place you want to go, then by all means—do it. It's just not for me or the majority of serious writers out there.
4. Writing must be easy to do.
Writing isn't always easy. In fact, it's just as hard as any other job that requires work from the left and right sides of your brain. I can tell you that after I've written thousands of words of copy at the end of the day, I'm often exhausted. Man, the mental exhaustion is real. On the other hand, some people claim writing comes easily for them. So, good for them, but it's honestly not always easy for me. Writer's block or burnout sound familiar, anyone?
5. Everyone's a writer these days.
Um, none of the people in my inner circle are writers. At least, they're not writing full-time as a freelance writer. For example, one is a scientist, and another is an engineer, another is a doctor, etc. I am aware of the surge of new writers into the current workforce, but I'm still getting new clients and projects, so it doesn't bother me. Good for them. Everyone deserves the opportunity to go after their dreams. If they really want to be writers, then great!
6. You must have a lot of free time.
Huh? I don't have a lot of free time on my hands. Even if I weren't running a business, I'm a full-time mom. Being a mom basically fills my entire schedule as it is. When I'm not working, I'm busy with my minions and vice versa. I have to force myself to carve out personal time. Otherwise, I would never do anything for myself. Establishing a writing routine has helped me stay on track with the flexibility I need to meet goals while also being there for my family.
You know, this goes for other freelancers as well. They dictate whether they want to work 12-hour days or 8-hour days. If they're a serious freelance writer, then I can almost guarantee that they don't have a ton of free time either. We're running a business, which takes time, especially when you're just starting. Some freelancers get to the point where they can raise their rates enough, so they work less, but this doesn't happen for everyone.
7. It must be nice to sleep in & to work whenever you want.
While it's true that I set my own schedule, you'd be mistaken to think that I write when the urge hits, like at 2 am. I have deadlines to meet. I find that a schedule keeps me on track. I'm still "clocking" in when I sit down to work. The main difference between people clocking in at their job and me is that my schedule fits my needs. Other people usually mold their lives around their job and not the other way around.
As far as sleeping in, does 6 am count? I normally wake up at 5 am, but I keep trying to wake up around 4 am. I'm almost always asleep by 10 pm because if I don't get at least 7 hours of sleep, it will not happen. And honestly, I naturally wake up at 6 am anyway. Also, since my main focus is my children, I only have about six hours each day to complete my work.
8. No, really, what do you do?
I've heard this one a few times. I typically go into the same spiel I've given time after time: I write the copy for websites, blog posts, website articles, emails, social media posts, etc. Even at that point, I have to break it down even further into, "You know, the text that's on the home page, about page, etc.," and then it usually clicks for the person I'm speaking with.
I try to limit my explanation because the other person's eyes tend to glaze over if I try to tell them about SEO, Google Analytics, or something else work-related. It's fine since I honestly don't expect them to understand my job.
9. Can you do XYZ thing?
If you're thinking about becoming a writer, you have to be disciplined and stick to your schedule. I have a bad habit of not putting my foot down for many things, but this is basically how it should go: No, I can't run our son's backpack to school because you forgot it—I'm in the middle of working. No, I'm not coming to pick you up from school because you decided to stay up late, and now you're exhausted with a headache—I'm working, and you should have gone to sleep last night.
I'm getting better at refusing to drop everything to do for others unless it's necessary. If I'm in the middle of working on something, don't expect me to drop everything to run errands, do the laundry, or another task you deem more important than my work. And no, I don't feel like chatting with you about everything rather than working. It's annoying and distracting. Please, just let me work!
10. You must get lonely.
I suppose there's this myth that writers are introverted hermits that only come up for air every great once in a while. It's just that—a myth. I interact with individuals at my children's schools to the people at our taekwondo school. Plus, my sister calls me every single day after she leaves work. I don't feel very lonely. In fact, I take advantage of the time I have to finish as much as possible before school ends for the day.
It's a Real Business
I'm sure there are a few others that I've left out. The main thing that bothered me was people's condescending tone when I tell them what I do for a living. Don't feel sorry for me because I enjoy what I do! Frankly, I also don't care anymore.
Freelance writing is a real business that puts money in my bank account. You can make a lot of money doing it if you're serious enough about it. Don't worry about the things people say to writers. If you want to be a freelance writer, go for it.
Has anyone ever said any of the above to you & how did you handle it?