The Pros and Cons of Flexible Freelance Writing Jobs
The Pros and Cons of Flexible Freelance Writing Jobs
Right now it’s about three in the afternoon. I am still in my pajamas and don’t have any intention of changing into more presentable attire. For some freelance writers, I just listed the quintessential benefit of having a flexible writing schedule. Personally, I think the ability to wear sweatpants 24/7 starts out as a plus and eventually turns into a bit of a problem. In any case, it’s important for people to know that there are both good and bad aspects that come with a self-motivated writing schedule. Before you trade your suits for sweats, you should consider the pros and cons of freelance writing jobs from home.
What Are the Advantages of Freelance Writing Jobs From Home?
Here are the top three reasons why most freelancers love working on their own:
1. Flexible Travel
When I worked a 9-to-5 job, finding time to travel was a pretty tedious endeavor. Now, with no set shifts that I need to work around, I can schedule flights on cheaper days and make the most out of my trips. Plus, I can work while I’m traveling, so going on vacation doesn’t end up crippling my bank account.
2. Preferred Sleep Schedule
In the world of freelance work, night owls can write late and early birds can get cracking at dawn. This is nice as a general practice, but also really helpful because of the nature of the work. Successful freelance writers know when they do their best writing and when they do their best sleeping, and it’s great to have an accommodating schedule.
3. Spontaneous Adventures
You know who can’t drop everything and go to a movie on a Tuesday afternoon? Professionals tied to an office. You know who can? The writer who gets up early to work, thereby freeing up the afternoon so he or she can pay too much for popcorn!
What Are the Disadvantages of Freelance Writing Gigs Online?
Consider the top three downsides to being a freelance writer:
1. Schedule Mismanagement
While a flexible writing schedule allows you to set your day as you please, it’s easy to take advantage of your freedom and start coming up with excuses to avoid writing. As a freelancer, you have to appropriately prioritize your personal and professional to-do lists, otherwise you won’t be able to buy food, clothes or expensive popcorn.
2. Self-Motivation Required
There’s no freelance oversight committee to help you stop procrastinating and leaving your work until the eleventh hour, so you have to be self-motivated constantly. If you wait until the last minute and an unforeseen power outage or bear attack keeps you from getting an assignment finished on time, you may strain your relationship with your client or editor who will wonder why you didn’t take your assignment seriously and why you were hanging out with bears when you should have been writing.
3. Burn Out
I love writing. I also love eating cake. That doesn’t mean that I love doing either of those things at all hours of the day. Freelancers don’t get employment benefits (paid sick leave/time off, health insurance coverage, retirement plans), so we spend a lot of time working to pay the bills. Writing constantly, much like eating an entire Bundt cake, can be exhausting. If you don’t have a love for and dedication to the craft, you may burn out quickly.
What Time Management Tools Can Help You Succeed?
I’d be lying if I said that the drawbacks that come with a flexible writing schedule aren’t difficult. Still, I’m a strong advocate of the freelance lifestyle, and the benefits of work from home writing jobs can outweigh any negative aspects — if you have the right game plan to manage your time.
10 Time Management Tools for Freelance Writing Jobs From Home
1. Conquer the Calendar
Be realistic and uncompromising with your schedule. Sure, you may not be showing up to a cubicle-filled office every day to do your work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out certain parts of your day or week to dedicate to writing. The more consistent you are in scheduling, the more productive you will be.
2. Keep a Running “To Do” List
It can be easy to start spinning too many plates when the work is all up to you. Freelance writing jobs from home may require you to work on multiple pieces at a time. Write down what you need to do each day, and what needs to be completed each week. Start working on the things that are lengthiest, most difficult or most confusing first. That way, you’ll be able to work through your issues and questions before the deadlines start looming.
3. Set Attainable Goals
Do you want to write 50,000 words this week? Great — but is it realistic with your timeline? By setting attainable goals, you not only get the satisfaction of checking off a box on your to-do list, but you may also be able to track your own progress, work up to bigger, better things more quickly and stop experiencing that constant feeling of not measuring up.
4. Work in Set Chunks of Time
Rather than telling yourself you’ll work eight hours at some point during the 15 hours you’ll be awake today, set aside specific chunks of time to work, interspersed with the occasional half hour or so to take your dog on a walk or surf Facebook on the couch. By allowing yourself a “reward” break after a two hour crunch, you’ll likely buckle down and do what you need to during the time your brain has labeled as “clocked in.”
5. Turn Off Distractions
Setting aside time to work is a waste of planning if you don’t also safeguard those hours by turning off distractions. Work time is far more productive if the only thing nagging you is the deadline for a piece of writing. Try turning off the social media notifications on your phone, sending the kids to a friend’s house, or working in a space that doesn’t face the TV. At the very least, keep the remote out of sight and out of reach.
6. Keep a Clean Desk
While most people who do work from home writing jobs are generally the “creative” type, it doesn’t also have to mean that your work area is as cluttered as your stereotypical drawer full of ideas for your next novel. Keeping a clean workspace (even if it is the kitchen counter) can actually help to reduce stress, sharpen focus, and lessen the chances of writer’s block. Take just five minutes before you start working to get your desk in order and you’ll likely find that your time spent writing is much more productive.
7. Get Good At Saying Yes — And No
If you’re lucky enough to get hired by a great content company, get good at saying “yes” to new opportunities that you feel qualified for. Chances are, your willingness to help, coupled with a dedication to quality and a timely submission, will likely increase your chances of getting additional opportunities in the future. That’s a great way to beef up your schedule without having to spend time chasing after new clients.
However, know your own limits. If you won’t be able to finish a job in time, don’t take it. If you already have done so, communicate openly with your manager or client about the problem as early as possible, to prevent any issues. Most people appreciate the honesty, and it, too may be rewarded with additional opportunities as time goes on.
8. Make an Outline – And Then Dive In!
Have you ever gotten stuck at the top of a page, trying to think of a good title? Possibly the hardest thing about freelance writing gigs online is just getting started. Next time you’re bashing your forehead against a chance of writer’s block, try skipping the title. Make a simple outline of ideas that revolve naturally around the topic you’ve been given. Then, dive in and let the words flow. Don’t stop and think about word synonyms or clever headings until you’ve written out a solid first draft. After you’ve let some creativity take over, go back and tweak it until the piece is cohesive, well-proofread and meets the client’s guidelines.
9. Give Yourself A Break
Take advantage of the best part of work from home writing jobs: taking a break when and where you need to. As long as you are being consistent in your schedule and doing your best to dedicate significant chunks of time to completing the work you know you can finish on time, taking a break is a good thing. In fact, after having a coffee with a friend or reading some of your favorite book, your mind may actually be more refreshed and ready to hit the keyboard once more when you’re ready to write again.
10. Be Consistent
Whether it’s your first time trying out freelance writing jobs from home or you’re a veteran of the world of online content creation, consistency is key. The more you write, the better you will become. The better you become, the more money you’ll be able to make, and the easier it is for a freelancing side hustle to become your full-time career.
What useful time management tips do you have to share with your fellow writers? Fire away in the comments below!
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