The 6 Pros (and 5 Cons) of being a Freelance Writer

Most of us want a carefree, flexible lifestyle that allows us to work when and where we want, or even not work when we want! Freelance work may be the solution, but as with all choices, it comes with its share of both pros and cons…

The Pros


This may just be my number one ‘pro’ for working in a freelance capacity. Working as a freelance writer can provide you with a flexible lifestyle to give priority and time to things other than work. This may be family, children, volunteer work, study, other types of paid work, or creative side projects. Whatever your passion, you can usually fit it around your work in a much easier way when you have the flexibility of freelance work. Not to mention getting to those dentist and doctor appointments during the week and catching up with other freelancing friends for coffee while everyone else is in the office! The flexibility of freelance also frees up your weekends for more pleasurable activities.


Along with flexibility in work and lifestyle, a wide variety of work, companies to write for, styles of writing and an extensive range of subject matter is a huge pro for maintaining interest in, and passion for, communication work. In just some of my work as a freelance writer, I have interviewed academics and medical specialists, written blogs on bitcoin and block chain, web copy about medical marijuana, articles on economics, developed client communications about mergers and much more. Compared to working in-house and writing the same types of publications year after year for the same organisation, freelance writing can open up your world and you may find yourself writing about things you never knew existed and developing new areas of expertise — a bonus for your ongoing self-education!

No commute

Working as a freelance writer often means working from home. While this is not always the case — some clients prefer you to be based in-house while you work for them — most times, you will be based at home to work. This can save not only money, but lots of time at either end of the day; not having to commute to work in any way, shape or form frees up the hours at home and allows you to multitask while you work, or get some small chores done around the house. It can even mean staying in your PJs all day and watching the telly at lunchtime (although you might want to get dressed and go out for a coffee!).

A potentially better income

I say potentially, because it often depends on the client, the job and the project as to what is a ‘reasonable’ rate to charge. This can also fluctuate depending on whether you are quoting an hourly, daily, by piece or by project rate, or whether the client has a set rate. Generally, however, you are likely to be able to charge much more per hour as a freelance writer than you would expect to receive in full-time employment as a communication specialist, copywriter or content producer. Kate of KateTooncopywriter.com.au provides freelance writers with a range of information about the business of freelance writing, including rates and best practice in setting rates. That said, there are also cons to the financial aspect of this style of work, which I will come to shortly!

Peace and quiet

Ah the sound of silence…or the occasional suburban leaf blower. Working from home can allow a greater level of concentration without the distraction of colleagues’ loud voices, coughs and colds, desk-side interruptions and other noise hazards to be found in an open plan office. You also have many more options and variety of choice in where you can write from — take your laptop to the beach on a nice day or sit in your favourite coffee shop for a couple of hours. You can even sit out in the garden or on the balcony for a change in perspective or work while you travel to a meeting. Working from a laptop offers you loads of freedom and ability to change your work location.


As with peace and quiet, the only way to ensure that no one is looking over your shoulder when you are working on sensitive documents is to make sure you are working where no one can see them. This can be difficult in an open plan office where people walk past all day — not to mention ensuring no documents are left up on screen when you leave your desk to make a cup of tea. Working from home can offer much more privacy; however, it is also vital to ensure your home computer or laptop is virus and malware free and that any external WiFi source you use is protected and secure. The onus is on you to make sure your software is up to date and virus protected so that you can safeguard your clients’ intellectual property.

The Cons

Irregular work

Oh the joys of the hustle. Everyone knows that searching for a job is, well, a full-time job. When you are a freelance writer, or any type of freelancer, you will be looking for jobs, networking, searching, applying, and building your online presence 100 per cent of the time you are not engaged on a project or contract. The saving grace in this situation can be repeat business — a client who likes your work enough to hire you for other jobs. Word-of-mouth is also vital in this occupation, as is social media, a strong LinkedIn presence, and the ability to network. Sites such as Commtract can be a fantastic option to provide freelance writers with an avenue for pitching for jobs you may otherwise not find out about. But in short, the hustle never ends!

Insecure income

Going hand-in-hand with the ups and downs of freelance jobs and short-term contracts, is the insecurity of income that it entails. Lack of holiday and sick leave, no superannuation unless you are good at self-funding your super, and of course, living on your savings ‘between jobs’, all adds up to a rather insecure and sometimes anxiety-inducing lifestyle. Before embarking on a freelance life, I would recommend having some savings in the bank, another form of investment or passive income, or a very supportive partner!

Lack of social interaction

There are days when the only face-to-face human interaction you might have is with your local cafe’s barista. Some days will go by where I haven’t said a single word to anyone but myself. For people who enjoy the office water cooler conversation, a freelance lifestyle may not be for you. However, if you like peace, solitude and your own company for much of the day, you can thrive — as long as you’re able to stay off Netflix as well! For those who do like a little company, this is where having a pet can be of great benefit — and you don’t have to worry about leaving him or her at home alone while you work. Another great option is to join an online community of fellow freelance writers such as Rachel’s List and any associated Facebook pages. This can be a great way to get good industry information, tips and support, and even freelance job leads.

Responsibility for all work and business expenses

From insurances to IT hardware and software to conferences, membership fees and courses, to the internet, phone and the electricity to run them: every work expense you have, you incur yourself. For this reason, you become very particular about the courses you do, the memberships you keep, the insurances you need, and what you can expect to get out of them. A little research into the best options and deals goes along way. Some ‘hidden’ expenses to think about as a freelance writer include professional indemnity, income, and accident/illness insurance. When you are a sole trader, these expenses can really take a toll on your credit card. On the plus side, all those business expenses are tax deductable and will reduce your pre-tax income. And as a freelancer, this can be a lifesaver at tax time. Top tip: if you rent, you may be able to claim part of your rent as a home office business expense. Check out the ATO’s page on allowable business deductions for more information.

Loneliness, boredom and procrastination

All that lack of social interaction and sitting alone in front of your laptop at home can lead down a dark path…to spending hours on Facebook and online shopping sites. If you find yourself lost in the latest Netflix series or binge-watching cat videos on YouTube, the smart thing may be to switch off the computer and go outside for some fresh air and a new perspective. Going for a walk in the park or down the beach can do wonders for the brain and will most likely reinvigorate you to get back to the work, or the search for work. Freelancer Alex Haslam also has these great tips on staying motivated, creating a workspace and most importantly, minimising distractions, when you work from home.