Things People Forget About Freelance Writers

forget about freelance writers
Paperwork is one thing many people forget about freelance writers.

Those who go into freelance writing go in thinking it’s a great way to gain financial freedom. It can be, but there are certain things that many forget about freelance writers. Just to make it clear, freelancing is not easier than working for someone else or than running a larger business.

You really need to think about the following to set your rates and really think about whether this is something for you.

You’re Only Paid for the Work You Do

You’re not paid for all the hours you work. Someone can work 20 hours a week on average, but will definitely not be paid for all those 20 hours.

There are hours for doing the paperwork and tracking finances. Some hours are spent arranging and being in meetings or interviews. Other hours will be taken up with travel and making business purchases.

You’re only paid for the client work that you do. It means setting your rates with that in mind.

You Don’t Get Holiday or Sick Pay

When you’re working for someone else, you get paid for holidays and can get sick pay. This is definitely not the case for freelance writers. In fact, it’s something that many forget about freelance writers until it comes to the time for holidays or days off sick.

I had a day off sick this week, and now have to catch up on the work that I’ve missed. It’s either that or I cancel the work/negotiate something different on contracts and lose out on money. I don’t want that day off to end up meaning that my family loses out so I’m putting the extra hours in now.

I’m taking two separate weeks off in the summer too, but I’m already planning ahead for that. My prices are at a set amount that allows me to take four weeks off a year (two around the summer and usually two around Christmas/New Year).

Freelance Writers Don’t Get Benefits

Unless you have awesome clients, you won’t get many benefits being a freelance writer. Employees can get company cars, medical insurance, and gym passes. Childcare vouchers are one benefit that my husband gets from his employment that I really wish I could get as a freelance writer.

The costs from these benefits have to be paid by freelance writers. That means the prices for services needs to be higher than someone would get for a normal hourly wage in employment.

There are some who are very lucky in this case. If you’re doing work for a gym client, you may be able to get a free gym membership to trail the services for example. For those who write reviews, there is the possibility of getting review copies of books to read.

Business Expenses Are Claimed Off Profit

There is a lot of talk about tax avoidance. While I agree that tax avoidance is bad, there are some misconceptions from those who don’t run their own businesses. There are certain expenses that can be claimed back from the profit, so the tax bill is lowered.

Now, not everything can be claimed as a business expense, and you do need to be reasonable to avoid the taxman paying a visit. But you can claim part of your rent if you have a home office solely for working and your energy bills for during work use for example.

It is also possible to claim expenses such as renting spaces for business meetings or taking clients out to lunch. Stationary, gas and computer costs can also be claimed, although you should seek advice from an accountant to make sure you do not over-claim anything.

Many of these costs are taken for granted by employees because the employer pays for them.

However, you can’t just rely on taking the costs out of your profit. While it lowers your tax bill, it also lowers the amount you actually gain from your work. You need to factor them into the cost of your services.

There’s just so much that people forget about freelance writers. For some, these factors are an instant turnoff to go into this line of work. There are ways of working around them, but you need to think about them first!

Are there any things I’ve missed about the things people forget about freelance writers? Maybe you have peeves of your own that you wish your friends would remember, or you think someone needs to consider before getting into the biz.

Post included in the Friday Link Party for April at Make a Living Writing.

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14 thoughts on “Things People Forget About Freelance Writers

  1. Great tips! It’s true freelancers don’t have much benefits and work long hours. But I think spending more time with the family can be a great bonus.

    1. Oh there are definitely many more other types of benefits. I think it’s just important to remember the financial downsides that are so commonly forgotten about.

  2. Agreed! I’m a freelance writer and people (who aren’t) seem surprised at how “high” my rates are – but you get paid more because you don’t get all the extra stuff that employees get. They have also clearly never sat for an hour trying to find 1000+ words to write on a completely random topic; it’s like getting blood from a stone!

    1. That’s so true. People also don’t seem to realise just how much skill goes into writing. Not everyone can do it well–and some wouldn’t be able to do it at all.

    1. Bear in mind that you should never end up being paid for all the hours you work. Some of the hours people tend to forget about are the accounting hours and marketing etc. It’s not a bad thing that you’re not getting paid for them all, but you need to consider that when it comes to pricing your product. I’m glad to hear you enjoy your goat milk soap business, Debbie. I’ve never heard of something like that, and it sounds intriguing. Loving it is the first step to making it succeed 🙂

    1. Hi Steve,

      Good luck with starting out. It’s definitely worth knowing the downsides just to be ready for them. You’re welcome…

  3. It’s about time somebody wrote a post like this. People think writers sit down and write an article, send it to a publisher, and then presto – two-weeks later you have a big fat check in the mail. This certainly is true for well-established writers, but it hardly rings true for the rest of us. There is hope, though, if you are willing to invest the time it takes to get ahead.

    I think for the part-time writer, freelance writing is a great way to get started. If you are lucky enough to have substantial income from elsewhere, then you can spend lots of quality time learning how to break into the business the right way.

    I would have added that it takes months, sometimes, to get paid for your writing, once it is accepted, but it looks like you covered it all.

    Good post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and comment, Joseph.

      The taking months to get paid does depend on the type of writing you do. I rarely do magazine writing, and mainly work with private clients so that keeps the wait time down. The problem I find with magazines is that it can take them ages to decide to publish somethings, and you don’t get paid until it goes live or is in their print magazine.

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