While working as a freelance writer has its many perks, there are many disadvantages too. In the writing world there are slow periods, this is usually near the end of the year when budgets tighten for some companies. Writers can also pick and choose their own rates and work their own hours. During busy periods this often means putting in 12 hours of work or more per day. It is a difficult job, and many freelancers do not get the credit they deserve.
Working for Credit Only
Some website owners will claim that there is no income on the website and that they cannot afford to pay for content. In return they promise to publish the articles giving you credit as the author and also promise referrals. While this does help get your name out there as a writer, it is not helping your finances in any way.
This may be okay when you are first starting out with a client or two that has a high PR number and high statistics for visitors and social media shares each month. Working for clients like this does help to add to your resume and your portfolio as well.
Inquiries from Start-Ups with No Budgets
Many freelancers get contacted by start-up websites and companies. They promise to pay for the work once the company profits but asks that you work pro-bono upfront. The problem here is that there is no guarantee that you will ever be paid. Some websites and companies never make a profit and you have no recourse since there are often not legal contracts drawn up for these situations.
Many freelancers work for agencies and content mills. These projects have a variety of editors and while most are on the same page, this is not always the case. It is frustrating to work with editors that never seem to be satisfied. Not all of these projects pay well and the multiple revisions can make the project itself seem less worth it.
When you have an issue with editors, contact the project manager. Express your concerns and ask that a different editor be assigned and that the previous go through retraining. This is often needed as some newer editors will be overly picky and miss other things that you are doing correctly.
Self Employment Taxes
Some people do take writers as part-time or occasional workers. There is a general disbelief that writers can actually make a full-time income to support themselves. The fact of the matter is many freelance writers make more working from home than some people make in 2 to 3 weeks at a brick and mortar job. The downside is having to pay self-employment taxes.
Late or Non-Payment
Working as a freelancer is difficult when clients pay upon invoicing or net 7 to 10 days. Chasing clients down for payment can be very difficult and you may find yourself having to write off a few projects as business losses. What you can do is file a complaint with Google for plagiarism as long as you have traceable proof that you created the content and it was not paid for, Google can force the client to remove the content.
The ups and downs of being a freelance writer are difficult but it is best to budget well and make sure there is enough saved for the slow periods. Always have at least one more project than you can really handle because a client can stop ordering at any time, content mills can shut down without notice and other projects can cease without notice. It is best to always be prepared.