Freelancing vs authoring Part 1

If, like me, you enjoy writing and you would like to earn money from it, should you go down the freelance writing route or write books, or both?

From my experience, here are the pros and cons of freelancing.

One of the joys of freelance writing and authoring is that you can do it anywhere. Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosimoes7/

Advantages

  • If you get the right assignments, frequently enough, and can write both quickly and well, it can be quite lucrative.
  • If you find deferred gratification difficult, quite often freelance writing is a faster process. Not always, of course: you may write a piece for a magazine that won’t be printed for 6 months. But if you write for a weekly publication or a daily one, and sometimes even a monthly one, the time between submitting your article and seeing it in print could be relatively short.
  • In the UK, becoming a member of the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society (ALCS) enables you to earn money from people photocopying your articles (as long as you register them).
  • Having an article published in a prestigious journal in your field is a good way of establishing credibility – assuming the article is a good one of course.
  • Finally, having an article published is good publicity. I always ask the editor to include a short bio such as:

Terry Freedman publishes the Writers Know-how website and the ICT & Computing in Education website.

Disadvantages

  • Even if you can write quickly, it is very time-consuming being a freelance writer. You have to identify potential topics, then identify potential outlets for those topics (or vice-versa), find out who the editor is, read a few issues to make sure the topic hasn’t been covered recently and that it is a good fit for the periodical, contact the editor, and then settle down for what could be a long wait. Once you’ve been commissioned you have to invoice them, keep track of invoices submitted and payments received, and all the time be looking for new outlets and repeating the whole cycle.
  • The biggest problem about the amount of time all this takes is that it is time when you could be writing a book.
  • Even if you are very fortunate and often get commissioned to write articles, there is the biggest problem of all with freelance writing as a way of earning money: it’s a one-off payment. Unless you’re lucky and the article is published again, in which case you should get a repeat fee, you won’t earn any money again until you’ve landed another freelance job, written the article, and sent in the invoice.

Next time:

The advantages and disadvantages of authoring.