The Highs and Lows of Being a Freelance Writer

Being a freelance writer/journalist/creative for the most part is the best job in the world.

Having graduated from university I was eager to get a cadet ship at a major broadcaster in Australia.

Unfortunately so did all of the other thousand recently graduated journo students and I slowly realised that a career as a hard hitting news journalist wasn’t for me.

I decided that freelancing was the route I wanted to take and after taking it far too seriously for six months when I began to hate writing and I wondered why I was doing this I reassessed.

I loved writing. I wanted to write about things I wanted to write about, when I wanted to write about them. I wanted to be happy. I didn’t care anymore if I was being paid or not.

With the stress off my shoulders to be paid suddenly the whole freelance writing thing became fun again.

There is a big debate in the writing world about whether or not you should accept writing for free.

Many people staunchly say no that writing for free means that publications will begin to decrease payment to writers because they can find the same services for less, but I don’t necessarily agree.

Writing for free was the only way I was able to build a portfolio of work to show to editors who do pay.

It helped me to gain experience and craft my own unique voice and writing style.

With so many online publications now there has been an over saturation of the market.

This means that many online publications can not provide compensation.

It is a sad state of affairs as there are a large amount of online publications that are really great, informative and  professional that I am proud of write for, for free.

Today I write monthly for a wonderful publication empowering women to travel the world, for free.

I freelance for newspapers that pay for travel articles when I happen to have a pitch I can send.

It all varies month by month, also it varies when I have inspiration (not forcing the writing to happen has been a big part of this).

Building up my portfolio was not only about writing for free.

It also meant having pieces written and edited that were never published, editors writing horrible emails back to me, work being commissioned and then nothing happening with it.

In fact that is hardest part.

When an editor likes your work, commissions it, you write it and then…..nothing.

You hear nothing, you see nothing published and then they say simply ‘oh sorry’ if they say anything at all.

In fact I had this happen with two new publications in Australia started by young people for young people.

I wanted to support the emergence of new online magazines by young people in my country, but both times I wrote pieces that were accepted and then they were either never published or the publication stopped being active.

I was so frustrated each time, as no thought was given to the hours I had spent writing.

Thats the thing, the low side of being a freelance writer.

You are often treated just like a number.

What editors often forget is that they need you.

Without the writers there is nothing to publish and they will have no publication.

Someone once asked me how I can afford to live as a writer.

The answer: I can’t. I won’t. I don’t.

Writing for me is about enjoyment.

I write when inspiration strikes.

I hope an editor will like my work.

And if they don’t I write for my blog.

It took a long time to take back control from editors to enjoy writing again but I was able to.

I hope any other struggling writers can too.


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