Photo courtesy of Netemus @ Free Digital Photos

According to a study published by Contently earlier this year, most people are freelancers because they want to be and not because they have to be. Slightly more than three in four people who responded to the survey, which included writers as well as others in creative fields, stated that working as a freelancer was a conscious choice. This is in spite of the well-known stressors that come with the freelancing life, such as a lack of benefits, instability of wages, and tax complications.

Of those who started freelancing by choice, 60 percent stated independence and flexibility as their primary motivations. These were closely followed by greater opportunity and financial gain. Perhaps most surprisingly, only 25 percent of respondents would accept a permanent full-time position that included benefits for the same level of pay. That just goes to show that so-called stability does not hold the weight that it once did. People who achieve the most success as freelance writers know that they must create their own stability.

Is There Such a Thing as a Typical Freelance Writer?

Freelance Writing Journal, a website that publishes leads to freelance writing jobs, conducted a survey of its users in late 2015. Of those who responded, a majority said that they freelance part-time and got into it in the first place because they needed a side job to earn extra money. People who responded to the survey said they spend between three and five hours per day on freelance writing assignments. A smaller percentage started out part-time while employed elsewhere and eventually made the transition to full-time freelance writing. It is rare for people to start out as a full-time freelance writer.

Although we like to think we are unique in this field, the Freelance Writing Journal survey did narrow down the following averages:

  • Two-thirds of people who work part-time or full-time as a freelance writer are women. This makes sense when you consider that flexibility is the biggest draw to the profession and that women are the ones who juggle family and career the most.
  • One-third of the respondents were between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest age category represented was 35 to 44, followed by 18 to 24, 45 to 54, and over age 55.
  • Approximately 40 percent of freelance writers have a bachelor degree and nearly 20 percent have a graduate degree. We may desire flexibility, but we’re still an educated bunch.

The Contently survey states that 35 percent of full-time freelancers make under $20,000 per year and eight percent make more than $100,000 annually. This compares favorably to 40 percent and six percent on these income levels for the general population. However, full-time freelancers are still being undercompensated since they have higher education levels overall.

The Good, Bad, and Encouraging

Besides the need to earn money on the side, people listed not wanting to work in an office and having no other preferred career as main reasons for getting into freelance writing.  The main advantages to freelance writing outside of the flexibility factor are not having a boss, the ability to set their own rates, and the lack of face-to-face meetings. As for the negatives, people in the Freelance Writing Jobs survey stated difficulty in getting new clients, distractions at home, and dealing with business concerns in addition to an unstable income. More than 80 percent felt that the pay rate for an assignment was the most important factor when deciding whether to accept it.

All things considered, 55 percent of survey respondents felt that life as a freelance writer had improved over the previous year. It was a pretty even split for whether freelancing would get less difficult, more difficult, or stay the same over the next 10 years.

Content Runner gives writers the chance to enjoy many of the benefits people in both surveys said was important to them. You can work when and where you want, set your own rates, and develop personal relationships with clients. This means you won’t have to be among the 37 percent of freelance writers who stated they didn’t have any regular clients and had to constantly search for new work. To establish a writer account at Content Runner, click here.