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The #1 Perk of Freelance Writing

March 12th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A few weeks ago during a tele-seminar, the interviewer asked me, “Bob, why did you become a freelance copywriter?”

I answered with the first thing that came into my head: “The thing I love most about being a freelance writer is not having to wear a suit and tie.”

He laughed. But I wasn’t kidding.

Yes, the freelance life has a large number of pros … and probably an equal number of cons.

Some of the perks are big things: the ability to work at home (which I don’t), spend more time with family, throw away your alarm clock, work your own hours, choose the work you do, and be your own boss.

But sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference.

The little thing I hated most about my stint in corporate America was having to put on a suit and tie every day.

As a freelancer, I can throw on a pair of jeans with a rip in the knee and an old flannel shirt in seconds, and I am ready to start the day.

Beard stubble? Shave later … or tomorrow. Need a haircut? I’ll worry about it next week.

Next to not dressing up, the second best thing about freelancing is not fighting rush hour traffic.

Most freelancers work at home and brag about the 60-second commute from their bedroom to their attic office.

My rented office is only 8 miles from my house — a pleasant 15-minute drive through local streets that totally avoids rush hour traffic.

I know all this may sound a bit petty … but as I said, it’s often the LITTLE things that make the biggest difference.

Are you a freelancer in your field? If so, what’s your favorite thing about the freelance lifestyle?

If you’re not a freelancer — but are thinking of making the transition from corporate employment to self employment — what tempts you most about the freelance business?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 at 3:08 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

37 responses about “The #1 Perk of Freelance Writing”

  1. Michael said:

    What tempts me most about making the jump is not being locked into a schedule based on a corporate structure. As a freelancer, I can tailor my hours to work with the times I am most productive (oddly, I’m most productive after 8 p.m.). As long as I get the work done by deadline, I can work when I want (barring client meetings, etc.). Plus, I can listen to the Dave Ramsey show on my radio without disturbing anyone (at the office, I have to stick to my iPod). 🙂

  2. Len Bailey said:

    I enjoyed two things most about freelancing:

    First, being able to spend time with my family in the middle of a “workday” was priceless.

    Coming in a close second was the mobility. It’s hard to beat a job that lets you work from home, the office, or the gym… not to mention being able to kick back at the park or the beach while still earning a living.

    Of course, the easy days are behind me now. As Clayton’s newest copywriter over at Response Ink, I’ll be working my butt off again!

  3. Christine said:

    I have freelanced so long, I had to think hard about this.

    I am not good with office politics, that is good.

    I am extremely fast and efficient, and I can be the one to take advantage of that. I don’t have to account to anyone for idle time as a result, neither do I have to pick up the slack for others who can’t or won’t work as quickly as I can.

    My only dealing with peak hour traffic is to cross the road out front of my home studio to get to a good coffee on the other side. Sometimes this is tough!

    It is going to be stinking hot here today, and I can walk to the supermarket and be home by 10am when it is starting to hot up.

    Sometimes I sit here in quite presentable clothes. Other times I sit here in track pants and t-shirt. I get to choose according to my mood, not because of the office dress code.

    I have a big pot of chutney on the stove at the minute. Now and again, I can go to the kitchen and give it a stir.

    I can cook whatever we LIKE for dinner, and still get it on the table by 7ish.

  4. Kristi Holl said:

    We must both be slobs at heart because my first gut reaction was: no more panty hose!

    Second, I could raise my children myself, combine babies and bylines, and have the best of both worlds. Yes, it was a juggling act, but it was my CHOICE. I love the feeling of having choices vs. being trapped.

    After the kids were in school–and now that I have grandkids–I love being able to drop everything and go to “Grandparents Day” or a kindergarten concert or whatever, knowing I can get up early or work later and not have to miss out on anything.

    Peace and quiet is priceless. Lonely? Never. And if I ever get that way, I can choose who to have lunch with–you’re not stuck with the office gossip along with your sandwich.

    It’s good to think about these things!! It helps off-set the rejection blues. 😎

  5. Dianna Huff said:

    What I love about being in business for myself:

    I’m my own boss and get to decide what I work on and what I want to learn (no more asking for “permission” to attend a conference or workshop).

    No office politics.

    No pantyhose and suits and shoes that kill my feet.

    No listening to the dolt in the next cube burp, cough, yack on the phone, etc etc etc.

    No more corporate cube — my office overlooks the front lawn where I can see the robins looking for grubs.

    However, I still own an alarm clock. I’m up before 5:00 AM every day.

  6. Joe said:

    Bob, as you know I am moving toward the freelance life after 20 years in newspapers and two years in public/media relations, and I have to say the biggest attraction is the ability to work my own hours. I am a night owl and do my best work when many are fast asleep. While the pantyhose is not an issue for me (geez, I feel like I have to state that these days ;->)the idea of finally being able to work in jeans and a sweater really has an allure for me.

    But even more is the allure of working on a variety of projects rather than being locked into a specific industry or project line.

  7. John Lockwood said:

    Bob, I like the blue jeans feature. I work at home, so blue jeans for me would be strictly for dress-up day.

    I’m most attracted to publishing in all its forms, so I guess my focus is on freelancing as product creation and marketing rather than on freelancing as service sales. Reality may educate that out of me, but until it is I’m living the dream!

    Nice topic. I think I’ll use it as the starting point for a post on my blog.

  8. Craig Hysell said:

    Choices. I cherish my choices. (Which is what we all seem to be talking about.)

    I enjoy the responsibility. I enjoy the diversity if I wish. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the risk.

    I enjoy being a part of THE MACHINE without feeling subject to all its wires, mechanisms and protocols.

    I enjoy the freedom and independence.

    And I love the opportunity to be successful without having to report for duty by such and such time wearing such and such attire.

    My brain and quality of work does not directly correlate to my power tie and suit jacket. I promise.

  9. Dina at said:

    Well, Bob, I couldn’t fit all my reasons for loving the freelance life into one little comment box. So I’ve posted them on my blog and tipped my hat to you.

    Thanks for making me who I am today. (Little did you know!)

    Dina Giolitto

  10. Lou Wasser said:

    Working for a boss whose IQ is lower than his waist size is very bad. Working for a rich man’s favorite son who doesn’t know shish kabob from shinola is very bad.

    But working for a boss whose IQ is lower than his waist size who doesn’t know shish kabob from shinola AND who just happens to be a rich man’s favorite son is a nightmare.

    If you can survive the beginning stages of the startup freelance life, you quite naturally move in the direction of projects that entrance you and frequently bring you in touch with interesting clients who feel grateful when you help them.

    After thirty years of sales and sales management, I walked away from big money and good benefits for the life of a freelance copywriter. I’m only too happy to watch that life fade from view in my rear view mirror despite some difficulties on the bumpy road ahead.

  11. Ken said:

    I love being able to go golfing in the middle of the week when it isn’t quite so busy…you just can’t beat that!

  12. Jodi Kaplan said:

    I like not being chained to a desk. I don’t necessarily get great ideas looking at a computer screen. Sometimes, they come while walking down the street, or standing in line at the post office (hey, shouldn’t there be an express line for direct marketers?)

  13. Andrew said:

    1 / I’ve been freelancing for 3 1/2 years. It has made me more resourceful and better able to handle uncertainly.

    2 / All the corporate BS is stripped out of the situation.

    3 / I feel “in control” with is serious psychic wealth.

  14. Bill Hilton said:

    I’m with Michael: it’s the time thing.

    I work best between 7am and 10am, 4pm and 5pm and 9pm and 11pm. Find me an employer that’ll let me work those hours.

    Agreed about the suit, though. I’ve got to spend time this week at meetings away from home. I’ve just dug the charcoal grey beast out of the wardrobe.

    Anyone know how to remove mayonnaise stains from wool without recourse to a dry cleaner?

  15. Govind Mukundan said:

    You say that “the freelance life has a large number of pros … and probably an equal number of cons.” What would you say is the #1 drawback of being a freelance writer? But then I guess that calls for its own blog entry.

  16. Gary (aka fool4jesus) said:

    I don’t know if this is too late to leave a message on this entry, but for me the attraction is really more for something that I can continue to do after I retire at the rate I want (or need…) to do it. Many of those other advantages – work at home, wear what you want, spend time with family – are available if you work for a company who either supports telecommuting or can be talked into it. Unfortunately, that’s not a possibility in some places and in some job responsibilities; but for those of us who have the opportunity, it’s great!

  17. Phil Dunn said:

    Best thing is knowing that if I try something new or test out a different way of doing things.. I’m on the hook.. I get the rewards and risk. I see the action and measure the metrics. One of the great things about the Web, too.

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