The real struggles of professional freelancing

A white spotted pink piggy bank has its nose down in a small pile of coins on a table.There’s this assumption that working as a professional freelance writer is as simple as getting your first order. Then it’s just a snowball effect. In reality, it’s so much more difficult. I don’t really hear anyone talk about this struggle and its impacts, though, so I’m in the process of writing a book about it. I’m highlighting its main points below for you!

Professional freelancing growing pains

I never thought I’d have to choose between toilet paper and ramen noodles. But that’s exactly where my choice of a freelance career led me. So…why am I still here? Barely making ends meet and grocery shopping at a dollar store? Because success was never about the amount of money in my bank account. Here’s the reality:

  • You aren’t going to instantly be a success: I’ve nicknamed this stage the “terrible twos” of freelancing. It’s this awkward point that no one talks about. You’re making enough money to prove you’re doing something right but not enough to have any left in the bank after paying the bills. It doesn’t matter how hard you work.
  • You’ll forget who you are: You work longer days. You take every project that comes your way, yet paying rent is out of the question, let alone luxuries like toilet paper. You’ll feel like a caffeinated extension of your keyboard rather than a human being.
  • You’ll start to think it’s your fault: You’re made to think that if you’re suffering, you’re failing. The shame and resentment kick in, and you consider trying something else. It’s friggin’ hard. Yet no one talks about it except to fix something. And that’s what made me want to write this.
  • You’ll try to find success externally: This infuriating, shameful part of freelance life can’t be fixed by a YouTube how-to or a guidebook on being successful. It’s just growing pains that feel like crap, no matter how diligent you are.

The solution: find your own definition of success

Like all of you, I did everything right, but it still wasn’t enough. So, I said, “screw this,” and made my own rules, so I didn’t feel like a failure anymore.

I created a budget that made sense for me.

I learned to have fun even when the money wasn’t there.

I focused on creating new opportunities for myself.

I’ve learned to see myself as a success when I can buy toilet paper and ramen noodles when I have the budget for only one. This is the biggest reward I’ve received so far — the “feeling like a success” part, that is, not the noodles.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be miserable while you wait for your big break. I want other struggling freelancers to know that you aren’t alone, even if the online world says otherwise. I see you, and I see your struggles. The solution is all about making a choice. So what will you choose? Misery or positivity?

I don’t really hear anyone talk about this struggle on the freelancer career path and how it impacts us. Am I just a voice in the wilderness here? Is it something you’ve experienced? Do you want to hear more about it? Share questions, complaints, and anything else, below!

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Business content writing

Kelterss View All →

Kelterss is an experienced freelance business writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creating Writing. Having served over 3 ,200 customers while maintaining a 4.9/5 star rating, Kelterss is looking to focus her professional services in writing product descriptions and blog posts.

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