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Should I Quit My Job to Work as a Writer for Hire?

The $1,000,000 question: “Should I quit my job to work as a writer for hire?” Here are a few tips to help you figure out if you’re ready to work as a freelancer full-time.

For me, the biggest sign that I didn’t want to continue working as a freelancer was that I quickly wearied of pitching new article ideas to editors. I don’t regret quitting my day job to work as a writer for hire because the experience was invaluable — and it led to my current occupation as a  professional blogger (which I love love love). But freelancing full-time isn’t for me.

The lesson is thus: if you quit your job to support yourself as a writer, remember to stay open to wherever your journey leads! Maybe you’ll freelance for years; maybe you’ll unexpectedly land a permanent writing job. And, use the tips below to help you make a good decision about the timing in your writing career…

Before the tips, a quip:

“Successful home-based writers are self-starters who don’t hit the snooze alarm of life,” writes Terri Lonier in The Portable Writer’s Conference: Your Guide to Getting Published. “Abandon the notion of waiting to be inspired to be productive. Most seasoned freelance writers understand that finished work comes from putting fingers to keyboard and keester to chair on a regular basis.”

Fellow scribes, that’s your first hint: if you need to wait for the muse before you can write, then it’s probably too soon to quit your day job. But, you can learn to fire up the muse whenever you want – not when it’s ready for you. Use books like My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire to stay and informed. And, keep reading blogs like “Quips and Tips for Successful Writers” to stay motivated. 🙂

Okay, here are a few tips for aspiring freelance writers…

Should I Quit My Job to Work as a Writer for Hire?

If you can say “yes” or at least “I’m getting there!” to the following statements, then you might consider flinging yourself into freelancing full-time…

Money and Freelancing

  • I’m willing to treat my freelance writing career like a small business, which means earning little or no money for the first two years (but I’m confident that I, as a successful writer for hire, will achieve my financial goals in the first two months!).
  • I have several sources of passive income, such as web writing gigs, magazines that pay more than 10 cents an article, ghostwriting services, potential or current writing clients, etc.
  • I have enough money to support myself if I didn’t earn money writing for four to six months.
  • I have a skill or trade that I can do on the side, including finding temporary work quickly if necessary. I may quit my job, but I’m still connected to the workforce.
  • I am financially responsible, and I live within my means. My writing career is more important to me than material possessions or high falutin’ living.

Freelance Writing and Editing Skills

  • I know it’s not important to have a journalism or creative writing degree, but I do realize the importance of continually reading books that improve my writing skills.
  • I’m willing to learn something new about freelance writing every day (eg, how to find ideas for feature articles, how to write more effective pitches or query letters, etc), because I know I can never know too much about working as a writer for hire.
  • I don’t wait for the muse. I write because it’s my job, not because I feel like it.
  • I take the time to edit and revise my previous writing, because I know it makes me a better writer.

Marketing and Promotion for Freelancers

  • I’m not shy or afraid to promote my writing services and market myself as a professional freelance writer. I may have quit my day job, but I know that marketing and promotion is part of freelancing.
  • I take advantage of opportunities to participate in business clubs, writers conferences, freelancing groups, and other organizations that help freelance writers succeed.
  • I’m willing to keep trying new ways to market myself as a writer for hire – because I know that clients come and go.
  • I know how to use social media strategies (LinkIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc) to get writing jobs and promote myself as a writer for hire.

Business and Entrepreneurial Skills

  • I run my freelance writing career like a small business, which means I keep my invoices and payments organized.
  • I’m professional, responsible, and easy to work with – and I make sure my relationships with editors and publishers are respectful and mutually beneficial.
  • I’m not shy about negotiating my writing rates with clients.
  • My home office is equipped with a printer, fax machine, telephone and headset, recorder, and anything else I need to be a successful freelance writer.
  • I have strong networking skills, which means I give leads and helpful information to other writers and freelancers.
  • I have a business plan or business goals for my writing career.

If you’re thinking about quitting your job to work as a writer for hire, make sure you have a strong support system, both professionally and personally. Don’t walk the plank alone!

To learn how much money you can earn as a working writer, read How Much Do Freelance Writers Charge? Writing Jobs and Rates.

And, if you have any questions or comments about quitting your job or working as a writer for hire, please comment below…

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11 thoughts on “Should I Quit My Job to Work as a Writer for Hire?”

  1. Janette ~ Thanks for taking the time to comment; I really appreciate your feedback!

    Shari ~ We totally disagree….I think we should go out for coffee 🙂 I don’t think having a journalism or writing degree adds to a writer’s credibility. No editor or publisher has ever asked me what education I have. They ask what I’ve written in the past, and they want samples of my writing. In fact, I recently read that it’s better for a writer to have a degree in the field they want to specialize in (eg, psychology, science, business, etc) than a journalism degree. But there’s no right or wrong in this, I don’t think…each writer to her own!

    Allena ~ Thank you for sharing how much money you make as a writer! Wow…you’re my heroine. I was just telling my husband that I’ll break the $100,000 mark as a blogger in a year from now….and I’m gonna do my damndest to make it come true…

    Cheers, fellow scribes,

  2. This answer is for Suzanne, who asked “Why would working and getting a steady paycheck or quitting a job and going on unemployment while struggling to freelance be a question?”

    The answer in short is because I grossed close to 150K this year.

    The answer in long is because going for what makes you happy in life, sitting down everyday to a job you LOVE instead of hitting the snooze and thinking of calling in sick, taking care of my children MYSELF instead of having them in daycare 12 hours a day…. those things are worth the risk.

  3. Hi Laurie,

    Very good post with great advice about determining if quitting your full-time job to be a full-time freelance writer is right for you. I know it’s MY dream! However, you did make one point with which I need to respectfully disagree: “I know it’s not important to have a journalism or creative writing degree . . .”

    Whether it’s a journalism, communications, creative writing or English degree, I do think it’s invaluable to one’s credibility as a professional writer/editor. While it is possible for a great writer to make it as a freelancer WITHOUT one of those degrees, I still think they’re important.

    Other than that, you give great advice and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic! I found them very insightful.

    Shari Lopatin

  4. Thank you for this post! I can relate to so much of what you wrote. Your writing is clear and each paragraph packs a punch of practicality. Great read!

  5. Because writing for a living is a dream come true for many writers….so it’s worth the struggle. I didn’t think of the unemployment thing, though. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was a possibility!

  6. Why would working and getting a steady paycheck or quitting a job and going on unemployment while struggling to freelance be a question?