Working from home as a freelance writer may look great to the untrained eye, but don’t let the flashy numbers fool you. Sure, you can work in your PJs, sleep in until nine and take a day off to go to the beach. However, those luxuries come at a very steep price with long hours and little to no pay.
When starting out, you’ll spend more time doing research for your articles than you will writing them. Those fifteen dollars you just got paid for the article you submitted yesterday? Three hours of work—under minimum wage before taking out taxes.
- You’ll have to open up a Paypal account. Very few freelancing sites mail out checks or offer direct deposit anymore. It’s easier for them to send out payments through Paypal as the site allows both parties to keep track of their income, which is essential come tax season.
- Use a dedicated email address. It’s easy for us to write down any old email address when applying to these sites. Don’t. You want to use an email address for all of your freelancing business—this includes personal clients, article databases and your Paypal account.
- When choosing an email client, I highly recommend using Google’s Gmail. You may have an email connected to a personal site, but what happens to all of your correspondence if you decide to use a different web host? This actually happened to me a few months back and it was a headache trying to get things back on track. Always use a reliable account that you can use regardless of where you host your personal website or blog. Another reason you’ll want to use Google is because of Adsense and Analytics. Instead of signing into multiple accounts throughout the day, you’ll only be using one. Everything will be right there waiting for you when you log in.
- You won’t see a dime for at least three months. Unless you’re writing for a site like Demand Studios that pays up front, don’t plan on quitting your day job anytime soon. Most revenue sites use Google’s Adsense to pay their writers for views or clicks. However, Adsense won’t pay you until you’ve made $100.00 or more in revenue. You can up your chances of reaching payout sooner by writing for multiple sites, but again, it’s slow going until you get your incoming traffic to grow.
- It’s work, so treat it like a job. Those sites that claim riches over night are a scam, plain and simple. You have to write quality content and continue to do so for months if not years to reach payout for some of these sites. In the beginning, you’ll be spending 8-10 hours per day writing articles, bookmarking and submitting those articles to databases.
- You have to pay self-employment tax. At a normal 9-5 job you’re responsible for paying over 7% of your paycheck into social security. Your employer also pays in over 7% for each paycheck he gives you. However, if you’re planning to work from home as a writer, you’re a personal contractor. You alone are responsible for the 15% paid to social security and Medicare. Couple that with federal income tax and you’re looking at a 30-40% cut from what you make each year.
In the end it all comes down to how much time you’re willing to spend learning the ropes, building content and promoting your work. Will it get easier? Sure, but it can take years to reach a comfortable income just by writing from home.