Does Freelance Blog Writing Create a Life of Leisure?

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If you spend much time in this blog, you?re probably aware that I often claim to make a comfortable living as a freelance blog writer. That?s not just comfortable in the financial sense ? although that?s also true ? but even more so as a lifestyle. Freelance blog writing has given me a level of control over my time and my work that I?ve never known in any other career field. But at the same time, I don?t want to infer that it can create a life of leisure.

Does Freelance Blog Writing Create a Life of Leisure?
Does Freelance Blog Writing Create a Life of Leisure?

Much closer to the truth is that if you want to become a freelance blog writer, or anything comparable, you?d better be prepared to work. Progress in life requires forward motion, and that only comes about with effort. In my own experience, being a freelance blog writer absolutely creates a better quality of life. But it doesn?t create a life of leisure.

That?s not to discourage you from trying to become a freelance blog writer, but more to set the proper expectation. There are a lot of benefits to this occupation, but at the same time there?s absolutely nothing magical about it. Success depends on effort more than anything else.

My guess is that anyone who works as a freelance blog writer ? or a freelance anything anywhere on the Internet ? will tell you something very similar.

Unless You?re Fully Retired a Life of Leisure is a Myth

Have you noticed how America has become virtually obsessed with retirement? I think there?s a lot more to that obsession than a simple desire to have a comfortable retirement.

Closer to the truth, I think a lot of people hate the work they do and can?t get out soon enough. Many are painfully aware that there?s no get-rich-quick scheme that will spring them out of occupational hell anytime in the near future. Instead, they focus their efforts on building that golden escape hatch by age 65 or even sooner.

In fact, the F.I.R.E. movement ? as in, Financial Independence, Early Retire ? is virtually built on that premise. You work in a generally high-income occupation, save a disproportionate amount of your earnings, invest aggressively, and spring yourself out of your cubicle as early as 30 or 35.

Don?t get me wrong, I think there?s a lot of merit to the F.I.R.E. movement. I just don?t think it?s possible for the average person.

Most of the F.I.R.E. stories I?ve read (or written about) involve people who earn six-figure incomes. In fact, I?d say most of them earn $150,000 per year and up. When you consider that the median household income in the US is sitting at around $62,000, early retirement will be a serious stretch for the vast majority of households.

After all, it?s one thing to retire in 10 or 15 years by saving 30%, 40% or 50% of a $150,000 income. But it?s entirely another matter trying to save the same percentage on an income of $60,000 or $70,000.

Newsflash: F.I.R.E. Doesn?t Create a Life of Leisure ? At Least Not When You?re Preparing For It

I don?t want to come down too hard on the F.I.R.E. movement, because as I said, it has a lot of merit. Any strategy or commitments that move you closer to financial independence is well worth pursuing. Even if you can?t retire by the time you?re 35 or 40, having a fat investment portfolio and a well-stocked bank account always opens a lot of doors.

And while success in the F.I.R.E. movement can ultimately create a life of leisure, the road getting to that point can be pure torture. Once again, this is especially true if you?re making substantially less than six figures. Can you imagine the sacrifice involved trying to save 30% of a gross income of $60,000? That takes $18,000 away from what you have to live on between now and the time you retire. And if taxes take another $10,000, you?re down to living on just $32,000 per year.

That?s not impossible if you?re single and living in a low-cost area. But if you have a family to support, and particularly if you live in a metropolitan area, it?s probably not doable. Health insurance costs alone will eat up a big chunk of that $32,000. Housing, transportation, and groceries will likely outstrip what?s left. And that?s not even accounting for debt payments.

But let?s get away from the F.I.R.E. movement, and look at the proliferation of moneymaking schemes that are all over the place. There are all kinds of programs being touted that will make you rich, from day trading programs to how-to-get-rich-in-real-estate schemes. I?ve lived long enough to realize there’s a strong connection between get rich quick schemes and economic bubbles. Those schemes are one of the best indications that the economy is getting ready to stall out.

The Power of the Promise of Easy Money

Hopefully, you?re not falling for those schemes. Not only are the vast majority scams, but you can lose a lot of time, effort and money trying to follow them. And when the economy does tank, you?ll already be in a weakened state.

Unfortunately, a lot of people do just that. And who can blame them. The hope of riches, accompanied by a life of abundant leisure, is a powerful and enduring draw. It?s the driving force behind the desire to find the fabled somewhere over the rainbow. But sitting somewhere over the rainbow is the same planet Earth you?re living on right now, so don?t get your hopes up.

I?m writing this article, because while I?ve been championing the idea of freelance blog writing for close to a decade, the last thing I want to do is give the impression that a life of leisure is part of that equation.

Making More Money ? But?

It?s true that I?m making more money now than I ever have before. But I must also add that I?m working harder now than I ever have before. Freelance blog writing, for all its better qualities, requires an abundance of hard work. In a typical week, I easily work more than 40 hours.

This is especially true as each month wears on, and orders for more articles stack up. This is when I wish I had a twin, or at least some sort of squire I could hand some assignments off to. But it?s highly specialized writing, where clients rely heavily on the specific skills, writing style, and even the ?voice? the writer brings to each project.

The work itself can be pretty intense. Obviously, there are varying degrees of difficulty between assignments. But there are plenty that require laser-focused attention for several hours. Yes, I take breaks along the way, reading emails, making phone calls, surfing the web, listening to music, and even taking short walks. But the assignment is still waiting for me when break time is over.

What Freelance Blog Writing Will Do For You ? Even if it Doesn?t Create a Life of Leisure

Have I scared you away from freelance blog writing yet? Hopefully not, because it has more virtues than drawbacks. In fact, hard work is only a negative if you don?t like to work at all. In my case, I get a lot of satisfaction from working. I?ve always felt that work gives me a certain relevance by keeping me connected to the economic universe, as well as creating? an enduring sense of accomplishment.

But there?s more to it than that.

Control Over My Time

Yes, I do work more than 40 hours a week. And yes, the work can get pretty intense. But I have a massive built-in advantage in that I have control over my time. That?s more important to me than the number of hours I work in a week. After all, as long as I can arrange my schedule to accommodate what I need and want to do on a personal level, the number of hours I work isn?t all that important.

Work From Home

I also get to work at home, which is an incalculable advantage. Eliminating a daily commute is only the most obvious benefit. But I love not having a fixed schedule, not having to put up with cranky coworkers, not having to attend senseless meetings, and not having someone looking over my shoulder every minute of the day.

The Portability Factor

As a freelance blog writer, my occupation is completely portable. I can do it anywhere there?s an Internet connection. That gives me complete control over where I want to live. That can be a large metropolitan area, a small city or town, or even somewhere on the beach. That?s not something that can be said about running a brick-and-mortar business or even about most on-site jobs.

An Opportunity to be Creative

And finally, there?s the creativity angle. I usually get topics from clients, and sometimes loose templates to work with. But everything else about freelance blog writing is like an artist painting a portrait. You start with the basic concept, and where it goes from there is completely up to you. It keeps the work from getting boring.

Final Thoughts

So no, a freelance blog writing career doesn?t create a life of leisure. But it comes with a host of other benefits, even many more than I?ve listed here.

And I?ll take it one step farther. If you?re already retired, or you?re a homemaker, freelance blog writing can be done on a part-time basis. There?s no requirement to work 40 hours a week or anything even close. You can choose to work 20 hours a week, or even just 10. It really depends on how much income you need.

But you may find the extra income you earn from it makes the leisure time you do have a lot more fun. After all, it?ll give you extra money to spend while you?re looking for things to do in your spare time.

( Photo by John Beans )

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6 Responses to Does Freelance Blog Writing Create a Life of Leisure?

  1. You say, “it may be possible if you are single and living in a low-cost area. BUT if you have a family to support….”

    Huh?

    I’m going to take a moment to remind you that if you are single, you may STILL have a family to support. Also, if you are single, you may have a very high income and low expenses and be able to save like you’re on FIRE. Or, you may have a low income and very high expenses if you are a single parent.

    It takes all kinds.

  2. Hi Kathryn – I was just trying to point out that F.I.R.E. isn’t so easy when you have a lower income, which is true. I didn’t mean to imply anything more. Any major moves in life will always require more time and effort than the proponents would have us believe. You have to admit that there’s a lot of financial snake oil being peddled out there.

  3. Hi Kevin,
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and have found it not only interesting but quite motivational. I work in higher education, but I don’t have a phd, so I don’t have the freedom or higher pay that goes along with that which means I don’t have much in my 401k and have to endure a lot of office politics and an abusive boss. I’m also 61 and worry about not having money to retire. Because of all that and the fact that I’m stuck at a desk when I’m not teaching (working 40 hours a week plus taking papers home to grade every weekend since I teach developmental reading/writing), I dream of working for myself. I’ve been very interested in all of your posts about creating a living writing a blog, but I have no idea how to go about doing it or how to get clients to write blogs for them. Do you teach any online courses or do any mentoring on this? Or, could you recommend any resources to learn how to do this and make money? I appreciate any help you can give me.
    Thank you!

  4. Hi Jim – I do offer my e-book on the topic, which you can link from the article or in the ad box in the middle of the page. I’d start by picking some topic areas you’re interested in writing about, and following blogs that cover those topics. Start by making comments on those sites, then offer your services as a writer, even if unpaid at the beginning. Eventually, the number of topic areas will expand, and with it your opportunities to write and to earn more money.

    As a teacher, you may be able to write about education, education alternatives (to avoid student loan debt), student loan debt strategies, or even the issues affecting people facing retirement with slim resources. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you open your mind to the possibilities.

    As an aside, I believe millions of people in their 60s and 70s are going to have to come up with supplemental income earning strategies in the years ahead. The shakiness of the many pensions systems, in combination with the relentless (and largely undocumented) increase in the cost of living will make it increasingly apparent. It may look like income from Social Security, a pension (for some), distributions from investments, and some sort of part-time occupation. It will be best to line up the latter before retiring, otherwise you may find yourself unretiring at a very inconvenient time in life.

  5. I’d like to hear more about what you’d do, now, in 2019, about starting from scratch to become a freelance blog writer, or, more generally, a content producer.

    I ask this with the following in mind:

    1. I’ve followed Net trends since the early 2000 when I started working in IT (still do) and found that the time before YouTube and online streaming video took off was probably the “golden age” of writing blogs, because there was much to be said (and some of it was worth something), and because there were few people doing it. However, in the ensuing years, the easier it became for people to get online and set up blogs (with software doing it for you, rather than you having to learn how to set it up yourself, which required smarts, skill, and time), the more content exploded. But, as with anything in the marketplace, the greater the supply, and relatively less demand, the more noise there is and the more difficult it is to be the signal in that noise. Put another way, if you create a blog now, what’s the likelihood that people will see it or care about it?

    Sure, there are niches out there, but is it worth it to spend countless hours to find what the niche is and try to get a foothold in it? If, for example, you want to write about a “back to the land” way of living, how many others out there in cyberspace have done it and how do you distinguish yourself?

    2. Related to (1), because of streaming video, younger people might be more likely to watch the video (or chunks of it) instead of reading text, even if you, the writer, are succinct and punchy enough to keep it flowing. Put another way, how to capture the attention of younger folks who have shorter attention spans? And, how to get them to both pay attention and pay for your writing services? As more and more content has flooded the market, the more the expectation has been for readers, viewers, to think that content is “free” and should be “free.” How to combat or circumvent this?

    3. Also, as has been the case with YouTube, though the platform has gotten easier and it can reach the greatest number of eyes and ears, YouTube can do what it wants and now, as demonstrated in recent years, ban people or severely throttle their content if it doesn’t toe their ideological line or isn’t advertiser-friendly. Yes, there are alternatives to YouTube but they’re not in a position to really challenge the platform.

    I bring up YouTube to highlight the fact, and ask the question again, what would you do differently now in light of the developments that have taken place since you started blogging over ten years ago? What would be your recommendations to getting a web presence, finding niche content sites, setting up something where you get notice, and to get paid for your time and for your work (maybe not at first, but eventually)?

    The last question is another very important one because, if I want to write, then I want to get paid. I don’t want to get stiffed.

  6. Hi Tim – Wow, that’s a lot of questions! And they’re not all related to freelance blog writing, but more toward starting a blog or even a YouTube channel. That said, I’ll do my best to address each point.

    Your first point seems to be aimed at launching a blog. That’s not what I’m going for in this article, or what I go for as a freelance blog writer. But I think you’re raising a legitimate point ? the market for blogs and YouTube channels is much more crowded than it was 10 years ago.

    However, I strongly believe that you can succeed in the crowd by patterning your blog or YouTube channel off those that are succeeding, but adding your own unique twists to the equation. People are looking for answers to all kinds of questions today, probably more than ever before. Life has gotten complicated and uncertain, and I think this is what’s driving the information chase. While I agree the failure rate with platforms is probably higher now than it was a decade ago, there’s still plenty of room for new ones. After all, just as thousands of new blogs and YouTube channels are coming online every month, a similar number are pulling the plug.

    That may sound pessimistic, but it’s always been the reality with any type of business venture. Some will succeed, and some will fail, but if you’re worried about failing you’ll never get started.

    Regarding your second point about streaming video, I agree that young people are oriented in that direction. But there’s still plenty of people who want more information, and will turn to the written word. That’s more true of older people, as in over 40. But younger people are getting older every year, and my guess is they’ll be more likely to increasingly turn to written sources.

    One reason for this is that most videos are more like sales pitches than sources of information. The ones that succeed most seem to be those that provide substance, with only a hint of a sales pitch. And very often those same YouTube channels are tied to a blog. It’s almost like the synergy created by a brick-and-mortar business that also operates an online sales channel. One complements and increases the success of the other.

    As far as your fear over people not paying for content, the entrepreneurs behind blogs and YouTube channels have that figured out. The reader/viewer may be getting the content for free, but the publisher is getting advertising revenue as well as income from the sale of various products and services. One major source is affiliate sales. That’s where you offer the products and services of other companies on your video or blog posts. Each time someone signs up for the service, you get paid a slice of the revenue.

    Affiliate sales have become a major plus for advertisers, because it’s a way of making a direct sale through in intimate medium, and without an upfront advertising cost. It’s become the advertisers way to get themselves noticed amid the mountain of advertising clutter that’s saturated the media. There’s even a widespread theory that the average person is becoming “ad blind”, and has learned to instinctively tune out when they see anything that resembles an ad (like the way I mute my TV when the commercial breaks come on).

    My point is, it’s messy but it’s working.

    As far as writing to get paid, I haven’t had a problem with that. In fact, I don’t recall being stiffed even once in 10 years. In my own experience, there’s more demand for good paid writers than ever before. Also remember you don’t just have to write blog articles. There are other avenues you can take, such as writing content for YouTubers. A lot of time and research goes into the content of those videos, and you can get YouTube creators to pay you to write up the content.

    That’s really the bigger picture point here ? once you get rolling, you can take this in any number of directions. I’ve watched my own income rise steadily, when five years ago the same points you’re making now could have been made. I don’t claim to know all the details of how it works, but I do know that it does. And I’m saying that against the reality that there are more people doing what I’m doing than ever before. But even that doesn’t scare me, because a lot of them give up once they land a full-time job. There’s definitely something of a recycling quality that goes on, but you can learn to make that trend your friend.

    You’ve asked some broad and important questions, and I hope I’ve done them justice with my response.

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