5 Big Differences Between a Writing Desk Job and Freelancing


There are plentiful, varied, and interesting opportunities within the world of freelance content creation, which can make the transition from desk job to indie writer so attractive. However, moving from the security of a staff writer position to the world of freelance writing can be a rude awakening. Here are a few common shocks to the system that a new (or even seasoned) freelancer is likely to experience.

‘Separating worklife and homelife isn’t easy…’ Illustration by Josh Quick.

1. FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

Oddly enough, you find yourself actually missing the office: the horrible buzzing of the alarm clock, the frantic morning schedule, your desk, your routine, your people. It could be the lack of face-to-face socialization, but you really develop a yen for that slice of ubiquitous office birthday cake and a chat with the most gossipy staffer. You want to know what’s going on. You don’t want to be left out and, while furiously typing out articles in yoga pants is a dream come true, you can’t help but feel a touch disconnected.  A great way to get ideas flowing is through creative discourse with your colleagues. It’s much tougher creating content in a void, and connecting via social media only goes so far.

2. You’re Your Own Brand, Business, and Bureaucracy

When you take on the role of a freelance writer, you’ve essentially become a brand that represents your own work. You’re the face of your own company. It’s not just the transition from a steady paycheck to the constant scramble for money; there’s all the other red tape that goes with working for yourself. Medical insurance, retirement plans, and quarterly taxes, once handled deftly by Human Resources, are now your responsibility to sort out. Gahhh.

3. You Lose Access to the Inside Scoop

Being a staff member of a publication can have its advantages. You’re familiar with what’s considered appropriate, how a place functions, where the line is drawn at bawdy humor or political debate–all those things are important in order to fully grasp the office culture and the kind of content that may interest the readership.

4. Your Schedule Requires Clearly Defined Boundaries

Time is of the essence. It has value. That is, the time you spend researching, completing administrative tasks, and writing all has cash-money value. If you’re on staff, you have the luxury of working on a story and knowing you’re getting paid regardless. As a freelancer, it’s a calculated risk to sink a certain amount of time into a pitch. You’re working on speculation, and may or may not get compensated for your time.  Moreover, you go through this with every new publication you work with, so there’s the need to use your intuition until you become familiar with the publication, and that typically happens after you’ve scored a few jobs with them and not before.

5. Work and Life Merge as One Murky Unit

Separating worklife and homelife isn’t easy. When you’re freelancing at home, you don’t have the same structure as a typical nine-to-five gig. You lose track of what is work and what is just, well, life. Distinguishing between work and home is much clearer when you can leave your workplace, drive away, and go home. But when work and home are the same, it’s difficult not to keep returning to the computer or office to check up on something throughout the evening once you are “off the clock”.

So why the heck should you go for the freelancing life?


Freedom of choice. Pick the articles you want to write.

Freedom of schedule. Set your own hours.

Freedom of wardrobe. If you like, write in your pajamas.

Freedom to specialize. Find your niche.

Freedom to follow your passion.

Note: The opinions expressed by guest bloggers at the Submittable blog are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Submittable.

pasted-image-0Kristen Polito is a writer based in Florida. She holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from East Carolina University and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Florida State University. Read her public blog, SaltandPepperTheEarth, follow her on TwitterFacebook, or visit her author page here.

Kristen Polito