Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Freelance Beat is a blog exploring the triumphs and challenges that freelance journalists encounter in their early and mid-careers.

5 Career Comments Freelancers Are Tired of Hearing

5 Career Comments Freelancers Are Tired of Hearing

Friday, August 11, 2017 was a warm and breezy Chicago summer day that I remember fondly. It was my last day at a contract content maketing gig I acquired over the summer.

I got the gig shortly after being laid off of a problematic, yet mostly-stable part-time job. The content marketing gig enabled me to boost my savings before pursuing full-time freelancing. That Monday, August 14, was freeing and terrifying. I remember walking along the Lake Michigan lakefront trail, with much faster runners and bikers whizzing past me as I contemplated my future.

When I graduated in December 2014, I thought I’d wind up with a full-time journalism job that was tough, but fulfilling. I thought I’d maybe become an editor one day or a features writer. And while some of that eventually happened, I went through some pretty rough workplace experiences that led me to my life as a full-time freelancer.


Freelancing full-time is really hard, but it has its perks, ranging from working from home to collaborating with clients who value my work. But despite the lack of coworkers or a singular boss, there are other annoying things that come with freelancing. If you’ve ever freelanced, you’re probably tired of hearing this:

When are you getting a real job?

This typically comes from well-meaning loved ones who don’t fully understand why you’ve chosen the uncertainty of freelancing over the appearance of stability in full-time work. Frankly, the news business is facing layoffs left and right, so I’ll remain skeptical of full-time news jobs until the sector financially stabilizes. Regardless of the intent of this statement, you don’t have to explain your choices to anybody. As long as you’re able to support yourself, your life belongs to you.

What an interesting hobby!

Freelancing is not the same as knitting, playing video games or playing sports. If done well or at scale, even those things could be viable careers. No matter what someone does for a living, it’s incredibly rude to demean another person’s job.

You must have a lot of free time.

In my opinion, freelancing is 60 percent creative and 40 percent administrative. So on top of servicing your clients with the work you love, freelancers have to deal with the billing, marketing, taxes, bookkeeping, and all the other lovely back office tasks that staffers don’t have to deal with. So no, I don’t have a lot of free time. In fact, every minute of the workday must be maximized, a habit I didn’t have when I was a staffer.

So how do you make any money as a freelancer?

If this question comes from a mentee, a financial planner, or an aspiring or fellow freelancer with whom you’ve built a relationship, that’s one thing. Most people wouldn’t ask strangers about their salaries, so I’m not sure why some people ask freelancers about their wages. Just know that I make enough to support myself.

Do you ever leave the house?

Sure, I do a lot of phone interviews, but I do visit my sources offices or wherever they feel comfortable. I go to networking events and hand out business cards to potential sources and clients. I spend a lot of time researching or working remotely at the library. So no, I don’t have a morning commute that I dread, and I reinvest that time back into building my business. Are you jealous that I’m not in a bus, car, or train at the crack of dawn?

What are some of the annoying comments you’ve heard about freelancing? Vent in the comments or email me at

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