As a freelance writer or blogger, there are various dilemmas you may face during your career. Some of these dilemmas may be ethical in nature, while others may relate to your own personal development. In this article, I would like to examine four common dilemmas faced by freelance writers and bloggers. I have personally run up against all of these dilemmas – and continue to do so in my freelancing career.
1. Trying to Maintain Your Personal Integrity
One of the difficulties in freelance writing and blogging is trying to sustain your personal integrity. This means staying true to your values and beliefs. For example, if you hold certain ethical principles, you may be averse to writing for particular industries. These could be industries that harm people, animals, or the environment, such as the alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and animal agriculture industries.
Some writers and bloggers may also want to avoid writing for industries that promote (what they believe to be) unhealthy values. Cosmetic surgery could be an example. Furthermore, if you’re a passionate defender of a particular political ideology or religion, then writing for a political or religious organisation you disagree with will jeopardise your personal integrity.
But freelance writer and bloggers may encounter a dilemma if they feel pressured to prioritise money over values. Freelance writers and bloggers have bills to pay like everyone else – and financial worries may lead some writers to work for organisations they don’t fully agree with in order to get by. Of course, personal integrity is invaluable. So it’s important to think about how matters of conscience and, in turn, your overall satisfaction with work is impacted by the kinds of organisations that you work for.
2. Giving Up Control and Your Creativity
When you write or blog for a client, you often need to write in accordance with a particular style, tone, format, and length. As is often the case, when you conform to these requirements, you don’t write in a manner that is most authentic to you. Many writers have their own unique style and voice, a way of writing that comes naturally and energises them. Unfortunately, a writer’s natural style of writing may not be ideal for the needs of a particular client. For instance, a client may want you to prioritise readability scores and SEO as ways to maximise web traffic and social media shares.
Some clients may allow you to write in the way you feel most comfortable with, especially if your unique style of writing is precisely what an organisation is after. However, many freelance writers and bloggers will find they have to give up control and their creative energy in a lot of work that they do. This is often experienced as a dilemma. This is because one of the main determinants of meaningful work is the extent to which we have control over our work. When we lose control over our work, we lose meaning – and it’s our mental health that suffers. Moreover, many writers and bloggers have deep wells of creative energy and if these sorts of impulses are frustrated by the demands of a client, then that work can feel stifling, mundane, and unfulfilling.
3. Money Over Passion and Quality
Given the financial struggles involve in freelance writing and blogging, it’s not uncommon for writers to choose projects and clients based on considerations of money, rather than passion or quality. It would be ideal to only write about topics – or for organisations – that drive your enthusiasm and motivation. But getting to this point in your career can take many years. It requires a certain level of dedication, effort, and patience.
Also, every writer and blogger would like to fully actualise his or her potential. This means striving to write to the very best of one’s ability and to constantly challenge oneself in order to improve. But again, some clients are just looking for simple, concise, and useful content. Being able to produce this kind of content is a highly sought skill and can entail an attractive financial pay-off (especially if you’re doing copywriting). Nevertheless, while you may feel secure to be earning more money for this kind of work, this writing won’t match your true skills and potential.
This creates a dilemma for freelance writers and bloggers. When you constantly produce content that is below the level of quality and value you can actually provide, you can either continue to do so in the name of financial security or take steps to focus on clients that will genuinely favour your career development.
Freelance writers and bloggers who have their own website or blog may also encounter this dilemma when they try to find ways to monetise their site. Popular ways of monetising websites include advertising, affiliate links, and sponsored posts. But for many writers and bloggers, changing their site in this way may, in their view, result in a loss of overall quality. The readers of a blog may expect certain content from the writer and so ads or specific kinds of sponsored posts might undermine a reader’s level of trust.
This is something that freelance writers and bloggers need to think about. Ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts don’t have to harm the quality of a writer’s site. But there is always a danger of that happening. It’s important to be mindful of the balance between financial gain and authenticity.
4. Sacrificing Self-Respect
A lot of freelance writers and bloggers often feel there is a conflict between their levels of self-respect and the work that they do. This is certainly something that I struggle with. For instance, when a client consistently forgets to pay me or is very late in doing so, I not only become anxious about my personal finances, I also feel disrespected. After all, when you work hard to meet deadlines (and submit your work earlier than these deadlines), it may seem unfair to be paid late, as well as to have to chase the payment you’re entitled to.
Since this is a common freelancing problem, you may simply put up with it, convincing yourself it’s just an inevitable aspect of being a freelance writer. But this doesn’t mean you don’t feel your self-respect dwindling as a result. Many writers and bloggers become intensely frustrated and despondent when dealing with these kinds of clients. And they might face the dilemma of whether to maintain their self-respect and stop working for a client or to grin and bear it. Again, financial factors often come into play.
Freelance writers and bloggers might also feel a loss of self-respect when they are stuck in low paid work. Self-respect is all about knowing your worth and living in harmony with this knowledge. Nonetheless, it can be challenging for freelance writers and bloggers to fully realise the skills and value can offer. This is due to the persistent self-doubt and self-criticism that writers and bloggers often deal with. As a writer, whether you realise your value but don’t match it with your work or you don’t realise your value and get stuck with unfulfilling work, you run the risk of diminishing your self-respect.
The mismatch between your writing ability and your pay creates a dilemma. You may struggle with the choice of continuing to write for less than what you deserve (perhaps for fear of losing clients if you ask for a higher rate) or to categorically demand from existing and potential clients what you believe is a fair rate.
Freelance writers and bloggers may regularly dwell on these sorts of dilemmas. But there are always solutions to them. Prioritising personal integrity, autonomy, creativity, passion, quality, and self-respect doesn’t have to result in financial losses or job insecurity. By creating an action plan on how to pursue work that aligns with these values, you can ensure that your freelance writing and blogging is both fulfilling and sustainable.