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How Two Simple Words Will Change Your Life as a Freelance Writer

Read Time: 2 min

Fill in the blanks describing yourself.

“I am a ___ ___.”

You said “freelance writer,” didn’t you?

A year ago I would have said the same thing. However, I’ve adopted a new outlook on my career that has transformed my life as a freelance writer.

The two simple words that changed everything: business owner.

Say it once with me. I am a business owner.

Are Freelance Writers Really Business Owners?

I know what you’re thinking. How can you be a business owner if you don’t own a business? The truth is that if you’re a freelance writer, you already have a business even if you don’t realize it. The U.S. Small Business Administration says:

[A sole proprietorship] is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual with no distinction between the business and you, the owner. You are entitled to all profits and are responsible for all your business’s debts, losses and liabilities.

Does this sound like you? It should.

As long as you’re working for clients on a contract basis (and not employed by them), you run your own business as a sole proprietor.

How Does This Idea Help You?

Now that you’re a business owner as opposed to a freelance writer, you’re going to notice a few changes in your life.

1.   You’ll increase your rates.

No business would charge $10 per hour for quality content, so why would your business charge that? You’re a business, not a charity. When I changed my ideals, this rate increase made sense to me, and I immediately landed clients willing to pay me more.

2.  You’ll no longer receive blank stares.

When people ask what you do for business and you say you’re freelance writer, you probably hear something like, “No, what do you do to make money?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could say, “I run my own web-based content writing business” and watch their jaws drop?

Even though I’d been freelance writing for three years before adopting this mentality, people suddenly started congratulating me on my business when I began calling myself a business owner.

3. You’ll create a strong online presence.

For a long time, I never gave much thought to having a writer website or engaging on social networks. What good was it to me when I could find clients on my own? When I started thinking of myself as a business, I realized that no business goes without a website, and I’ve created a stronger online presence because of it.

4. It will boost your confidence and happiness.

Did you know that 77 percent of small business owners are happier than the average worker? I suspect this is because you control your environment. When I started thinking of myself as a business owner and realized that I controlled my rates, clients, and projects, I suddenly felt capable and worthy of so much more.

You are a business owner, and you better believe it!

Still having a difficult time getting in the mindset of a “business owner?” Share your concerns in the comment section.

This post was originally published at The Writing Realm, Alicia's now-retired blog for writers.

9 thoughts on “How Two Simple Words Will Change Your Life as a Freelance Writer”

  1. Thanks for sharing your post Alicia. 🙂

    No matter what we choose to call ourselves when marketing our services, it’s so important that freelance writers realize we really are business owners. That comes with responsibilities. But it also comes with great rewards. 🙂

    Reply
  2. I hope aspiring freelancers read this post because the term ‘freelance writer’ can have a negative connotation, like “starving artist.” Shift your mindset to one of business owner, but make sure you understand what it means to be a business owner.

    Reply
  3. The term freelance writer is a long honored and understood term. Calling myself a ‘business owner’ in no way distinguishes me. If I wanted to say ‘I own a freelance writing business’ I’d be closer to what you suggest.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    Reply
    • I think “I own a freelance writing business” is a good way to put it.

      But I’d have to disagree with you that the term freelance writer is honored and understood. I’ve had very little experience with people understanding what “freelance” means.

      Reply
      • I fall somewhere in the middle on this one. “Freelance writer” is a well-known term. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s a frequently-searched-for term. I have no problem using it, and I actually embrace it. The “business owner” issue, to me, seems more internal. Most new freelancers I meet don’t think of themselves that way. And while freelancing goes beyond business — it’s an all out lifestyle choice — when you think of yourself as a business owner, you tend to act more like one.

        In the end, I think context is what really matters. If you’re introduced to someone new and they ask what you do, calling yourself a “business owner” might resonate with them more than “freelance writer.” People have a lot of assumptions about what freelancers do, who does this kind of work, and how much we earn. On the other hand, when it comes to reaching prospects, you have to know your target market. Buyers aren’t likely searching for “business owners.” But they might be searching for “freelance writers.” Even better, I’d narrow it down — “freelance ghostwriter,” “freelance business writer,” “freelance blogger,” etc. The best recipe for success would seem to be a balance between how we think of ourselves on a personal level and knowing how to reach clients based on how they view us, or search for us. Just my $.02 of course.

        Reply
  4. Great insights, Alicia.

    It’s hard for some writers to accept that they’re running a business. When I encounter pushback from these writers, I suggest that there are only two choices: either they’re running a business, or their writing is a hobby. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.)

    If it’s a business, they need an accountant, who can explain things like legitimate expenses for which they can claim, and amortization — investing in their business.

    Of course, the first rule of business is that you need to stay in business. It means charging appropriately, so that you not only cover all your business expenses, insurance, and taxes, but make a profit too.

    It’s worth taking a small business course. It helps you to separate the mindset of creativity, from the demands of a business. Talking to other small business owners helps, too. I get a lot of great ideas from my hairdresser, who’s not only very creative, but also very hard-headed when it comes to her business. 🙂

    Reply

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