Photo: Roma Black/Shutterstock

15 Signs You’re a Freelancer

by Bryce Emley Apr 15, 2014
1. You have unrealistic concepts of time.

No, that post can’t be written in 20 minutes. That article will really take 3 hours with edits. That blog series will need to be rewritten, twice, so don’t even try to estimate it. Wait, it’s 4:50? I can fit in another draft…

2. You’re actually afraid of hemorrhoids.
3. There’s a novel/memoir/poetry collection/etc. in your digital back pocket.

No writer got into writing so they could do copy or content or columns for the rest of their lives. This was just the thing that paid.

4. Some days, walking to the bathroom is your only form of exercise.
5. You resent portrayals of writers.

Freelancers are a completely different beast from the pigeonholed writers you see on screens, usually somewhere well between the self-destructive Robert-Downey-Jr.-Zodiac journalist and the tortured-academic-Jeff-Daniels-Squid-and-the-Whale novelist.

6. You resent the success of fictitious writers.

Most of us work hoping to eventually make an income that resembles middle class, so when Hannah Horvath gets a book deal or Owen Wilson gets his novel praised by Gertrude Stein, you start making up reasons why it would ‘never happen like that’ in real life — even if Midnight in Paris could feasibly happen.

7. You’re really tired of explaining to people ‘what you do.’

“So, what do you do?”

“…I’m a [muffled response].”

“A what?”

“…I’m a — uh, freelance writer.”

“Wow, that’s cool. I wouldn’t have pinned you for a writer; you look nothing like Ethan Hawke.”


“So, like, who do you write for?”

“Some websites you don’t know and some magazines you don’t read and a few companies you can pretend you’ve heard of.”

“Cool. I’m gunna wait silently for someone else to talk to me.”

8. You’re really tired of explaining ‘what sort of stuff you write.’

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a…writer.”



“So, like, what sort of stuff do you write?”

“Like, everything.”

“Like, novels and stuff?”

“Uh, well yeah, but, not for, like, work.”

“Oh. Then what do you write?”

“Oh, you know, like — blogs and emails and articles and stuff.”

“That’s a job?”


9. You’ve had free business cards made so you can enter contests for free lunch.
10. You have a ‘system’ for your clothes.

To go with the sweatpants/shorts and hoodie that are worn constantly and never washed, there’s the comfortable ‘work’ t-shirt and underwear that get cycled once a week, and if I actually leave the house I put on ‘real’ clothes then change back into the ‘work’ ones later, meaning I live in my version of pajamas. Is this just me? Great.

11. You think you’re a lot better at scheduling than you really are.

Whoops, didn’t account for the 16 urgent emails, chatty mailman, extra episode of Frisky Dingo at lunch, and the dog vomiting on the laundry after eating your underwear — the ‘real’ underwear you left out because you only wore them for like an hour yesterday before changing back into your ‘work’ underwear, and you were going to wear them out again tonight.

12. You’re irrationally snobbish about your work hours.

On one hand, you can’t go back to an office job because it’s so liberating to not have to wake up on time or stay late or have a standard workweek — but then you end up waking at 8:30, cutting out at 5, and taking weekends off, anyway. Somehow it’s different, though, I swear.

13. You’re irrationally snobbish about your schedule.

One of the best things about freelancing is working your own schedule. I can work any days I want! Woo! And then you have to have an errand day in the middle of the week under constant, pulse-throbbing anxiety because it’s killing you to take an entire day off.

14.You’ve forgotten how awful commuting is.

One day your internet goes out and you have to drive to a café eight minutes away, and you curse the whole way because of all the time it’s wasting.

15. The idea of buying lunch is absurd.

I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m making a big mistake even when I eat lunch out while traveling. Such is being spoiled by having leftovers and an entire kitchen at your disposal with no set lunch hours.

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