Technical and creative writers have two main employment categories to choose from: freelance and staff writing. Each position has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re struggling with the dilemma of “freelance vs. staff writer” while trying to determine your career path, take into consideration a few differentiating characteristics of each position.
As a staff writer, you can usually count on a consistent salary or hourly pay rate and a guaranteed minimum schedule. You can rely on a specific amount of money each week, regardless of how many assignments you complete. In freelance writing, your income may vary significantly each week depending on assignments availability, price and your self-scheduled workload. Freelance writers often experience drastic highs and lows in their incomes.
Camaraderie in the workplace can be beneficial on both a professional and personal level. Staff writers work in group environments in which help and guidance are readily available and social bonds and friendships are forged. Unfortunately, as a freelance writer you’ll typically be working solo, with only minimal contacts via telephone and email. On the other hand, sometimes office environments lead to conflicts and uncomfortable atmosphere. Working as a freelancer, you are virtually exempt from such occurrences and free of “office-drama.”
Though freelance writing definitely has its advantages, when it comes to benefits staff writing has got freelancing beat hands-down. Professional staff writers generally receive competitive benefits packages. In addition to typical benefits such as medical, dental and vision insurance, they often receive paid sick leave, vacation time and retirement pensions. Freelance writers are independent contractors. This means they work for clients rather than an employer and are responsible for their own benefit plans.
Freelance writers must provide and upgrade their own computers, laptops, printers and office equipment. They also have to absorb the costs of Internet service, software, hardware and maintenance. Freelancers have to pay for all equipment upgrades, utilities, supplies and sometimes office space and furniture. As a staff writer, you’re not responsible for any of this. You are provided with a workspace, computer, office supplies, Internet connection, telephone and in most cases an IT professional.
Even in a casual office setting, staff writers are still required to dress and groom appropriately. In some offices this may even mean formal business wear. Freelancers evade all dress codes because they work in their own space. You can virtually roll out of bed and work all day long in your pajamas as a freelancer and save a fortune on business suits.
If you’re a structured individual who prefers consistency, staff writing is a better choice for you. Staff writers usually have a permanent Monday through Friday daytime schedule. You’ll report to the same facility and work the same hours each work day. Writers who have trouble committing to a regular schedule might be better suited for freelancing. Freelancers work whenever and wherever they please, at any time of day or night. Freelance writers also save money on commuting.
As a staff writer you are required to complete any given assignment. Sometimes, depending on the firm and required content, staff writers get stuck writing about the same topics repeatedly. This can lead to burnout, boredom and poor productivity. As a freelancer, you are able to write for who you want, when you want, about what you want. You have the freedom to pick and choose your own clients and assignments and add variety to your workload.
It takes a very focused and disciplined individual to succeed as a freelance writer. Though you may enjoy the freedom of no one looking over your shoulder, you mustn’t get carried away. In an office setting, supervisors will be quick to keep you on your toes and encourage productivity. Freelance writers are subject to a number of distractions when working alone, such as friends, pets, personal calls and playing on the Internet.