A writer is anyone who puts pen to paper, whether for enjoyment, artistic talent, creative outlet, volunteer work or pay. Paid writers, employed full time by one employer, might work for a newspaper, magazine, advertising business, or any other business which needs a full time writer on staff. A freelance writer is simply a writer who acts as a small business or independent contractor; he sets his own pace, seeks out his own work, and pays no one but himself.
A freelance writer might work full time as a writer or have a completely different daytime career. He or she might simply write for fun, jotting down poems, posting online blogs, or trying his hand at short fiction. He or she might be a stay-at-home parent, college student or shut-in. Whatever his choice, the freedom one finds in working this way is part of the appeal.
There is a large market from which a freelance writer can choose, and the sky is the limit as to what type of genre or how much work a given writer might have at any given time. One whose specialty is fiction might dabble in poetry, short stories or e-books, or might have an ongoing novel in the works. Many publishers will accept fiction but most freelance writers agree it is a much harder market to break into.
Non-fiction is everywhere, both online and in print: magazine articles, books, advertisements, business proposals, marketing plans, manuals, contracts and web content. Articles might be entertaining, informational, or instructive. A non-fiction freelance writer will have a much better chance of finding work than a one specializing solely in fiction.
A freelance writer might have freedom that a formally employed worker does not, but with that freedom comes much responsibility. Writing is only part of the job. The writer must keep track of his own income and taxes. Money is a constant issue because work is sporadic and always changing. Many publishers communicate clearly with their freelance writers, offering work, keeping set payment schedules and explaining any changes in policy, while other employers might not respond to queries or send payment in a timely manner. Often a brilliant article will be turned down simply because the monthly quota has already been filled.
Freelance writers must also have self-discipline. When not writing, the writer must always be seeking out new leads, opportunities and advertisements for writers. Those in this job must have the fortitude and determination to press on and keep writing.