Freelance Writing Startup Costs

There was a debate launched recently by two writing websites – Men with Pens and Freelance Parent. The issue is about how much it takes to start a freelance writing career. I’ve taken the time to post on both sites (and the sites are well worth a visit) but the issue has stayed on my mind.

I fully believe it is possible to start many businesses without any money. But there has to be a trade off. For every dime that you don’t spend you will have to invest sweat equity or creativity. These are the only ways to make it happen.

    1. No computer? No problem – visit an internet café, library, neighbor’s house or some other public resource where you can use the internet for free. Check the rules and regulations to see if working on the computers is allowed.

    2. No high speed internet? Plan on the lag – use that time to work on your next project, do creative writing by hand or some chore around the house. Make the wait productive.

    3. No money for conferences? Contact the coordinators of the conference and see if you can volunteer your time for a discount (or free admittance) to the event.

    4. No idea how to get started? Check out some resources at the library. If you can’t find what you need then see if your library has a request list and it if does then add your book needs to the list. Make sure you have the library contact you when the books come in. You can also visit a major book store. Many allow shoppers to sit and read and you can use the opportunity to get some ideas on how to get your writing career started.

    In the end you have to use what you have. Money could make it easier to build your freelance writing career – but most of us wouldn’t be doing this in the first place if we had a bunch of money just sitting around (not for the money any way. There are writers who are just compelled to write no matter what the circumstances).

    Time is money in the sense that if you spend enough time then you can make up for your lack of money. I have to agree with both Men with Pens and Freelance Parent when they suggested that you need a plan B. Writing is not a quick income! It is an ever learning project that can take you to places that you never imagined but that will require things that you never dreamed.

    Starting a freelance writing business – with our without money – is not going to be a walk in the park. You will need back up income (another job, savings or a working spouse) to help insure that you pursue your goals as a writer and not just another paycheck.

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  1. That conference tip is perfect, Kathryn. In my “real life” as a political pundit, I am in and out of DC for conferences that I frankly cannot afford. The first year I would dish the dosh for an all access pass. Now I just get on the “bloggers list” and heck – they even set me up with free Starbucks! Which, as you know, all writers and bloggers mainline into the nearest vein as often as possible.

    I still have to pay for hotel and transportation, but cutting a $500 ticket out of the overall is a make-or-break for my attendance.


  2. Hi Kathryn –

    One year, I was really pinched for funds. A friend recommended me for a scholarship to a conference. There are a few available out there.

    Join groups like ACFW and loops like The Writers View 2. You’ll learn so much. ACFW has online courses for members, and many other perks. ACFW membership costs, but the benefits are well worth the outlay.

    Thanks for the informative post.

    Susan 🙂

  3. Hey Susan,

    Scholarships, grants and endowments are all great for helping out with funding. Each state usually has an ARTS program that offers different types of funding to artists (including writers).

  4. Hey Wendy – glad I’m not the only one. I keep detailed lists of expenses and put it into excel so that all my accountant has to do is fill in the blanks (I could probably file myself but we’ve been audited and I like that back up).

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