While not intended to dismay anyone from becoming a freelance writer, understanding the disadvantages to being a freelance writer can help keep your goals and expectations realistic as you look to either supplement income or earn a living as a full time freelancer.
The first disadvantage is startup cost. Some state business laws will consider freelancing a business, and licensing is required. In the state of Alaska for instance, to declare income as a freelance writer requires the establishment of a business entity, usually called a sole proprietorship. The state business license fee, renewed every two years, is $100. Additionally, a borough business license is required, a modest fee of $50 for every two years. Were you to live inside city limit's a city business license would also be required.
Another disadvantage to being a freelance writer include the need to be a master at budgeting, both of time and money. The more of your income is produced by freelancing, the more budgeting sense is required. Contract freelancing work can come with a deadline and if you agree to the contract you've got to deliver on time. This can produce long nights and early mornings but a decent income. If you decide to make a full time living as a freelancer, chances are you will have plenty of lean months to start and chances are you'll have to put more than 40 hours worth of work in every week without seeing rapid results. This requires being able to endure short term sufferings without losing sight of the long term goal and maintaining motivation and self-discipline.
A minor disadvantage to freelancing is the requirement to pay quarterly taxes. While not required the first year it is required every year thereafter. Filing taxes once per year is a dreaded occasion for all but the natural born accountant but having to prepare taxes four times per year is inconvenient.
The final disadvantage to being a freelance writer is coming to a wall in your path where the line that passes through your mind is, "I just don't want to do this." Either you're too tired, burned out, stressed, bored, broke, hungry or too fed up to write another word much less another article and the blinking cursor on the screen will mock you. Stop. Remember that this is something you agreed to do. Look toward your long term goal and endure your short term sufferings. Reset your fingers to home row and keep typing because there is greater reward beyond the disadvantages to being a freelance writer.