February 12, 2016

What the Game of Thrones Can Teach Freelance Writers


Game of Thrones

Winter is coming.

Game of Thrones, the wildly popular HBO adaptation of the amazing book series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, includes a lesson or two for freelance writers. Actually, other entrepreneurial bootstrappers could learn something from it as well.

Whether you’ve read the books or become utterly obsessed with the series as I have, these quotes will serve to illustrate the point of my ranting:

“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” ~Eddard (Ned) Stark, Lord of Winterfell

Freelance writers should do the job, finish the project, and run the extra mile themselves. Does this mean you don’t want to outsource? Certainly not, although for Ned Stark it means just that. For you, it means you must take personal responsibility for each job you take on as a freelancer.

When your hireling submits his assigned work to you, you must thoroughly and judiciously proofread and edit it before sending it along to the client. This work represents you, your brand, your reputation. Protect it. Put your own sword into the words you send your client.

cersei lannister

There is no middle ground.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” ~Cersei Lannister, Queen of Westeros and wife of King Robert Baratheon

Freelance writers play their own version of the game of thrones and, in some ways, the game we play is just as fierce and it’s oft just as deadly. Play it right, or your business will die at the blade of a better freelancer’s sword.

If you leave the corporate world to freelance full time, you need to go at it full bore. Go at it to win the undying love of your subjects (clients). Execute your duties with the utmost responsibility, integrity, mercy, and justice.


Work your business with all your heart and soul, employing best practice techniques (i.e. integrity) and that certain je ne sais quoi that sets you apart from the turncloaks and the Greyjoys of the freelance world.

Have mercy on clients when they seem too needy or when they need a few extra days to pay – to a point. Here comes the justice part: use your sword to cut loose those clients who abuse your mercy and goodness – always taking, always needing, always wanting it for free.

In other words, do not emulate the beautiful, but evil Queen Cersei.

daenerys stormborn “I don’t know.” ~Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen

Swallow that pill called pride. Lift your head and say, “I don’t know,” when you truly don’t. Do not try to fake it. Faking it ‘til you make it is for other occasions – not for business and making money. Don’t stop at those three words, though. Find out the answer to the thing, concept, or problem. Your current clients, team, and potential clients will respect your frank honesty and the swift authority by which you seek a solution or answer.

And never forget – Winter is coming. Prepare.

Do you watch the Game of Thrones, or have you read the A Song of Fire and Ice series? What have you learned?



About Samantha Gluck

Not only am I the chief editor of this multi-author online magazine, I'm a content creator and social media marketing strategist with a background in journalism, finance, & healthcare. I began my content marketing agency, All Media Freelance, LLC, in 2010 and lead a well-rounded, talented team of multi-channel content strategists and niche writers. I've developed and managed print and digital content projects for health care, fitness, financial services, mental health, non-profit, and automotive publishers, as well as for biotechnology brands.


  1. This was very clever! Being an entrepreneur or freelancer is not for the faint of heart. In my experience, people with desk jobs who get handed a paycheck every week have absolutely no idea how the rest of us live. One study found that workers with desk jobs spend 25% of each day goofing around online. That translates into more than a full day per week spent doing nothing. What drives me nuts is when these people complain about being too busy. HAHAHAHAHA
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    • Nellie,

      Thank you for stopping by. Always an honor to have your gorgeous-ness on my site. I totally agree with you — most people imprisoned in cubicle-land have no idea what it really means to own your business and have sole responsibility for its success and for paying your team. I’ve seen studies that report even higher levels of “goofing off”. I think the level of time wasting has to do with the job itself and the person in the position. Know what I mean? Thankless jobs beget bored, dissatisfied employees. Thanks for sharing, gorgeous!

      XO ~Samantha

  2. I resonated with the following, “Have mercy on clients when they seem too needy or when they need a few extra days to pay – to a point. Here comes the justice part: use your sword to cut loose those clients who abuse your mercy and goodness – always taking, always needing, always wanting it for free.”

    I watched “Game of Thrones” a few times but couldn’t get into the series. It moved kind of slow for me. But I love the cast, costumes, and makeup.

    It takes courage to cut a client loose with your sword of justice. Be fair, just and quick. Stick to the facts and get away as quickly as possible. And don’t take to social media to ‘blast’ a client. The energy you put out there will come back to bite you. Take the high road and move forward as fast as you can. Horse not included. :)

    Nice post!
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    • Amandah,

      I love your comment and the way you tied in your explanation to the sword of justice – swift and merciful. Taking to social media to blast a client (or anyone for that matter, really) is just plain craven (to use a commonly spoken term in GoT) and will likely end up harming you more than it does the client. Sound advice, Amandah. I love the GoT series, but it’s one you must watch from the beginning. Also, I’ve read the first and second books in the series and did so before watching the HBO show. I’m starting on book 3 now. The HBO version of book 3 doesn’t come out until April 2013. I couldn’t survive the wait without the book. ;-)


  3. I’m going to have to start watching Game of Thrones now! Thanks for the post.
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  4. Ashleen Moreen says:

    So excited to watch the Game of Thrones. Let’s find out if it gives us lessons especially to those freelancers. Thanks a lot for sharing!
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    • Another GoT fan! Yea! So glad to have met you, Ashleen. I’m absolutely obsessed with the series (both print and HBO). Yes, let’s see what new lessons we freelancers can learn when Season 3 hits in April 2013.

  5. Love this! I have to admit I set the first book of the Game of Thrones after 100 pages, it was a bit too convoluted for me. But I did that knowing I could watch the series, which is on my list for fall viewing! I usually prefer to read rather than view, but one way or another I’ll catch it.
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    • I’ve heard some others complain of the books convoluted, complex plot. I’ve also heard the same complaints about the series, albeit from different people. I am utterly and completely obsessed and enthralled with the series. I’m now on book four, A Feast For Crows. We’ve seen the first two seasons of the series and, while there are some differences, the series follows the book more closely than I have ever seen done before. The dialogue is even exactly the same in many cases.

      You’ll have to let me know what you think of the series. We purchased both full seasons. I’m going to be so sad when I finish book five. I’ll miss my friends and their lives entwined with mine.

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