Here's a situation I've seen a lot in the last few years:
The economy sucks. My company had to downsize. I got laid off. But I still need to pay my bills and support my family. I can't get another job in this job market. So I'll try freelancing.
I keep looking at job boards and applying for everything I see. But no one seems to be paying well, and I can't land enough gigs to make ends meet. So where exactly is this elusive money?
On one hand I feel bad for people in this situation, where freelancing seems like the only interim possibility between Job A and Job B. I know what it's like to struggle and wonder where the next rent payment is coming from. On the other hand, it makes me want to beat my head against the wall when I hear stories like these because it highlights common ignorance about the freelance life.
Newsflash: Freelance writing (or any kind of freelancing) is not a quick money game. It's not "easy" money either. If it was a simple trick to go out and get freelance clients to pay your bills, a lot more people would move into freelancing. But it doesn't work that way. Freelancing isn't a temp job. It's a business. And unless you're prepared to treat it as such, it's highly unlikely that you'll earn enough to support yourself or your family, even in the short-term.
Now look. I'm not against people turning to freelancing if they lose a job, as long as they're qualified and not leading clients on. But what I hate to see is someone thinking freelancing is going to be a quick fix for their problems or save their skin in some way when they have no idea what it really involves.
So please. Crappy economy or not, don't jump into freelance writing on a whim because you don't know what else to do. Think it through as much as you'd think through accepting a job you might be stuck in for the next ten years. Think about the tax implications. Think about the marketing you'll have to do, especially in the beginning. Think about whether or not you really have the discipline to work alone at home (many people do not).
If you can handle all of that, can take it seriously, and understand that good money rarely comes around immediately, freelancing might be the right option for you and your situation. But if you're doing it solely out of desperation and you really don't know what it takes to succeed in this kind of work, try something else first. You might cause more financial problems by falling into freelancing unprepared than you would by leaving it alone from the start.
If you do go into freelancing, who knows? Maybe (like many of us) you'll find that you love it too much to go back to the 9-5 grind anyway.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.
Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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