Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 10 Great Things About Freelance Writing and 10 Awful Things About Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is the greatest job in the world.  Most days.  There are those moments where it is only slightly better than sticking my tongue into a turned on toaster.  I would love to brag about my career, but I feel it is only fair to balance it with some of the downsides.  Even if with these downsides, it really is the only job I want to have for the rest of my life.

If you've ever thought about being a freelance writer then here are 10 great reasons to dive in, but also here are 10 just as good reason to stick with your day job.

1. Good - Variety of Work:  Sure, you're always writing, but you often get to write on a wide variety of things.  I've written everything from company brochures to press releases for upcoming musicals to advertisements to parenting columns to film reviews to humour pieces.  This is only a small piece of all the available opportunities for writers, including of course every writer's dream of a book.

Bad - Constant Pitching:  Yes, there is a lot of work and opportunities out there.  But you need to constantly brain storm the ideas and then send out pitches to publishers, editors and clients in hopes they will be suckered into paying you.  There are examples of publishers seeking out writers to do a project for them, but those writers usually have names like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.

2. Good - No Limit to Amount You Can Make:  You're freelance, so there isn't a set amount of pay you'll receive every two weeks.  Once you start to get a positive reputation and a modicum of recognition, then you can start landing larger and higher paying clients. 

Bad - No Limit to How Little You Can Make:  If you have a few weeks of no clients then that is a few weeks of no way to pay the heating bills.  Clients and publishers are also notoriously cheap when you're first starting out, which means you better not be too attached to that idea of a social life.

3. Good - Flexible: If you decide that Wednesday is better suited for making a pop tart fortress, then that is exactly what you can do.

Bad - Only Get Paid for Work You Produce:  There are no sick or personal days when you are your own boss.  Good luck finding a client to pay for you to make forts out of pastries.

4. Good - No Boss:  Nobody is telling you what to do, and you can decide when to write.

Bad - Easy to Be Distracted:  Cute YouTube videos about dancing kittens won't finish your sales copy.

5. Good - Editors:  When you have a good editor, you have someone that treats you like an equal that is willing to help mold your work into the very best it can be.  You'll get great advice and guidance, but they'll also be open to your own suggestions.

Bad - Editors:  Sometimes they're the eternally unemployable son of the owner.

6. Good - Hard work leads to huge reward:  You'll have those nights where the words just won't be coming to you or you seem to just be battling to get the copy done.  You end up staying up far too late and you're absolutely exhausted.  It was war.  But then you look at that copy and suddenly realize this may have been the greatest thing you have ever written.

Bad - Hard work leads to shit:  You'll also have other nights that are just as long and just as tiring and you worked just as hard.  You look at your finished product and want to burst into tears.  You wouldn't even force your mortal enemy to read this garbage.  But deadline is 10 minutes away, and you have to send out something.

7. Good - Work Gets Read by a Huge Audience:  I'm still humbled and astonished there are people who want to read my work.  One of the greatest natural highs occurs when a site administer/editor tells you that your article is the highest viewed piece of the month.  

Bad - Work Gets Read by a Huge Audience:  What if all these people hate what I write, and it ruins my chances of ever getting decent work again?  Sometimes, having a large audience can cause your anxiety to run wild.

8.  Good - Everything Triggers a Story:  When you become a freelance writer, you start to see the world differently.  Your mind is always formulating the next tale to be told.  I often find myself running a personal commentary in my head, and usually am able to find a humorous anecdote in every situation.  Life just seems to be fresh and exciting again when you constantly have a new perspective.

Bad - You Need for Everything to Trigger a Story:  Remember that anxiety thing?  Every few weeks, a part of my brain starts screaming, "What if this is the last great idea you ever have!"  Not fun.

9.  Good - Paid to Do Hobbies:  Your spouse thinks you play too many video games or watch too much TV or eat far too many Cheetos?  That is why you become a professional reviewer, and you must do those things in order to pay the bills.

Bad - Things You Love Become Work:  I haven't watched a movie in almost a year without my "reviewer brain" turned on full blast.

10.  Bad - Lose Time for Personal Creative Work:  You start getting so focused on trying to find writing that pays that you start neglecting the things that made you love writing in the first place.  Writing becomes a job.  You risk neglecting the aspects of writing that personally fulfill you.

Good - You're Making a Living Off Your Passion:  Yeah, this.

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