In difficult economic times we are faced with difficult decisions about what we do for a living. We may have enjoyed the freedom of freelancing, but now want a steady paycheque. We may have a full-time day job, but are concerned about the direction that the company is taking and may want to take the plunge to freelancing full-time. What is right for you?
The major downside to working full-time right now is that you may not be working full-time for long. Most of us have experienced extra pressure at work due to the lack of people at the office to help out with merely the promise that our job will be there for us to keep us hanging on. If you feel that your company’s position is precarious at best, start prepping both your resume and your portfolio for freelancing should things go south. Besides, you’ll always feel better knowing that you have freelancing to rely on rather than the gaping abyss of nothing that most office workers are trained to be fearful of. Believe it or not, your work performance will actually improve if you know that you have something to fall back on.
The best news for freelancers right now is the tanking economy. Yes, we’re vultures, but the facts are that work remains to be done at companies even when the people who are supposed to be doing the work are laid off. We’re cheaper than hiring an employee full-time and we can usually get the job done on time and under budget. Companies are starting to wise up to this and more of them are posting ads for freelancers.
Don’t go with your first instinct and take cheap jobs, unless you are just starting out and building your portfolio. Basically, if I haven’t posted it here, it’s too cheap for you. No matter who you are. I know I’ve just ruled out most jobs on Elance and Guru but there’s a reason for that – cheap buyers use these sites and generally get what they pay for. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that you can get freelance jobs simply by picking up your phone or trolling this or other freelance job listing sites without paying any membership fees.
Sit down and do a budget based on what you spend for bills, groceries, and entertainment. If you feel that you can meet this budget through a freelance income, go for it. If you don’t feel that you can, start doing it part-time to build up a portfolio so that if you decide to do it in the future, you can. If you feel that you can meet your budget, go for it.
Do a Little of Both
For me, the ideal freelance mix is half a day of steady gigs and half a day of new projects. This is my goal. I’ve managed to get it up to about a quarter of my day on steady gigs and the rest of my day on new projects and self-marketing. Blogging on your own blogs, if you have niche topics that you would consider yourself an expert in, can also earn you some advertising revenue on the side as well as serving as active portfolio pieces for potential clients. You won’t get rich doing this, but it can’t hurt you either. Blogging definitely keeps you practicing your craft and honing your skills. Pretty soon you will find yourself commanding higher rates and you can do away with the cheaper jobs entirely.
For others, a part-time job may fill in the mix quite nicely. Part-time telecommuting jobs are usually out there in the form of transcription services, search engine marketing and other items that can be done over the internet. Most are eager to hire writers as they already know that they have the language skills down. Apply to as much as you can and something will stick to the wall – don’t ever be afraid that you are applying to too much unless your slate is truly full.
What Does It Take to Succeed
Persistence, a certain amount of sales acumen and of course writing skill will ensure that you “make it” as a freelance writer. I will be honest and slightly insulting for a moment – I would say that a good 50% of the websites for writers that I have seen out there sport writing samples that I wouldn’t feed to my cat. I am one of those perfectionist types but if you have any modicum of actual skill, you will probably succeed. I get the feeling that a lot of people just take up freelance writing because they think it is an easy work-at-home job, not because they have real skill at it. Writing skill isn’t something that you can learn either – you either have it or you don’t. Any writers reading this will know what I am talking about and I am sorry if I have offended anyone. However, if you don’t feel that you have writing skill, you should probably stick to the full-time job as you either do not have the necessary confidence or skill to make it.
You also need razor-sharp focus. You will have many balls in the air as a freelance writer and you must have the ability to organize and focus on your top priorities. If you need people to tell you what to do, this isn’t the career path for you. There will also be many times where you have to tell your family to buzz off and leave you alone to work – if you can’t handle that it is best to bow out now.
For those of you who have read this far and have dismissed these obstacles as minor, congratulations. I hope that you make it as a freelance writer and I really hope that some leads from my site help you to get there. The only way I am looking to monetize this site is through ads, so don’t worry that I’m some used car salesman looking to list-build and do whatever the internet marketing kids are calling things these days – I’m a writer and I want to help other writers. End of story. Let’s all get through these harsh times together as best we can.