Monday, September 10, 2007

The Downside to Freelancing

Beautiful as freelancing is, it's not a perfect job. Actually, my dog has the only perfect job -- she can sleep whenever she pleases, gets a free lunch every day, and can go on squirrel chasing breaks at any time of the day.

Here are the (few) things I don't like about freelancing.

1. Lack of a regular paycheck. I have an editing job that pays me two weeks after I submit the invoice, and I usually have at least one project per week. That's about as regular as the paychecks get, though. After that, it is a crap shoot. My husband greets me each day with "Get any checks today?" A funny story about me and paychecks: the checks tend to arrive when I'm out of town. When we were on spring break in March, there were $4,000 in checks that were delivered the day we returned. When I was in Seattle in June, another $4,000 arrived. A weekend trip to Baltimore, came home to 3 checks. I'm waiting for a ton of money. I should get out of town.

2. The see-saw income. I'm beginning to build up a regular client list, but it doesn't mean all months are created equal. Not every publication is monthly. Not every article will pay the same. Sometimes I get a surprise one-time assignment. Some months are very good. Some are not so good. I'm in a down month right now (although my calendar is slowly filling), immediately following my best month ever. It's one reason so many writers diversify their work.

3. No paid days off. Bottom line, if I don't work, I don't get paid. And the truth is, there are a lot of days where I might be working and I don't get paid. Like today. I'm marketing. I'm setting up interviews. I'm working on queries. The interviews might be the only thing I'm doing that will bring in an income, but that income won't actually "happen" until I write and send the article.

4. No back up. One day this winter, I woke up and felt miserable. I wanted to sleep, but there were things on my schedule that absolutely needed to be done. I couldn't depend on a co-worker to back me up. It's just me. While I like that independence, there are days when I'd like to be able to say, "Hey, I need to juggle these four things, can you help me out?"

5. Lack of respect. I don't usually give a flying fig what people think, but a lot of people who don't understand freelancing think that I a) don't have a real job and b) don't do anything all day and c) jobs just fall into my lap. And then of course, the words just magically appear on the page. When those people are your friends and family, it's hard to shrug off the comments. That's why it is so important to connect with people who understand, which I'll touch on next time.


Phil said...

regarding back-up, contact me at (Phil who comments on Deb NG's blogs). I may have a win-win situation for you.

Patti said...

love it when the checks roll in...and ditto on the fam comments...sheesh.

Lori said...

Sue, it'll get better. It used to bug me when people were blase about my job, but now I'm too busy to be bothered. In fact, I'm so busy, they realize I work my tail off more than they would at their "real" jobs.

The marketing will work. I'm so inundated now I'm actually passing work off to writer friends. First time ever I've had to do that!