Freelancing: It’s Not for Everybody

If you just got laid off, don’t think of yourself as a freelancer by force. In fact, if you don’t want to be a freelancer, immediately begin a job search.Call all your friends, contacts and acquaintances, use LinkedIn and Twitter, post your resume, and do something every day to look for a job. Just don’t call yourself a freelancer.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
(c) Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Calling yourself a freelancer or consultant because you got laid off helps no one. You will not do good work, you won’t have your heart in it, and you will damage the reputation of those of us who freelance or consult full time.

Freelancing is not the place to be for 3 months till you find something better. Printing business cards identifying yourself as a consultant when you don’t know exactly what you are consulting on is not fair to your career or your potential client’s business.

Freelancing is a full-time job of searching for, and working for, a number of clients. Freelancing springs you from the job of commuting, the pressure of pleasing a boss, the worry of promotions or office politics. Freelancing also lets you worry about steady work, increases your stress as you take on multiple clients, all with different priorities, and lets you figure out how to find and keep health insurance. Freelance writing is not for the confused, the weak or the unsure.

For those of us who own our business, who write every day, who make meaning when we write, even if it is for someone else, can’t imagine doing anything else for a living. The risks are not as important as the amazing rewards of tackling new work, completing it and growing with each writing assignment.

There are organizations every freelancer should know about. They can help you find jobs, untangle contracts and provide some help getting the right kind of jobs, jobs that pay well in an age of “everything on the Web should be free.”

The  National Writer’s Union is available for freelancers who make money writing. The fee is a sliding scale, from $120 to $420, depending on your income. Benefits include a job hotline, members’ discussion groups, a press pass, and access to their resources.

The Author’s Guild offers its members free book contract reviews from experienced legal staff, discounted health insurance rates in some states, low-cost website services including website-building, e-mail, and domain name registration, plus some other benefits. First year dues are $90. If you live in New York, Florida or Massachusettes, you can subscribe to health insurance.

You might also want to check out other resources for freelancers.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and certified creativity coach. She runs workshops and seminars training others in business communications.

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