Many people in my life, friends and family, have wondered how on Earth I am actually able to make a decent living as a writer. Everyone has those fantasies, those pipedreams they hope will come true one day. Most of us save those dreams alongside our dreams of winning the lottery or just hold onto them in back of our minds as possible retirement hobbies. I was one of those people, not that long ago. So, that begs the question, what changed?
Whether you intend to be a novelist or a content writer or an affiliate marketer, there is a lot to consider before taking the plunge.
Prepare to Sacrifice
In expounding the pros and cons of working as a freelancer, an article in The Guardian really gets things right when it points out that the excitement of working in your pajamas “wears off pretty swiftly, usually around rent day.” The article goes on to point out that this is about the time that most people realize the level of sacrifice involved in getting a freelancing career off the ground.
I have to admit that my own sacrifices didn’t last a terribly long time. It was less than a year of sleepless nights and weekends spent working before I was able to really make a go of this. I began by working full time in my crappy retail job while writing in the evenings and on weekends. Though this took a lot of time away from my family and hobbies, I decided to focus on creating quality time with them instead of simply quantity. I also reassured myself and everyone around me that it was just temporary. Unfortunately, working smart means making these kinds of sacrifices.
It’s More Than Determination
Pure grit and whole hell of a lot of work are extremely important in making a dream like this come true, but I want to make sure that anyone who reads this remembers that there is a lot more involved. I want to talk about how smart you have to work.
Whether you want to be a freelance writer, coder, website designer or something else along these lines, it’s important to work smart, not just hard.
What Is Working Smart?
Working smart is all about looking at things realistically. If you aren’t retired with a solid income and you haven’t won the lottery and you aren’t still living from home, you shouldn’t just jump into a freelancing career. Take your time. Slowly build up a reputation and don’t quit your day job!
I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. I struggled for a while in a dead-end job I hated before I was finally able to make writing a full-time gig. A lot of people talk about taking a “leap of faith” when moving into a career like this one. If you ask me, that just isn’t smart. In this day and age, it can be very difficult to find another job. If you think you’re going to quit yours, try to be a freelance writer and go back out and get another job if it doesn’t work out, you may be unpleasantly surprised.
I am a strong believer in the law of attraction and putting optimistic thoughts out into the world. At the same time, though, I’m also a believer that “God (or whatever you believe in) helps those who help themselves.” Believing in yourself and that things will work out well doesn’t mean you get to shirk responsibility.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
It’s all about balance. I know that you will feel off-kilter for a little while, working in this way. Your life will definitely be out of balance – mine was. You will be sacrificing some fun time, relaxation time, family time, etc. to pursue your dreams. Though you won’t have a perfect balance during this time, it’s important not to rush things by throwing things so far out of balance that you lose yourself in your work.
It’s okay if it takes a little longer than expected because you need to take some breaks along the way. Your health will always be more important that your career!
In a world of online contract work it is extremely important to make sure that you are looking out for number one. Look, in real life I believe that we should begin with trust and go from there, but in business we have to protect ourselves as best we can. This is why companies have you fill out contracts and agree to certain rules and are, themselves, bound by law to pay you in an adequate and timely manner.
In the land of online freelance work, you have to be the one who does all of that for yourself. Take a few moments to check out this post I wrote about 6 key ways to protect yourself when you are working freelance online – it’ll be worth the time.
Have you already taken the plunge into the industry? Are you dipping your toes into the water slowly? Are you terrified that there are sharks in the water so you haven’t come in yet but have still done your fair share of research? Chances are that you have something to add to this discussion. Please drop a comment below with your ideas, experiences, concerns, or whatever you feel is relevant!