Inkwell Editorial

“The Struggle Is Real”: One Newbie’s Experience & Advice for Aspiring Freelance Writers

Published by Yuwanda Black, Site Editor

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The following is a guest post by Raymonda Rice.

Sweet Home Alabama

It was the perfect summer day with clear, blue skies. It was one of those Alabama, summer days that was perfect for sitting under the shade of your front porch and sipping on some cold, sweet tea.

A Typical Day … A Turning Point

However, I had to drag my butt up at 5 a.m., struggle to get my daughter out of bed, and then rush out the door by 7 a.m. to ensure that both she and I got to our destinations on time. I had to fight rush hour traffic and listen to an endless stream of complaints from an 8-year-old who couldn’t understand why she had to wake up so early during summer vacation.

I started thinking about some upcoming doctor appointments and I was grinding my teeth hoping my supervisor would allow me the time off that I needed. It is exceptionally hard to get time off in the medical field. Not only that, both doctors I work for had full schedules and had even double booked some appointments. The patients turned out to be difficult that day and a lot of them were complete jerks.

Becoming a Freelance Writer: Advice for NewbiesI was stressed. Stressed by having to fight traffic! Stressed by having to figure out childcare arrangements for my daughter! Stressed by having to take care of a sick parent! Stressed about how to make sure I kept my job while handling all the other responsibilities that come with being a single mother!

I should not be stressed on such a beautiful day, I thought. I should be out, at a park, enjoying the summer day with my daughter while working from my Chromebook. That’s what I should have been doing – not trying to figure out how to beg for a day off. Not fighting rush hour traffic to hit a time clock to deal with grumpy people.

I knew then that it was time for me to make a change in my career. I had always wanted to be a writer but I had so many people around me telling that I would never make money from writing. No one ever denied my talent, but they did question my ability to make a sustainable income. I let the fear of not being able to survive stop me from pursuing my dream.

Facing the Fear … and Making the Decision Anyway

But, after ten years, I had finally reached my breaking point. I decided to pursue the one thing that would make me happy – writing. I knew that being a published author would take some time: first, I had to write a book.

There was no telling how long it would take me to write a book, market it, and get some sales. So, I wanted to look for something more practical but I had no idea where to start. Though Yuwanda taught me that I didn’t have to sacrifice either dream with her article, I knew that it would be best as a new freelancer to focus on one thing at a time.

“How do I become a freelance writer?”

Yes, I googled that. It wasn’t a fruitful search, however, as I was led to an article about content mills. I discovered that I could earn money by writing content mills. The article even told me that I could make a living doing that. I was excited to finally have a way in!

Well, after seven articles, I soon discovered that was a big, fat lie. I spent several hours researching one article only to make $7.70. That’s right: I only made $7.70 for several hours of research on a subject I didn’t really care about. There was no money or satisfaction to be found with working for content mills.

The Secret to Success … For Me

So after that bust, I almost gave up. Yet, giving up is what I’ve done my entire life. I’ve always given up something I wanted to do for the sake of other people. Well, it was time for me to be selfish. And I think that’s something that new freelance writers need to be to a certain degree.

Be selfish. You are an awesome writer so let possible clients know that you are. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Demand to be paid no less than $50 for those 500-word articles. Tell your kid that you’re not going to buy those $100 Legos to add to the millions of Legos already scattered across her floor. Use that money and take a course. Find mentors. So what if your freeloading brother needs $20? Put that money towards a mentor. Live for you! Be selfish and run after your dreams with your arms wide open. Because this is exactly what I’m doing. I’m working hard to create a future where my daughter and I can both be happy together.

Like I said earlier, breaking into this field can be frustrating, especially if you feel like you have no marketable skills. But those thoughts are really self-limiting. You don’t need to have specialized knowledge of SEO to be a writer. You don’t need a background in financial planning. The only thing you need is time, an Internet connection, Google, the ability to write — and heaping dose of persistence. Never, EVER give up!

If you’re stuck on the fact that you don’t have any marketable skills, then sit down and map out a business plan. It’s what I did. Okay, mine wasn’t a legitimate business plan. I just call it that because it sounds much cooler. I basically got my work schedule and wrote on the back of it my mission statement, my goals and my target audience. As cliché as it may seem, it really helped me define where I wanted to take my writing and made me think about what it would take to accomplish those goals.

I recommend every new freelance writer that isn’t sure about what it is you want to write about to start with a business plan. Ask yourself, “What can I bring to the table that will help other people?”

Once you can answer that question, half the battle is already won. I know it can be hard. I know it can be difficult. But if this is something that you want, then you have got to want it more than anything else in the world and you are going to have to work for it.

About the Author: Raymonda currently works as a full-time nurse. She is also a single mother and is just beginning her journey into freelance work. Follow her progress at noodlepower: on writing and other such things.

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Posted on July 13, 2015 
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