The State of Freelancing: 10 Lessons One Fired Editor Learned in Her First Year as a Freelance Writer

Some freelancers choose this career; others are forced into it by a job loss. That’s what happened to the freelance writers featured in today’s piece. She worked for a magazine. She lost her job, along with five of her co-workers. In fact, all of the editors in her department were let go; except for one. Two took buyout packages, the rest were simply let go (she was one).

Following are some things she learned.

I. Niche It: In my experience, it’s much easier to get writing jobs if you specialize in a niche. Ms. Friedman’s experience bears this out. In her post, she writes:

Think about how all the assignments you take are adding up to a professional narrative—if editors have a clear sense of what you frequently write about, you’ll be more likely to leap to mind when they’re looking for a writer on those topics . . .

When you niche it, you make the job of those giving out writing assignments (eg, editors, content managers, etc.) much easier. How/why? Consider this — many of these professionals deal with 5, 10 or 15 different freelancers at one time.

So if they know they can always call on Yuwanda for real estate content, Ann for financial content and Cheryl to cover fashion, then it makes their job much easier because they don’t have to go on the hunt for a new writer every time they have a need for a post/article on a certain topic.

How I Earned Thousands of Dollars as a Freelancer by “Making It Easy” On My Client

I experienced this first-hand when I ran my editorial staffing agency in New York years ago. My old employer, a legal publishing firm, became a client. Of course, I knew the operations manager.

Any time they he had a project that had to be outsourced, he called us (for (SGML) coding, keyboarding, proofreading/editing). He did so, in part, because he didn’t have to get a contract signed beforehand for each project; worry about how to get it to us (we agreed to always do pickup and drop off); and worry about it being done right.

If he hadn’t called us — a known entity — he would have had to go through the hassle of getting a contract signed beforehand EVERY TIME; call a courier to pick up and drop of the project (and check to ensure that it was picked up/delivered/returned); and  worry about the quality of what was turned in — which could have reflected poorly on him as he was the operations manager.

By using my firm, a known entity, he avoided a lot of hassle.

Even though some of this can seem like “no big deal,” remember, as humans, most of us like what’s easy and comfortable. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy or irresponsible; it just means dealing with a known entity makes life a heck of a lot easier. And when you’re dealing with numerous freelancers — on top of other duties — going with “the writer who’s skill and quality you know” just makes sense.

See what I mean?

II. Stabilize Your Income: I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and let me tell ya, it can be an up and down existence. But, that doesn’t mean you have to play that game. Find a way to stabilize your income. Ms. Friedman advice on this front is to get a column or a recurring gig.

My advice is to create your own products, eg, ebooks, seminars, webinars, podcasts, etc. The point is, just because you freelance, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t diversify your income streams.

I have three income streams – in ADDITION TO writing for clients, ie, ebook sales; affiliate marketing and e-classes/seminars.

III-X. Learn the 8 other lessons from this writer’s first year as a freelancer.

An Important Takeaway Lesson from This Freelancer’s Experience

Freelancing Is a Secondary “Job Option” for a Number of Reasons: The world is becoming one in which freelancing is turned to in order to make up for the declining standard of living or make ends meet between jobs. In the words of Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, “This [freelancing] is just part of the way the whole work landscape is shaping up.”

In my opinion, those who embrace this workforce change sooner rather than later will position themselves nicely to fully capitalize on it.

FYI, here are 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started freelancing.

Share Stories about Freelancing

See an interesting story in the news about freelancing? Or, want to share your story as a freelancer? Send it to us via the Contact link on every page of this site, or in an email to info**at**InkwellEditorial.com.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.


Advice from Successful FreelancersP.S.: Get Advice from Real Freelancers? If you want input from those who are actually “living the freelance life,” this manual is perfect. It reveals the stories of real freelancers. They divulge how they got started; why they decided to go out on their own; how they acquire clients; under what circumstances they would/would not go back to working for someone else — and more.

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