The Lean Years Are Starting To Pay Off

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Freelance writing is one of the most difficult ways to make a living, but somehow I have persevered. There have been many times when I wanted to give up completely, when I swore that I was getting out of this business for good, when the stress was overwhelming, when I thought I was going nowhere. I told everyone I was going to quit. I posted rants of Facebook. I lamented the disintegration of the publishing and print journalism industries. I applied for full time jobs and attended interviews. I even came close to being hired a few times. I bitched. I griped. I kvetched.

But always I knew that until I got hired somewhere it would have to be business as usual with my freelancing work. I couldn’t give it up until a worthy replacement arrived. But on the other hand I knew that if i could just secure more steady gigs, with better pay rates, I could still be content to freelance. The only problem was money. My only motive for returning to the normal 9-to-5 working world was a steady paycheque and benefits package. If I could make just as much freelancing, or even more, shouldn’t I be happy to continue as I am? Doesn’t freelancing come with it’s own set of benefits?

I may not have health insurance, but I can sleep in til 9 every day, take time off whenever I want, and I am not beholden to anyone if I want to pack up my things and work at a cafe for the afternoon. In the past, the corporate working world has not been kind to me. Almost every job I had was a temporary contract with low pay. Freelancing was a way out of the misery and taking control of my life in true, entrepreneurial fashion.

And the years have been tough. If you saw my financial records you would wonder how the hell I managed to make ends meet. The first 2.5 years have not been easy. They have been fraught with hardships, loneliness, frustration, disappointment, and stress, stress, stress.  But I always held on thinking that, yes, someday all this hard work will pay off. Someday the breakthrough will happen. Someday the clouds will dissolve and I will be able to call myself successful. Now it appears I am reaching that tipping point.

Two weeks ago I contracted two new clients. These are not newspapers or websites, but digital media agencies. They are both sources of steady work for which I do not have to research pitches for, and they both offer decent pay rates. It is so refreshing to finally find good clients after sifting through so many low ballers paying pennies per word. With this new business, I was able to stop writing for some clients that paid less and didn’t provide me with much work at all.

But it doesn’t end there. Since then, I have been contacted by three more clients interested in taking me on, and one of them has yielded another steady gig where I will be writing several posts a week and the work is relatively easy. Now that I have almost three years of freelancing experience and my name has appeared in several big papers, I am finding that it’s a lot easier to find new clients and I receive responses to more of my emails. Soon I might have to start turning away new business because I have more than I can handle!

The lean years are starting to pay off. I have been through some very tough times, some very lonely times, some very poor times, but those days are at an end as I am now reaching a point where I can say, yes, I am successful.


4 thoughts on “The Lean Years Are Starting To Pay Off

    LadyBird~Ink Business Writing Solutions said:
    November 1, 2014 at 9:25 am

    That’s great to hear…and gives me hope 🙂

    Lisa Melsted said:
    November 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I’m at the 1.5 year point and feeling the same way – it’s tough, but I’m loathe to return to full-time work I know I won’t like. One thing I think we need to do as writers is take more of a stand as a group against low pay rates. This is hard work that requires ideation and every writer who takes pennies on the dollar betrays the rest of us. We need to demand to be treated better and not let our work be commoditized and devalued in the marketplace…

    jnawlins said:
    November 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I am so glad that your hard work and perseverance are paying dividends. I have had my ups and downs over the past 15+ years and am seriously considering throwing in the towel. But your post gives me hope. said:
    November 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I can relate to this post. I’m in the early stages of my freelancing career. It’s hard to transition to an irregular paycheck. Too often, money is on my brain.
    I’m glad you seem to have turned the corner. I look forward to the day when I can say the same.

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