I try and be helpful and friendly to people who contact me asking for help or advice. It’s just in my nature, and it is probably the right thing to do for the business anyway. So, it was nothing new when I began trading emails with a guy who was interested in becoming a freelance writer.
We started with all of the usual stuff. How much money can you make? How do you setup your own web site? Do you actually have to know anything about HTML or SEO? Then, we got down to business.
I recommended that he start writing some things to be used as samples, and to get his web site going. He replied that he would. After a week or so, I emailed him to see how it was going. That is where the wheels fell off the wagon.
He hadn’t gotten around to the web site yet. He had started some articles, but “didn’t like how they were coming out,” so he didn’t have anything he could show me. I’ve heard this all before. My new friend simply hadn’t sat down and done the work to get his freelance business practice going. It isn’t my place to judge, but I don’t need to waste my time either, so I left it with him by sending an email that basically said, let me know when you get those things done and we’ll go from there.
I haven’t heard from him since.
It Is Work
This reminded me of a previous encounter. This one was a face to face meeting where I was describing the world of freelance writing and how I was doing and how much I loved it. There were smiles all around.
Then, I started talking about what my friend should do to get started. The smile started to fade and eventually was replaced by that scrunched up forehead that people get when they look at a long unpleasant list.
“This is just as much work as I do at my job now.”
That was when I realized that there are a lot of people out there who see freelance writing as a way to work less (and some, not at all). They envision an hour of writing in the morning, and maybe another hour in the afternoon, and the rest of the time spent enjoying the sunny summer days. Well, I suppose fantasies are nice, but if this is how you envision your life as a freelance writer, I encourage you to never ever pursue freelance writing with any seriousness, because all it will do is ruin your pleasant daydream.
Freelance writing is work. It is a lot of work. No, it isn’t like lifting and carrying cinder blocks work, but it is work.
It Is Fun – If…
Before I became a full time freelance writer, I spent my working years in two careers, one as a high-end computer consultant, the other as a small business owner financial advisor. I don’t do any less work today than I did when I worked those jobs, but there is one major difference.
I never seem to roll my eyes at my freelance writing business. Why? I like writing. I always have. I like the way I get to specifically explain my thoughts the way I want to. I like the way I can tailor how the words come out and in what order. I like the way I get to talk all at one time instead of hashing out points as they come up. I like to communicate via the page. It is just how I am.
How do you decide if you are cut out to be a freelance writer? I think the easiest test is the email test. The email test works like this.
Has anyone ever called you, emailed you, or spoken to you in person to ask you to TALK to them instead of typing up detailed email messages?
If so, you might be a good freelancer. If not, well, maybe you are just an efficient user of email, but it might also be because you don’t like writing enough to be a happy freelance writer. If you are typing up words somewhere, all the time, you need to really look at how much you enjoy writing. There are a lot of easier ways to make a living than freelance writing, so if you don’t love writing, there really isn’t any point in pursuing it.
If you do decide to join us, then welcome. Please do understand that it will be work, lots of work. Like every other job out there, if you become one of the best, you will not have to work as hard, and the money will come easy. Just keep in mind that is true whether you are a writer, or a lawyer, or a building contractor, or a programmer, or a designer, or a …