FREELANCING- A PERSONAL STORY
I get asked daily by my friends what’s it like not to have a 9-5.
“It’s great,” I always answer.
“But like, what do you do?” They ask.
Well this article is for you guys.
My avoidance of the typical 9-5 job started right after college. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara, and while most of my friends went and got an old school 9-5 job, I didn’t want to take that path. I was offered a job managing a bar that I used to frequent in college and took them up on their offer. People thought I was crazy (and maybe I was) but I was happy. Was it a way to extend my adolescence? Yeah probably, but it was also due to my hope of being able to avoid the rat race that is the 9-5 job.
I worked in the bar industry until I realized I wanted to do something different. So I went and got a proper job, right? Not so much. I had a skill when it came to reading people, and combined with my innate math skills, that made me an extremely successful poker player. I traveled the world, living in Vegas and frequenting the poker rooms of Los Angeles. I was on TV and featured in some poker magazines, but eventually I got tired of that as well. I may just be a restless soul.
LET’S BECOME A WRITER
And that’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I had always dabbled in writing, having finished three screenplays and started multiple blogs. This time, however, I wanted it to be my lone source of income, something that sounds far easier than it really is.
I was living in Las Vegas and started applying for every writing gig you could imagine. CNN/ESPN (fat chance), Bleacher Report, Rant Sports, Poker Magazine, Huffington Post, etc. etc. etc. I spent a solid month applying for full time writing jobs and was rejected by every single one.
That was the moment where I realized it might be time to lower my expectations. I started applying for jobs that would hire me for mere hours per week. Some of these websites paid by the article with no strings attached, so I wasn’t technically an employee. That was probably my first foray into the gig economy. I was writing for websites where I wasn’t an employee and was working a very limited schedule.
I was only working 15-20 hours a week at most, but I was working. And that’s what mattered most! Some of these sites are no longer around, and some sites didn’t make any money and could no longer pay their writers. I had some articles that were published that I was never paid for despite being guaranteed I would. I’ve experienced it all in writing. Before I left Vegas I was able to land a well paying writing gig that I have to this day, and it’s really allowed me to be more choosy.
One of those choices I decide to make was to come write for Veryfier. First and foremost because I think it’s going to be a fantastic app that is likely to go global. I look very forward to the launch in February and suggest you sign up if you have a special skill. Trust me, I get nothing by promoting their app (I’m allowed to write about anything I see fit) but I know a good product when I see one, and Veryfier is just that.
While I may enjoy writing in multiple coffee shops every morning, there have been times where an invoice of mine just sits there and I never get paid. There’s other times where the writing opportunities just dry up for awhile. Being a freelancing writer isn’t as sexy as it sounds.
YOU HAVE TO ADAPT/CHANGE IN THE GIG ECONOMY
As I outlined in my most recent post, if you are going to be part of the gig economy, you are going to have to be willing to change. For a writer, that means you have to be willing to write about anything. For me that’s absolutely true as I’ve had paid writing gigs writing about sports, poker, politics, life as a writer, blogging, and now the gig economy. If you are going to be a freelancer, you can’t just wait till something in your preferred field comes along. You could be waiting a long, long time.
So I wake up every morning, go to my local coffee shop and start writing. It’s more like a 9-5 than I’d probably like to admit, but I am my own boss, and for the most part I can work the hours I want. That being said, there are times where you have deadlines looming, you are behind, and you’ll wish you were sitting in a cubicle instead. Just because I’m a freelancer, doesn’t mean it’s stress free. It’s just that the stress of a boss has been replaced by self imposed stress. That’s a trade off I’ll take any day.
It’s not easy to find a lot of work as a freelancing writer. I’ve never passed the threshold of working 40 hours a week, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has given me more time to finish my first novel, start on my second, and given me time to work on my first love: Underwater Basket Weaving. No, not really.
So here I am, doing something that I love, but probably behind the game financially. Would I go back and tell my 23 year old self to go get a 9-5 and not work at that bar? No, I wouldn’t. It’s led me to this point and writing is one of my true loves. Freedom is another one, and for the most part I have that as well. If I want to go to Santa Barbara or LA for the weekend, I’ve got my job, i.e. my laptop, with me at all times. And not that I imbibe while writing, but I could have a tropical drink with a little umbrella in it any time I want. Will your boss let you do that? Didn’t think so…..
We’ll get back into the nuts and bolts of the gig economy, but I wanted to give you a general idea of where I was coming from and what made me end up here.
90% responsible writer. 25% juvenile delinquent.