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3 things to consider before becoming a freelance writer

October 3, 2011

After nearly 25 years of selling my soul to the devil previously known as corporate America, I am proud to proclaim that I am now a freelance writer. I write news releases. I write newsletters. I am even working on a book. (Isn’t everyone?)

But I will warn you up front. If you think you want to chuck it all and become a freelance writer, you might want to read this and weigh the pros and cons before you decide:

First, know that writers write because they love to write, not because it pays well. The odds that it will make you wealthy are not in your favor. If you are already independently wealthy, then that’s to your advantage. It that’s not the case, you should  keep your day job until you can retire with benefits or until you publish a book that sells well and gets good reviews, whichever comes first. And if that’s not depressing enough, have a bite of this: Only one to four percent of writers get published, and only two percent of those get rich.

Second, a freelance writer can choose who to work with. For example, you can choose to work only for people whose company you enjoy. That’s what I do. It’s a lot less stressful than working with people whom you can’t stand to look at for one more millisecond, let alone eight hours a day, five days a week, for most of your life. In my book (if I had published a book), working as a freelance writer would always win out over climbing the corporate ladder. Putting up with all of those drama queens and queen bees (male and female) day in and day out can cause spontaneous combustion.

Third on my list  — and I think this should be a federal law —  freelance writers should not have to get out of bed before 8 am unless they have been contacted personally by Homeland Security or Publishers Clearinghouse. I say, if you don’t have to get up before  8 to take a shower, wash your hair, eat breakfast, blow-dry your hair, put on a “suit,” apply make-up and fight the traffic to get to work, then why do you need to get up? And if you have to get up later in the day to meet a deadline or three, you can always work in your pajamas. (Major perk!) You can wear your pajamas all day long, as long as you don’t have any face-to-face meetings with your clients, your editor or your agent. (It could happen.) I just throw on a bathrobe to go outside and bring in the newspaper. Or better yet, I read the newspaper on-line, and then I don’t have to leave the house at all.

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