Freelancing is a Hard Business

business valuation

I’m willing to bet most of you think that being a freelance writer is an easy gig. After all, I’m really my own boss, right? I’m doing what I’m good at in life; I work my own hours and set my own schedule; I don’t even have to get dressed in the morning to start working so forget the suit and tie, right? Right?!

Technically, yes, all of that is correct. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and let me just say, so much of it isn’t gumdrops and rainbows. Being a freelance writer is deceptively hard. Some writers quit their “real” jobs to freelance, thinking it’s going to be an awesomely lucrative and flexible way to make money. It’s not.

First, freelance writers seem to be the only people who actually think freelance writing is a real job. If you’re a freelancer, I’ll wager that your family and friends questioned your decision to start freelancing, and perhaps have even told you on more than one occasion to “get a real job”. Other freelancers totally understand what you’re going through, but don’t count on that perspective from the rest of the world.

Also, even people who hire freelancers don’t seem to think those writers are real people doing real work. A lot of people who claim to be “hiring freelancers” are essentially looking for free or dirt-cheap writing, and they have this infuriating tendency to act indignant when a writer dares to ask for a pay rate that’s close to fair compensation for their time and effort.

As a freelancer, it’s up to you to constantly be searching for work and your next source of much-needed income. There is no guarantee of work. And when you do find paying work, chances are it’s not going to be “fun” writing. You will not be composing whimsical fantasy tales or steamy romance pulp novels for pay. Most likely, you’ll be writing instruction manuals for a series of low-quality foreign inkjet printers, or something equally mind-numbing.

And if you want to legally be your own business, there’s even more work involved in that whole situation. Another freelance writer I’m friends with online, he lives in Sydney and he’s working pretty much all the time to keep it all together. He went ahead and started his own business to make his freelance stuff more official, and he says there’s all this extra stuff he didn’t expect, like getting business valuations done, and filing taxes as a small business instead of as a freelancer, and so on.

I mean, even as a pretty experienced freelance writer myself, it’s not exactly easy. I’m constantly writing for any number of Chautauqua local businesses, from ads to press releases to new website content. But I’m also taking other one-off writing jobs from all over the world, and there’s never any consistency like you’d get at your average 9-to-5.

And I don’t really get “days off” – my hours are literally any time I can get to my computer and crunch out some words to make a deadline – and I often find myself working ten, twelve, God knows how many hours a day. Yes, it’s all from the “comfort” of my own home, but it’s not like I have a ton of free leisure time!

Anyways, now that those thoughts are off my chest, I have to say I’m still glad most days to be making money doing something I’m pretty darn good at. Julia is always supportive of my work, especially when it’s something that pays decent, although she makes pretty good money herself. No, it’s not the easiest career. But again, it really could be worse, so I’ll count my blessings where I’ve got ’em.

I’ve Got the House To Myself: A Weekend With Nature, Netflix, and the Cat

How to watch Netflix overseasWell, the wife rolled out of our driveway early Friday morning with the kid in tow. They’re off to visit my dear mother-in-law in Albany, way upstate. Julia (you absolute angel, you) decided last minute that maybe I should stay home, and I have to say, this guy is definitely not complaining! The last time I went along with them to see the in-laws was two Christmases ago and let’s just say, a few conversational disagreements here and there, and things somehow got a little… messy. Sorry, folks.

So I’ve got the run of this whole, big, empty place until Monday morning. Of course, Julia left me one whopper of a to-do list: Clean the leaves out of the gutters before it snows, fix that annoying squeaky stair, try to figure out why the whole basement smells like dirty socks, and on and on. Being the A-plus husband that I clearly am, I’m sure I’ll finish at least one item off that list before the family’s back. (Knock on wood.)

But on this sunny and crisp weekend afternoon, I couldn’t just stay inside whiling my time away on odds n’ ends housework and chores. The sky a brilliant blue and the last of those New York autumn colors lingering on the trees, I hit the beautiful hiking trails throughout Chautauqua and walked for miles, simply enjoying the bright sun and chilly air.

By the time I got back to my quiet, empty house some five hours later, I’d worked up a ravenous appetite and had worn myself out pretty good. Hitting the kitchen, I flexed every impressively talented culinary muscle I had in my body, and by that I mean I made an enormous, meaty, mayo-slathered sandwich big enough to feed the entire neighborhood! I even shared some choice meat scraps with my little furry buddy Daiquiri – I swear, I’m such a softy sometimes.

I made my way through the living room, plopped my tired body down on the outrageously comfy sectional, and settled in with my sandwich and the TV remote. A little quality time with my good friend Netflix is always welcome; there’s so much entertaining stuff to help you waste all that free time, and with a little help from a VPN, I can enjoy Netflix anywhere I go. Not that freelance writer househusbands really tend to go too far from home, anyways!

Yeah, I’m sure I’ll get around to checking out the leaf-clogged gutters or the squeaky step or the weird dirty sock smell that Julia was going on about. But I’ve got the whole rest of the weekend ahead of me, and right now I think that some solid binge watching the first three seasons of Sons of Anarchy sounds like a terrific plan.

Although, Daiquiri’s just jumped up next to me on the sofa and settled in like a champ. He says we should watch those delightful videos of fish swimming in aquarium tanks instead. We’ll just see about that, cat… we’ll see.

Job

Ladies and gentleman we have scored a job!

Which is in Erie… which is nearly one hour drive away… which is AMAZING. Every time I’m driving out of Chautauqua I pretend like its for good and my heart starts feeling all warm and fuzzy.

My first day driving to work was especially amazing. As I was driving out of town I saw an older man on the ground in front of his house, he was cleaning the gutters and ended up falling and braking his leg. I stop, go to him, tell him to calm down and I call the ambulance. Still on phone describing situation to guy on the line, hearing help is coming soon. I’m thanking god as I’ve no idea how to help the poor guy.

A garbage truck pulls over, and dudes come out to help. I just shout “Its okay guys, ambulance is on the way!”, but as I keep watching I notice they’re taking stuff out of the truck and… turns out they’re on double duty. This towns garbage men… are EMT’s.

How nice and unique is that huh? I hope I never need to go to hospital around here, god knows what might the doctors second duty be.