"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Premature Emancipation: Should You Quit Your Job to Freelance Full-time?

There’s no doubt about it. Freedom is a seductive mistress. So much so, that her allure causes many to fantasize, and make impulsive and uninformed decisions to court her and experience her sweet embrace.

Especially when it comes to the life of a freelancer.
Folks idolize it. They envision countless hours of leisure, Margaritas in the mid-afternoon, and liberation from oppressive bosses.
Perhaps you’re one of them.

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad, before you abandon your job or your senses.

But, first let’s rewind to how this blog post became a topic of conversation…

It was a sunny summer Sunday.
In my weekly blog hop and general site surfing, I was reading a post “penned” by a fellow writer who had decided to forego “job security” and benefits to go full-time as a freelancer. From what I had read, they’ve been writing for a few years, with a few bylines to boast.

Now, I don’t know this person personally. In fact, I’ve never even posted a comment to their site. But, I’m rooting that they’ll be able to make a go of things. Really.
After all, everybody loves a winner. Right?

Anyhow, I don’t think it was a smart move. Courageous maybe, but not very business savvy.
And since I don’t know this person well enough for them to give a crap about my two cents, I figured I’d share it with you, my “blog family.”
So, read and heed. ;-)

Okay, as I was saying here… Contrary to popular opinion, freelance writing is hard, folks.
It’s even harder when it’s your bread and butter occupation, and moreso in today’s age of the Internet, when everybody and their momma wants a piece of the action.

It’s even harder if you’re unmarried and have only one source of income.
It’s even harder in an economy with a high unemployment rate and high uncertainty in terms of economic direction. It’s even harder amid a climate with a myriad of changes in the publishing industry.

It’s even harder if you have no business management background from which to draw.
Are you with me here?

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Proceed with caution.
In the words of court T.V. Judge, Mablean, “Look deep before you leap!”

Despite stories of people who have landed lucrative contracts, had “overnight success”, and hit it big, the reality is, very few of us will reach the heights and widths of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, J.K. Rowling, Nicholas Sparks, and other famous authors and poets.
Is it possible? You betcha.
But not likely.
The odds are as much against it as Keanu Reeves proposing marriage to me.

(Side bar---for new readers to my blog, my celebrity crushes are bad-boy rapper 50 Cent and Keanu Reeves).

So, with this being said, here as I promised at the beginning of this journey, are the good and bad things about freelancing full time, and what you can hope to expect. Word up!

1. Freelancing gives a whole new meaning to the famous line of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. “ Some weeks you’ll dine to steak and lobster, other weeks you’ll be praying that the expiration date on your few refrigerated items is just a “guideline” and not gospel. In lean times, the cupboard may be as bare as a baby’s bottom. Don’t say I didn’t warn

2. Along with more freedom is less medical coverage. Are you prepared? Do you have a back-up plan in the event of illness, accidents, or an unexpected surgery? (Look into your homeowner’s plan as a viable option).

3. Expect to have more discipline than an athlete in training. Why? Unlike some are afforded on a regular gig, you can’t “fake” productivity by looking busy. And you can’t take “mental health days” without detriment. Typically you’re a one person show. No work means no pay. You’ll have to resist the urge to play computer games, or spend hours watching the “soaps”, or talking to your mom on the phone about family issues with Aunt Gertrude. You have to buckle down to move up!

4. Know that “love is not enough”. No matter how much you “love” writing, (and trust me, I really, really do), tough decisions have to be made, and a reality check is needed. Think about it. How many times have you been in love but the relationship didn’t go the distance due to incompatibility, or timing, or other stuff? True?

5. Know that there is a right way to jump ship. For example, author and Funds For Writers creator, Hope Clark, shares that before she took the plunge, she had been offered an early retirement and had some financial security in which to fall back on. Not to mention a detective hubby.

Do you need the same? Nope. But in the infamous words of Mr. "T",
"I pity the fool." :-)

Thoughts? Anybody here take the plunge successfully? Do tell.

Image worradmu


  1. Good advice, Jen! Above all, go into it informed and prepared. Freelancing is like any other self employment venture, and as you said, it is not all roses and sunshine. Or rainbows either. But if you're smart, you can work chocolate into your week. :)

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 10, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Hey there, Karen.

    How right you are. Thanks for weighing in and starting us off.

  3. Excellent points, Jen. The "starving artists" saying applies to many writers, too. Especially for fiction writers. There's more opportunity for writing nonfiction. Anyone who is self-employed usually has to work much harder than others do.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Thanks, LynNerd,

    As they say in church, "I'm tryin' to save a few souls today!" :-)

  5. Couldn't have said it better myself! Great advice Jennifer!

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 10, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    Hi Yvonne,

    Happy to get your feedback...as always. :-)
    Much appreciation.

  7. Having parents who were self-employed for many years, I grew up watching how difficult self-employment is. All responsibility, credit, blame, gains and losses point straight to you.

    Being my risk-averse self, jumping from a secure environment to a freelance anything without lots of extra cash in the bank to pad the fall would leave me gasping for air.

    Anytime I've made any major move in my life, there was a pros and cons list and hours of analysis behind it. Lol. Note: one can be risk-averse and still make big moves in due time. It's all about the proper planning. ;-)

    Thank you for this informative post!

  8. Great post Jennifer! Yes, taking the plunge was exciting and I absolutely love being a freelance writer. However, it is very very hard as a single person. Did I mention that it's hard? :-) Thanks for the great advice!

  9. Great post! There would have to be a lot planning like your tips suggest to make this kind of decision. If the freelance gigs dry up, so does your income.

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Hey Janette,

    Great input. I certainly can relate to being "risk averse", and sounds like you approach decisions in a manner similar to my own.:-) You hit the nail on the head here---all responsibility falls on your shoulders when you're self-employed. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2011 at 8:56 AM


    Welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the input today.

  12. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Hi Cynthia,

    How are you? Yes, careful planning is crucial. I appreciate your perspective.

  13. The health insurance problem can make freelancing an impossibility for some people, so my advice would be to look into your coverage options before you go full-time freelance. It can be very difficult and expensive to get coverage for one, and insurers will use anything as an excuse to deny you.

    If you have a spouse who has a job with a regular paycheck and health insurance, it makes freelancing a lot easier. At least there's still some money coming in during those "worst of times" (and boy, you aren't kidding about that--always feast or famine!).

  14. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2011 at 8:42 PM



    I couldn't have said it better. Good input. Thanks!