I do a lot of freelance writing in order to support my habit of novel writing. None of the freelance jobs are huge jobs, in fact, I couldn’t live off of most of them but the extra cash helps buy some items like food and stuff. (For some reason my family actually wants to eat…go figure) But if you are going to freelance there are some hard fast lessons that you learn right off the bat. Here are a few of those lessons and what I have done to combat them.
- Freelancers have trouble getting paid…A LOT – This is so very true and perhaps the most frustrating aspect of freelancing. I have never understood why people don’t feel the need to pay their writers except that unlike electricians, there is nothing for us to “turn off” if we don’t get paid. For that reason it important to make sure that you are covered when it comes to taking on a freelance job. Make sure that you have a contract and make sure it is a written one, not a verbal. If you do get screwed on payment, report the person to the BBB as well as the local job board where you found the job announcement.
- Deadlines are yours to set – Don’t allow your freelance job to take over your life. I learned this the hard way and still have some problems with one of my ongoing freelance jobs. If you aren’t careful your client will begin treating you like an employee. I have one job where the guy sends me stuff and then tells me he needs the work asap. I end up working the job like it is a full-time gig. Don’t think that the client doesn’t realize what they are doing, they do. Set your own schedule and then make them adhere to it.
- Keep accurate records – I can’t stress this enough. Many writers don’t keep up with their records and that can bite you on the behind at both tax time and if you do find yourself in court over getting paid. I once worked for a newspaper that I discovered years later, never paid taxes on my despite having taken it out of my wages. I had a hell of a time fixing that problem because I had not kept all my records. Keep everything…it’ll be worth it in the end.
These are just a few things to consider when you are freelancing; there are a lot more. Freelancing seems like an easy way to make money but it really isn’t unless you follow these rules and a few more like, getting jobs from reputable places and following up with the jobs that pay. I can guarantee that, at some point you will get screwed, all freelancers do, but you can keep that to a minimum if you pay attention. Whatever you do, don’t get trapped by some guy who says he’ll give you the moon…follow up, pay attention and set the pace. You will only make money freelancing if you are in charge, not the client.
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