The Unglamorous Side of Freelance Writing

Not my home office, but isn't it nice? :-)
Not my home office, but isn’t it nice? 🙂

Penis enhancement supplements, soccer balls, tree removal services—not the stuff your favorite writer is made of, but all topics I’ve written about.

In seven years of writing, I’ve covered a range of sometimes-strange topics. Some because the gigs paid well and others (especially in the beginning) simply because I needed more work.

Remember in the board game LIFE, where you could choose “college” or “career” right off the bat? The career path was enticing, because money came more quickly through low-end jobs, but college would serve you better in the long run. My freelancing career was a little like jumping on the career path—I’ve had to work a bit harder to get to that dream profession.

Pursuing a career in writing without a degree in journalism, English, or related subject has meant I had to prove myself a little more, take on jobs less glamorous and get my name out there through sheer project volume at times.

One of my longest-standing writing gigs was writing supplement “reviews” for a company on the west coast. They weren’t shady in their contractor relationships—I was paid regularly and at a fair rate. But I’m hardly the person to know whether or not the herb damiana can really help improve your erection quality, and I wrote several such reviews for them each day.

Side note: These reviews were not dishonest, in that I didn’t claim to have taken the supplements. They were overviews of the included ingredients. The company was doing with so many others are doing these days–flooding the internet with hundreds of pages of content daily, all subtly steering readers to a specific product brand, without explicitly disclosing that as their intention.

But, all of those student loans aren’t for naught. My criminal justice degree helped me carve out my first “niche”, and I was able to market myself specifically to the thousands of law firms looking for bloggers and content creators. It also help me get some of my most satisfying work published—features on social justice issues.

You have to put in work.

When it comes to chasing the life you’ve always wanted—to making a hobby or passion into an income generator, you have to be willing to put in work. You’ve got to be okay with getting your hands dirty, or in my case, you have to be willing to write about topics you can’t stand.

Product descriptions for sporting goods equipment and blog posts that would appeal to middle and high school athletic coaches—totally not my forte. But these gigs gave me time to get better at what I do, to get better at the writing but also at the business aspects of freelance writing for the Internet.

Writing about supplement ingredients, and particularly male enhancement supplements, made me want to claw my eyes out. But sitting in my home office, in my yoga pants with my music playing and no one staring over my shoulder, has and will always be better than any other job I’ve ever done.

Is it worth the trade-off?

Working in a 9-5 job, where your experience makes the work easy, and the paycheck comes on time, can be “enough” for many people. They are okay with punching the clock, putting in their time, and leaving their office with no further thought to the tasks they completed or left for the following morning.

But, I wanted more.

I wanted fulfillment and I wanted flexibility. I wanted control over my time. I wanted to know that if I worked harder and better than the next writer, I would be paid accordingly. I was willing to allow my work ethic and tenacity to lead the way, because I knew myself and knew that I wouldn’t accept failure.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve written things I didn’t want to. There have been months were I was scraping by financially. But through it all, the choice to create a path uniquely mine has remained the best choice I could have ever made.

This career, this portfolio, this success—I made this. It wasn’t handed to me and I didn’t just get lucky.

What I have right now is here because I made it happen. And there is nothing that can beat that feeling.

Photo credit: Velkr0

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