I read yet another article today about how hard it is to make a living as a freelancer. I will be the first to agree that a successful freelance career requires persistence, determination and a lot of hard work. Yes–it is time consuming and no–it is not easy. But how many jobs really are easy?
My time spent as beat reporter at newspapers wasn’t a walk in the park. Covering Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago was a tough gig that came with daily deadlines, whether or not a trial went the way I thought it was going to. Some days writing pitches and facing an editor’s rejection can seem easier than walking up to the family of a murder victim and asking for a few minutes of their time.
Covering transportation at a weekly paper came with many of the same deadlines, obstacles and challenges that I face as a freelancer. You know that source that promised to be available at 3:00? The one that you’ve been counting on so you can wrap up your story? Well, he will forget, but that can happen whether you’re a staffer or a freelancer. Finding and cultivating sources takes time. So does learning who you can trust—no matter who you are writing for.
When I moved on to edit a trade magazine, I not only had to create editorial content, but also had to deal with creating budgets, monitoring ad sales and maintaining the bottom line. I also had to commute an hour and a half each day.
So, every time I hear someone say that freelancing is hard, I remind myself that most things in life are. Luckily, I’ve never been afraid of hard work and I have had a great year as a freelancer. Plus, the benefits of the freelance life far outweigh the obstacles. I promise.