In more staid times, freelance writers could develop a niche expertise and make a predictably good living. Now with so much volatility, both in subject matter and in the growth or collapse of organizations which purchase their services, it's a different game.
To even make ends meet, freelance writers have to be up-to-date on so many topics and players. It's downright exhausting.
Even before the wolf is at the door, those who are determined to stay in business have to begin building a portfolio of clips and contacts in areas that are hot. Those may range from payment systems to the ethos of Generation Z.
As media properties become more and more competitive, editors demand evidence that writers can do the assignment. No more, hey, my track record researching and publishing on diverse topics shows I can handle anything.
It's the same thing for non-media organizations needing content. If their focus is mortgages or assisted-living facilities, they screen for new writing talent based on concrete clips and the prestige of where they had been published. In addition, they might require an unpaid original sample done by the writer, custom-made for their specs.
I complied with that new world order for more than four years. Then I got it that I was dancing as fast as I could. Through calculated planning I managed to navigate out of having writing as my primary source of income. I will always write. Both for my own byline and client assignments. But the lion's share of income will come from doing other kinds of work.
The result? I have my life back. Most nights, although not all, I can fall asleep and stay asleep. I don't worry about money. There is more than enough.
Most importantly I feel okay about myself. The grim marketplace for freelance writers can suck the confidence and dignity out of even the most well-put-together scribe. I was never that kind. Of course, I suffered greatly.
Today, I am treating the Dog Nanny to lunch and more. Since my rescue, Lily of the Valley, was used to my being home, even before I seriously considered a full-time job I interviewed big-hearted people who can navigate around Lily's issues. When I vacation the Nanny will go with us.
Not so long ago I would have spent this holiday weekend "getting caught up" on trends in so many many many fields. In the non-writing life, all they demand is that you do show up on time, do your job and give good face. Piece of cake.