The Facts of Life for Freelancers

“Anybody who is in freelance work, especially artistically, knows that it comes with all the insecurity and the ups and downs. It’s a really frightening life.” –Alessandro Nivola

The following is an older post that I wrote a little under a year ago, shortly after losing my first major freelancing job. I’ve removed it from the rev share site that it was originally posted it at and am posting it here. Anyone who wants to understand the freelance life has to understand that income loss comes with the territory.

Well, it was bound to happen sometime.

I love writing. All my life, writing has the place I turned to to sort out my thoughts and emotions. The easiest way for me to convey my thoughts to somebody else is usually in writing – I don’t have nearly as strong a command over the spoken word. When I began to make money by writing, it felt incredibly natural to me. This is the closest thing I have to a natural, raw talent. Some people are born to play the piano or can do long complicated math problems in their heads. I do this. No, I may never write the Great American Novel, but I’m good at getting my point across in writing.

You know what else I love? Self-employment. Even though I know it’s a bit of an illusion, I love being able to work as much as I want, and I love being able to take a day off when I need to. I’m a huge control freak, and the sense of control over my finances, my schedule, and my life that comes from being my own boss is irresistible to me.

But I indulged in a bit of self-deception, too. You see, for self-employment to work, you still have to have somebody wanting to buy your services. And in the freelancing world, a strong income stream can dry up in a hot minute, with no warning at all.

And do you know, I knew that. I really did. It’s why I have more than one client, it’s why I apply for every mill and writing job that looks interesting, it’s why I made a resume – heck, it’s why I’m here, for that matter. And I’ve lost income before, when a client took a hiatus or needed to cut back. Still, I got slapped in the face by reality today. And I’m reeling. Because today? Today it was the big income stream. It was $2500+ a month. Gone. And I have no idea… what to do next. If you’re a freelancer, and you’ve ever lost the biggest egg in your basket, you know what I’m feeling. It’s not pretty.

But such is life. Tomorrow (or maybe Monday, I don’t know) I’ll get back on the horse, and regroup, and maybe I’ll find a new direction. That job was taking up all of my time anyway. Maybe in six months I’ll have several lucrative private clients and won’t need to work 100 hours a week for $2500 a month. Maybe I’ll be glad this happened. It’s possible.

But right now? Total pity party.

That was a little less than a year ago. By way of an update, I should mention that I’ve more than replaced that lost income. More on that in the next post.

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