It’s not uncommon for freelance writers and authors to be viewed as a lazy bunch. Commercial writing is still quite unpopular in several African countries. In fact, a lot of young people struggle to feel accomplished outside paid employment.
What with all the mockery people engage in on social media. You are just a “keyboard warrior, you don’t really matter, where is your certificate.”
I saw an ad the other day, a parent complaining that the child still earns $200 from their home. They want the child to move out and face the world.
If I was earning $200 daily, I would surely never look back in my search for exploration and human experiences.
I would never take another paid job especially in Nigeria where I am from.
I know in the context of the story $200 daily may be small in the United States. However, is it not more important to help freelance writers to identify the corporate skills they gain through diligent work?
Instead of how we focus on how they could make more money. There are a lot of freelance writers who would gladly take a job if they were offered. I always wanted to be a lecturer. However, through my lack of opportunity, I discovered something priceless.
I discovered a career that challenges you to be self-sufficient, motivated, driven, disciplined and meticulous. I discovered creativity and acquired various skills down the line. Now I do much more than copywriting, stories or research.
The writer’s career is somewhat erratic. A lot of us go through these stages:
- Write a lot of confusing stories while stressing over your future.
- Get pressured to apply for “real jobs.”
- Make one hit post or story.
- Start a blog and/or publish a novella.
- Get gigs from Fiverr and Freelancer to pay the bills.
- Lose interest in your future while haggling with clients.
- Make new clients.
- Forget about creative writing.
- Become a couch potato for a few weeks at a stretch.
- Make some bucks from home.
The struggle continues. If you have chosen to write commercially; either as a bookseller, author or content creator you would understand this. Some days, It’s a whole mess of negatives.
Somehow it’s still acceptable to be a freelancer but not as a writer. Everyone thinks your future is bleak and this could be depressing. “Yes work from home but hey!! Don’t be a writer!” everyone says. There are days you also think your future is bleak.
There is an upside though.
Since I started seeing my writing as a part of my life and career, I realized the positives such as:
1. You get to learn discipline: The deadlines I have to meet with clients keep me on my toes. The more you grow your clientele, the more you are required to multitask and meet deadlines.
2. Communication & Negotiation: there are days I sit still for hours trying to figure how best to respond to a client without offending them. This especially comes because a lot of clients struggle to see that they are not your only job and they find it insulting when you remind them of such facts which are just quite frankly FACTS. Sometimes you learn to sleep over some messages before responding. Other times you just say what you think, hope for the best and apologize if need be.
3. Identity: The more jobs you respond to, the closer you come to understanding what your writing identity is. What matters to you as a creator becomes clearer. You begin to create a uniform approach to issues, a consistent image is built. This is your brand.
4. Understanding Contracts & Agreements: Suddenly you understand how important it is to ask your clients to state in clear terms what they expect. When you have no written agreements with stated objectives, you will argue a lot. You will lose a lot of time and money too. It’s so painful when you write and deliver your job but the client says they are just not satisfied. If you have no evidence of stated requirements then you have no choice than to give in and let go of your payment.
5. Being a Business: As much as you are likely to have some familiar grounds with your clients, it becomes important that you know when to detach your personal sentiments. Yes, your client may be tough but representing your business in the best way possible is always a priority.
Being part of the corporate world no longer requires an office cubicle. You don’t have to struggle with feelings of inadequacy because you think you are not gaining much corporate exposure as your counterparts with salaried jobs.
In fact, you could still feel utterly useless within a structured business environment if you have no personal benchmark for success. The process and approach you give to your work are going to stretch your creativity and also your corporate skills.
If you write with the mindset of a business entity, you will inadvertently acquire these corporate experiences and much more. The struggle you may have is then answering questions like “what do I do with these skills? How do I quantify them? Do they make me employable? Or would this grow my business to a point of profit?”
At this stage, you should worry less about what people think about you. Focus more on the end goals of your business operation. Create a process for yourself that models the kind of lifestyle you would want to have if you were working in a business employ. I hope this helps you.
If you have read so far and you can relate to this post, I would really love to hear from you. You can either post a comment or send me a message through the contact page. I would be glad to share your experiences as freelancers in any field. Thank you.
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