Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures In Freelancing

So, as has been noted elsewhere (typically, my Facebook and my old wordpress blog), I used to work at Walmart. Actually, two years of my life were spent in a New Jersey store that was in the process of becoming a super center. Working for this retail giant was particular complicated for me. I am a extremely left of center, and I hated the times the made everybody sit through their anti-union propaganda. Yet, even more, I felt like I was in a holding pattern most of anything. I was routinely getting passed over for promotion, even though for both years, I had "Exceeds expectations" evaluations. I seriously had no future there; in fact, the only reason why I ever took a job there was simple: it was stable, and trying to string together part-time college teach work was not. After all, that was roughly 10 years of my life.

So, I left Walmart the first real chance I could get. A lot of my writer friends told me specifically how I could set myself up as a freelance writer. It involved starting with low-pay micro-tasking and cloudsourcing jobs, and then slowly building a list of independent clients. That list was supposed to ween me off internet content providing. So, I sent some writing resumes out, and I get into a number of these companies. Money was good. Very good. I was managing to nail down $100 to $150 a day. I quit Walmart with a smile, and I have worked at home ever since.

Only, it's not a happy ending. Self-employment comes with a lot of risks, ones I seriously didn't take into account. In a way, working for yourself can be compared to investing in the stock market. You hit a good stock, and everything is just great -- great returns on investment and so on. Then, one day, that stock goes to shit. If its all that you've invested in, you are SCREWED. This same dynamic works for self-employment. If you sources of income are not diversified, you are essentially setting yourself up for whole lot trouble later.

In my case, I was writing for a well known and much-derided (by clueless, snobby professionals with their career long since set up and stabilized) content farm. Since I don't want to trigger an email alert, lets just call them Dee-Ess. Everything was fine; I was too busy cranking out how-to articles to really spend time diversifying my work load -- then, over the course of a few months, their content pool dewindled severely. They recently went public with an IPO, and so they decided to take the opportunity restructure. That's their right; after all, they are a business, not a social services agency. However, for me, that has made the last few months extremely hard. The financial security my wife and I were returning to was completely ripped away. No money for groceries, and bank account balances in the negative. I was actively thinking of returning to Walmart, defeated; only thing is, they claim to be hurting in this economy, and they have slashed hours. That likely also means a hiring freeze has been put into place.

I bare no ill will towards Dee-Ess. I plan to still write for them from time to time; however, I have since moved on. Yet, I am now in the position of trying climb out of yet another financial hole. This means a number of publishing related ventures I was trying to set up have gone on hold. As for my sources of income--they are diversified. Yet, it takes a few months to get all of those pipelines primed and flowing.

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