freelancing

Baltimore, Opportunity and Freelancing

I’m from a small town in South Carolina. I wasn’t born there, but I spent most of my formative years imagining life beyond the local Piggly Wiggly. My father lived there as a child, and his father lived there. Prior to that, his father likely lived there … The story continues as far back as slavery when they picked the cotton that still grows there. It’s an upbringing that I am thankful to have because it keeps me grounded, although I have never set foot in the town as an adult.

My grandfather left our small town during the segregation era as a young adult to pursue work in Baltimore. In the big city, he found opportunity on the boats. My father left during the Civil Rights Era headed for New York, after a short stint in the military, he found opportunity in entrepreneurship. I chose a different route. Opting for college and a family I jumped from city to city, eventually laying roots in the Seattle area.

How does this relate back to freelancing?

I come from a legacy of people that search for opportunity when presented with little. From the moment I left my small town, I knew it was going to be an uphill climb, and I sought out that challenge. On the backs of those who had left before me, I knew there was opportunity in front of me… I just needed to find it.

That opportunity presented itself online. With the exception of part-time retail jobs, every job I’ve ever had was courtesy of the Internet. From freelance reporting to modeling, to mystery shopping… I found my opportunity through a system of information that connected me with the world.

I have been ‘online freelancing’ for 17 years now… and as I watch the environment change – I am saddened by what it has become. Just like Baltimore was once a Mecca of opportunity for my grandfather, it is now a city of despair. Similar to how my father ran to New York in the 60s, he ran from it in the 80s. The online marketplace has become overrun with the second-wave of hopefuls looking for their next opportunity. Many of them come underprepared and under-qualified and aren’t willing to put in the necessary work.

As a result, they have cheapened the definition of what it means to be an online freelancer and made it difficult for the quality ones to stand out.

Take, for example, the million dollar freelance copywriter. …

He brags about how easy it was for him to make money. He brags about how little education he has. He suggests that anyone can do what he did – if you just click here — it’s no wonder why anyone would have a difficult time putting a value on quality copywriting.

Am I suggesting he’s not good? Not at all; I don’t know anything about his work. What I am saying is that he is not unique. Time Magazine reported last year that 1 in 3 Americans freelance. If so many of us are going at it alone, how does anyone know who is actually about their craft and who is just looking for the next opportunity?

I’m not going to say I’m the best to have ever done it. Actually, I will be the first to admit that I am not. What I am, however, is dedicated. I am dedicated to freelancing, not because it’s what’s popular and not because someone suggested I could make a whole bunch of money. I am freelancing because it was the best opportunity for me- a small-town girl with big dreams. The Internet is my Baltimore. Freelancing is my New York.

I am committed to defending ‘my city’ from decay, and helping others succeed here as well. You deserve to be online. Read about my services and let me know if I can help.

30,000 Words, 700 Jobs, One Year

The real process of freelancing- lots of applications and few responses

Longreads

A few months ago, a friend considering a freelance writing career asked me how much money I make as a writer. I wanted to say, “You mean, what’s the going rate for a human soul?” But I wasn’t close enough to this friend to be certain she’d realize I was mostly kidding. Instead I said, “This month, I made between $25 and $2,000 for individual stories that were about the same length,” to indicate how unpredictable rates are in an industry that is hemorrhaging money while flooded with qualified candidates.

I’ve produced more than 30,000 words of original and highly job-specific material without pay in an effort to prove myself a capable and good sport to the handful of companies that have reached back out to me from the black hole of resume inboxes to give me a chance.

– Prospective employers demand full-time freelancers to produce inordinate amounts of…

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ReBlog Sunday: The One Thing That Can Ruin Your Freelance Writing Career

I generally run very far away from any article that begins with “The One Thing”, but for this one I couldn’t help reading. In this post, freelance writer Elna Cain talks about how she nearly ruined her freelance career with one single mistake… and it has little to do with writing.

I’m sharing this for anyone who’ve ever doubted their ability to freelance.

http://innovativeink.ca/blog/what-can-ruin-your-freelance-writing-career/

Screw Your Job, I’m Going at It Alone

What motivates someone to work as a freelancer? I think that it often isn’t an abundance of confidence or any type of a business plan. No, the decision to freelance can be similar to the inspiration of invention- based on a necessity.

Many freelancers go at it alone because they need to. Perhaps they needed to find a job and one suited to their skills wasn’t available. Maybe they are unable to work in a corporation due to discrimination, lack of access, or personal choice. There are even some people that choose to freelance because their abilities are too unique to fit a traditional job role. Basically, freelancers go at it alone because they have to.

Many times I think about what motivated me to start freelancing. Although my current situation is rather new, technically, freelancing was my second job. I began freelancing at The Charlotte Post as a sales person. It was my second job (while in college) after a 1 year part-time career in telemarketing. It quickly grew into a writing position.

At first I didn’t understand the big deal of having my own route, my own customers, and my own tax liability. It wasn’t strange because my father had lived that way my entire life. It wasn’t until my next job in computers that I realized the difference. While beginning my experience in technology sales, I longed for the emotional reward that I received while freelancing.

Working for one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world had its benefits for sure. I received industry training in computer hardware, everyday people considered me an expert, and there were the benefits of course. But, what that job didn’t offer – one that I’d always received while freelancing for the Post – was emotional gratification. I needed the reward from doing a good job, and while my customers regularly gave it to me, my company never did.

I moved from computer hardware, to cell phones, to software, to online retail- all the while staying close to those who’d validate my efforts (the customers). Though my regular jobs fulfilled a financial need, deep down, I wanted something more. I felt like I had a job- I wanted a career.

So I got back into freelancing- only a little at first, then completely at one point while working in event marketing. I was happy, but society frowned upon my decision. Believing I was a failure because I found no joy in my fortune 500 jobs, I tried it one more time… this time staying 3 years- only to crash harder than I’d ever crashed before.

I now know I was meant to be a freelancer- I was meant to explore and build using all of my talents, not just the ones the job entailed. My career was doing what I was passionate about- whatever that may be- and supporting my family with it. Isn’t that the ideal?

I definitely understand that everyone isn’t designed to be a freelancer- but those that are, should give up trying to fight it. I have.

Now, I no longer work; I finally have a career.