Yuwanda Black shared an interesting post about how aspiring writers can begin taking steps to make their dreams of freelancing come true in 2010. Aside from my obvious jealousy that she’ll be flying off on yet another steamy adventure for five weeks in Jamaica (just, kidding, Yuwanda – have MUCH fun and be safe!), what really caught my attention was a bold headline further down in her post that reads, “Freelancing Provides More Job Security.” I’m inclined to cautiously agree.
What “working for the man” used to mean
My father has worked for the same company for over 35 years. Over the years his job has presented its employees with an absolutely awesome benefits and retirement package, turkeys and hams for every major holiday, bonuses, lavish gifts celebrating 10, 15, 20 and 30 years with the company, company car, beeper (back in the day) which was eventually upgraded to a company cell. You get the picture.
This is what my parents also wanted for me. It's what I was groomed as a little girl to want and go after, and so I did. Two months after graduating from college I hit the corporate jackpot and relocated to Atlanta to accept an advertising sales assistant position at the local paper. Four months into the job, I knew it wasn’t for me.
Leaving a “good job”
Even though I didn't care for my job I stayed because it provided "security." Eight years later when I told my dad that I was quitting what he affectionately referred to as my “good job,” He thought I was crazy. I had a two year old, newborn twins, a mortgage and car payments.
I completely understood his point of view. He had a “good job” that had been there through my mother’s untimely illness and inability to work again, financed my college tuition and allowed him to pay off his mortgage and cars. He wanted the same security for his only child.
But I could see the writing on the corporate wall early on. Even if I was cut out for the cubicle lifestyle, corporate America was no longer what it used to be. Now it’s plain for everyone to see: massive layoffs, cuts or no provision for benefits and furlough days have become the new norm.
The job security myth revealed
Last year many of my dear old coworkers at the paper became victims of a huge department layoff, as did many other newspaper workers across the nation. The Internet has done a lot to fragment advertising media. My “good job” turned out to be anything but. Which brings me back to the point of Yuwanda’s post…
The idea of job security is to a large degree a myth. High unemployment has forced many of us to become much more resourceful and depend on skills we developed in the corporate jungle to survive via freelancing and contract gigs. It’s a win-win situation for us and the big companies who no longer have the funds to maintain creative departments yet still require our services.
I also agree with Yuwanda’s idea that being a freelancer forces you to learn more. Although I worked on a computer eight hours a day for eight years at my old job, I was woefully computer illiterate when I left. Why should they bother teaching me more than they needed me to know to get the job done?
It wasn’t until I began working for myself that I forced myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills. When you work for yourself, staying on top of small business, technological and Internet trends is a necessity.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
I think the success of working for yourself depends largely on not putting all of your eggs into one basket. This is certainly the case for freelance writers where you must constantly market your services to build up a roster of clients who will supply steady work.
Depending on just one client would be career suicide. When you have 10 or more clients sending you work, you won’t feel the sudden departure of one client as much. One might consider relying on a “good job” in this economy to be the same as putting your eggs in one basket. What will you do if suddenly that job is no longer there?
Start with a plan of action
Now I don't suggest that as an aspiring freelance writer you should just run out and quit your job. You have to have a plan for any business to work. Start freelancing for clients as a side gig, or work to set aside 12 months of savings before you make the leap. I recommend the information from these sites to help get you started:
All About Freelance Writing
Freelance Writing Jobs
About Freelance Writing