>Freelancing in hard times

>Greetings, fellow freelancers,
Due to recent events, it looks as if I’m going to be scouring the media for freelance opportunities along with you all. For a while there, I was able to enjoy my blogs, essays and poetry and live off the husband’s income. My own writing, teaching, book-selling and music income didn’t have to pay the bills. Very soon they will have to. As we all know, the cost of nursing homes is exorbitant. My husband will soon qualify for Medicaid, a federal long-term-care program, which leaves the spouse with a pittance, not enough to live on. So I’m back in the game, whether I want to be or not. I can no longer afford to do a lot of freebies or put in massive amounts of work for minimal pay.

Perhaps you’re in the same boat. Even if you’re just starting out, maybe you really need the money. When I was teaching at the local college, many of my students were unemployed and expecting to live off their freelancing by the end of the quarter. I had to tell them to keep job-hunting.

But freelancing is like job-hunting. You just get to keep doing it again and again.

In this crazed economy, we’re competing with laid-off staff reporters and editors for reduced space in most general-interest newspapers. The papers are supported by ads, and the big companies that used to buy those ads can’t afford them anymore because they’re losing money, too. It’s a vicious circle.

However, there still are papers, magazines and online outlets publishing regularly and needing content. I think the challenge for you and me is to come up with stories that go right to the heart of what people need these days. That may mean we can’t publish that self-indulgent column on the cute things preschool kids say, but we might be able to pitch a story on whether people can afford preschools anymore and how the economy is affecting the whole preschool industry. Maybe there’s a school that has found creative ways to teach with less money; that’s a feature you might sell.

Recycling, reusing, buying economically, investing safely, affordable vacations, staying healthy—these and many other subjects are on the minds of readers and editors. Think about what people need and worry about these days. What is most on your mind? These are your stories. If you fill a need, you will find a market.

Meanwhile, if anyone in Western Oregon needs a wedding singer or if anyone anywhere wants to buy a copy of my books, I’m here for you. 

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3 Comments on “>Freelancing in hard times”

  1. Michele says:

    >So sorry to hear about this, Sue. Hope things settle down for you soon….Blessings,Michele

  2. Lucas says:

    >Sure thing! I’ve been Freelancing 7 years now. Financial and family constraints kept college away from me. But, I’ve been doing well. Finally making headway.In a way, it’s a shame. These hard times are shutting down the places that I used to do some steady freelance work. One community newspaper that I work with is seeing hiring and raise freezes – which creates one of those wonderful “between the devil and the sea” moments.The home-company wants its reporters and photographers to compete in the online media world. The website has set up blogs and done the occasional multimedia promo from photographers. But, from what I hear, the issue they are having is that the staffers aren’t paid for this extra work, but still expected to churn out two or three stories a day. It’s unfortunate that incentive has to be the mode of motivation.However, as a freelancer, it is a different market. We’re, generally, cheaper than paying a staffer the health benefits and so forth.I’m sorry to hear, Sue, that you’re joining the freelancing world on bad terms. Though, it’s not a terrible world to be in. At least, for the time being, we’re in the security.

  3. Suelick says:

    >Thanks, Michele. Lucas, I agree. We freelancers have some advantages over staff writers who are either losing their jobs or asked to do more and more work for the same pay. Been there, done that. I think a skilled, trustworthy freelancer has a lot more options than a lot of other people in this economy.


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