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7-1 Freelance and Security

Let's Sit Down and Talk (c) 2010, Mona Leeson Vanek

First off, do NOT give up your retirement savings, or dip into them!

Dipping into your savings for safety is akin to an electrician unbuckling his safety belt when he's suspended to replace an electrical transformer. Don't do it!

If you aren't already bringing in sufficient steady cash from freelancing that you're tempted to dig into your savings, then freelancing full-time is probably not your best choice.

Remember that the majority of freelance writers are only a few paychecks away from living on the streets.

As one professional writer says, "Keep in mind that old saying: Most people don't plan to fail they simply fail to plan."

Even if you write and sell an article or story today the odds are you won't see that money for four to six months; not until after it's published. Many magazines and e-zines pay on publication, rather than on acceptance. And even then, many of them don't pay until 30 days later.

When you're laying out your freelance writer business plan, be sure to factor in benefits such as medical, dental, eyeglasses and disability insurance, and, monthly deposits to a retirement fund; those perks that are commonly called the hidden paycheck.

They could easily be adding $6,000-$10,000 or even $15,000 a year in benefits to your current day-job paycheck, that you don't see as cash, but will cost you a lot of money when you're paying for them yourself.

Writers who've been freelancing for a year or more and have contracts for regular monthly assignments, and possibly have a book or two coming out soon for which they've been given an advance, and maybe even have income from critiquing or tutoring on the side, can in many ways claim to be successful freelancers ~~ except financially.

If they didn't have a spouse's income to back them up, they might be forced to live in a shelter.

Most professional freelance writers know writers who DO make a decent living freelancing; but most financially solvent freelance writers were smart enough to have enough writing jobs that made it mandatory to quit work just to keep up with them.

The smartest ones, even with regular accounts, schedule time to continuously prospect for new assignments.

More than one freelance writer has succumbed to the temptation to stop taking additional assignments, because he or she was writing regularly and didn't think the extra work was necessary.

The reality is, even VERY well paying clients can suddenly cancel their contracts, citing business reversals, leaving the freelance writer out on a limb.

When that happens, most freelancers spend three to six months trying to get new clients. Some do lose their house, and many more wind up returning to work at a day job ~~ not a writing gig ~~ and hating that reality.

Think long and hard, plan carefully and have a contingency plan in place, before striking out on your own.

Don't burn your bridges behind you just because you WANT to be a full-time freelance writer.

Next: 7-2, Infringement and Plagiarizing:

Chapter 14 - Tending to Business:

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