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7-1, Freelance and Security

© 2010, Mona Leeson Vanek

Shortly after I switched from being a newspaper stringer and began selling to magazines the topic of freelance writing and security came under discussing in Market Chat, an online group of professional writers.

The sage advice given then by Phyllis Cambria is still the way things are in the writing business. Phyllis was then in about the same stage of her writing career as I back then. Check out Phyllis' websites to discover how she succeeded.

Let's Sit Down and Talk
(c) 2001 -- Phyllis Cambria

First thing I'd say is NOT to give up your retirement savings. If you have to start digging into your savings for any degree of safety, then freelancing full-time is probably not your best choice. Remember, most of us are only a few paychecks away from living on the streets.

Keep in mind that old saying: Most people don't plan to fail they simply fail to plan.

Remember too that even if you write and sell an article today, there's a strong possibility you might not see that money for four to six months down the road, after it's published. Many markets pay on publication, not acceptance. Even then, a lot of them don't pay until 30 days later.

Think about benefits too, what we used to call in the insurance industry, the hidden paycheck. If you currently have health, disability, retirement, etc. benefits, that could easily be adding $3,000-$6,000 a year in benefits to your paycheck that you don't see as cash, but would cost you a lot of money if you had to pay for them yourself.

I've been freelancing for a little over a year, I have regular monthly assignments, I have a book coming out this month that I was given an advance on, I also work doing consulting, etc. In many ways, I am a success ... except financially. If I didn't have my husband's paycheck to help back us, I'd be living in a shelter!

Yes, there are people who make a decent living freelancing, but most of them were smart enough to have enough jobs that they HAD to quit work just to keep up with them. The smarter ones, even with the regular accounts, also prospect for new assignments every day.

I know someone who had regular assignments with three big companies that paid him VERY well. He stopped taking other assignments because he was working regularly and didn't think he needed the extra work. Unfortunately, all three clients cancelled their contracts within two days citing business reversals.

He spent three months trying to get new clients and eventually almost lost his house. He wound up going back to work at a day job -- not a writing one -- that he hates, but needed.

This is just my own personal advice. :) But, think long and hard about this one, friend.

Phyllis Cambria

Co-author with Patty Sachs of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party,
Miami Wedding Party Examiner,, and Wedding D├ęcor Ideas & Videos,

Chapter 14 - Tending to Business:

Next, 7-2 Infringement and Plagiarizing: