How I Conquered the “Feast or Famine” Freelance Cycle Using the 3 R’s! by Jennifer Brown Banks

How I Conquered the “Feast or Famine” Freelance Cycle Using the 3 R’s! by Jennifer Brown Banks

Success as a writer can often be compared to a romantic relationship. Sometimes, we have to make a few mis-steps, and suffer a bit, before we discover a “good fit,” and determine what’s in our best interest.

Let’s just say that, in my professional career of more than a decade, I’ve “kissed my share of frogs” before getting it right. And, you will, too. But, there’s good news. My rookie mistakes taught me resilience, resourcefulness, and an array of other lessons that I can share to shorten your learning curve.

Failures can be transformed into successes. I’m living proof!

One of the biggest challenges for me (and for many writers) is dealing with the feast or famine freelance cycle. You know the script. One month you’re rolling in freelance cash and the next month you’re searching for change under the couch cushions to stay afloat.

The frequent stress and frustration of sporadic income caused me to reach a point where I needed to be real with myself, or abandon writing for more stable pursuits. My monthly mortgage was a constant reminder.

After some trial and error, I arrived upon a system that helped me to operate more profitably, and provided for a more strategic approach. It can enhance your creative efforts as well. It can be broken down into 3 Rs.

Here’s how I went from busted and disgusted, to a successful freelance career that continues to operate “in the black.”


In my early years, I lost a lot of time and money writing “for exposure” and for factory-workers’ wages. And, then I got wise. I learned that I could recoup my many hours of creativity by repurposing my content. And you can too.

For example, I would take previously published articles (that I retained the rights to), add a little content, and sell it in the form of Ebooks and information products. I also used some of the information (in a different format) to present as instructional handouts for my creative writing classes I taught. Remember, it “pays” to be resourceful.


Reprint markets allow writers to get more “bang for our buck” by selling work to different publications without additional effort. One strategy I typically used was to sell my articles to non-competing publications. In other words, if I sold something to a print magazine, I would look for digital publications that addressed similar topics, or that had the same target audience. I would sometimes earn more money through reprint rates than I did for the original articles. Imagine that.
Make it a goal this year to “work smarter, not harder.”


I’m sure I’m not alone here when I admit that part of the problem of surviving the rigors of freelance writing is that clients and publishers don’t always pay as promised. It’s hard to budget properly when you can’t determine your cash flow, right? One way to combat this is through ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting is one of the most lucrative forms of writing in the publishing industry. And, the beauty here? Clients pay a substantial deposit before the work even begins. Need I say more? Some years ago, through a referral, I was hired by a client to pen a biography of sorts. This was my first foray into the “big leagues.” Instead of earning a few hundred dollars for my writing, I was paid thousands of dollars, (within a short period of time). It was a pivotal point in my career. It can make all the difference in your career too.

The moral of my story today is this: Writers do not have to become “starving artists” in order to pursue our passion. It’s possible to escape from a life of Ramen Noodles. Follow these three timely strategies to put you on the “write path” to success.


JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning poet, and serves on the board of directors of a prominent arts organization in the midwest. Her blog (Pen & Prosper) has been recognized as a “Top Blog for Writers” for five consecutive years. When she’s not writing, she enjoys tea, reading, cooking and a good bargain sale.


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