We had four kids, a mortgage, car payments and assorted bills. What better time to become a full-time freelance writer?
I neglected to mention I also had a wife – a very supportive wife – who still remains very supportive. Of course, when I told her I’d be working at home, she went out and got a job.
I literally declared my independence on July 4 more than 30 years ago. The business was started with a Selectric typewriter (I can’t explain it to those who don’t know) and a used answering machine. I didn’t invest in a business line until I realized one or more of my precocious children was answering the phone with, “Yeah?” Not good for clients.
I went on my own with enough work to guarantee – for at least six months – the same income I was receiving from the public relations firm for which I worked. My first clients were a national trade journal for the pest control industry and a major soft drink company from Atlanta that shall remain nameless.
I quickly learned that many clients seemed to feel the important aspect of free-lance was free, and with a few exceptions for pro bono work, I’ve been paid for everything. I also learned that when a client suggested a retainer, he or she was referring to the old-time domestic servant. That was another attitude I had to change.
This section of WritersWeekly.com is supposed to deal with success. I’m not quite sure what that is. That mortgaged home was paid off years ago. The kids who wanted to go to college did so. Pretty soon, their kids will be going. And, my wife is still working. I still enjoy taking the few steps into my office each morning, so I guess that’s success. The phone still rings – although email has almost replaced client phone calls – so I guess that’s success. And my wife is still with me. That’s my biggest success.
Marv Gisser has a BA in Journalism. Prior to forming his own firm, his background included writing and PR work in the corporate, agency, educational and association “worlds.” His work has been primarily for corporations, doing internal and external publications, collateral material, organizational histories and speeches. Marv’s creative accomplishments have been recognized with international, national, regional and local writing awards. He’s been married for 47 years and has four adult children and 10 grandchildren.