It is time to return to life as a freelance writer.
Once bitten by the “full-time freelancer” bug, you are never immune from again wanting at least some part of that wonderful life again. In early 2017, it called to me due to a pending layoff within my company. For the first time in my 33 years of work life, I would be a victim of numbers and expense cuts.
I had always wanted to be a full-time freelance writer. Beginning in 1996, I slowly built my client base and savings so that, in the winter of 2009-2010, I was able to exit my computer operations job, and enter the full-time writing arena. I wrote website copy, ghostwrote blog posts and portions of someone’s book, press releases, and many online and print magazine articles. I was paying bills on time (including quarterly taxes), and keeping our family fed and a roof over our heads.
In 2012, however, I lost two major clients, and was unable to garner replacements. Naturally, income and savings dwindled, and security turned to stress. I headed back to full-time employment, and officially folded my writing business in 2013. I did keep one steady client, though. It was a restaurant magazine that had purchased my columns and features since 2005. That gig ceased when my editor\published suffered a massive heart attack, and died in June 2015. Then, my writing life turned dormant.
As unfortunate as my situation then was, and maybe is now, I still have an ally: freelance writing. I had made it work before and I could and would do it again.
When I first embarked on being a full-time freelancer in 2009, there was a bit of fear, but much confidence. I had experience, but also a decent emergency savings. This time, however, there is a bit more trepidation due to the first time’s melancholy result and not as much savings. The key here is action, in many ways. I have taken to significantly watching our family spending, while at the same time padding the savings coffer for when the actual layoff day arrives.
Colleagues have come to my aid as well. Prior to the layoff news, a good friend and excellent writer who in the past has secured exposure for me in a European market, recommended me to two magazines she currently writes for, which has resulted in four assignments. Lesson? In addition to her, I am tapping my network and informing folks I am, effective immediately, back in the game. Also, when searching for publications to write for, in the past I normally looked at what they offered so I could query properly. With one of the publications introduced to me, I am filling a need for what they were lacking: a writer in my geographic area. I am using my knowledge and experience to serve editorial needs. This way, I am their go-to writer in an area (Metropolitan New York City) that has much to offer.
And that encourages more marketing, and a different approach with LOIs (Letters of Introduction) and queries. Rather than send out one each occasionally, in addition to my online marketing, I’m sending more out more in volume per week, thereby increasing my chances for an acceptance. Buttressed by the fact that in 2007 Entrepreneur accepted my first query – and with Bon Appetit and Saveur I came very close – I (again) resign myself to the fact that good writing is needed, and I can be the one to provide it.
I have my plan, I have my experience, and I have “now.” Freelance writing is again exciting.
Steve Sears is in his 21st year as a freelance writer, his niches include the bridal, business/personal profile, and hospitality fields. His 26-year-old daughter, Stefanie, is also a freelance writer. Theater and dance are her specialties. Steve’s work has been published in Entrepreneur, New Jersey Monthly, La Bella Bride, Space Coast Bride & Groom, Dining Out, Hitzel’s Restaurant Magazine, and more.