Friday, October 28, 2011

Staying Afloat Without a Paddle

As important as the quality of your writing is to freelancing, so should your financial base. Too many beginning writers only daydream about how wonderful it would be to strike out on their own and get paid for their writing. In order to stay afloat while freelancing, especially in the beginning while you’re opening markets and gathering clients, you must have money to pay your bills.

If you’ve ever bought a house, you know how careful you have to inspect it. Once you sign the sales agreement, you’re stuck with it, no matter what problems may arise. The same goes for severing the financial cord to your fill-time job. By doing thorough research and planning carefully, you’ll be able to concentrate on your writing and not have to worry about how you’re going to buy food or pay for heat and fuel for your car.

When I began freelancing, I decided that if I had to work part-time at any point in my freelance career that I would only get a job at something related to what I was doing. I figured that if I working thinking and working with writing or any of the subjects I wrote about then I might also gain some knowledge or insights to help me in my writing. I wrote about travel and tourism, so I worked as a travel agent. I wrote about the Internet and technology, so I learned to design Web sites for small businesses. I even did public relations writing—I got plenty of press releases and learned to write good ones from them.

But the job that has offered me the most opportunities was teaching what I loved to do best—writing. No, I didn’t teach in public school or college. Over the years, I’ve taught continued education courses at a number of colleges and universities as well as community evening schools in my area. I knew that I really couldn’t write all day and all night, so I scheduled my classes during the evening hours. No course is longer than eight weeks and each session runs for two hours. I work as an independent contractor, thus setting my own schedule and creating and writing my own courses. Once a course is “in the bag,” I just have to reap the profits.

The experience I gained teaching writing courses propelled me into an even more lucrative sideline—business writing workshops. I earn more in a six-hour day doing this than writing two or three articles. But instead of presenting these workshop constantly, I’m selective and only do them occasionally.

Another sideline related to my course work is lecturing. I’ve amassed loads of information on a variety of subjects, as well as photographs of the same. I began assembling these into one-hour lectures that I present at retirement centers and at conferences. Again, once a lecture is all assembled, it’s easy to draw from my inventory and reap the profits.

When, do you ask, do I have time to write? Believe it or not, I have a lot of time because I set my own schedule. All my teaching venues know that if something comes up, I may need to cancel a class and make it up later. All have been very accommodating. Plus, I get all sorts of ideas when teaching others.

My Web design business kicks in when times are slow. It takes a lot to put a good site together, so I take on only one client at a time. The pay is usually worth it.

During the recent economic downturn, my ability to turn a profit with my other ventures has paid off handsomely. All of these ventures come under the umbrella of Bob Brooke Communications, my brand name and the company I created.

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