Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

The difficulty of living in the ‘in-between’ world of freelance writers

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When I was in high school, I read a journalism textbook specifically about those who wanted to become “freelance writers,” and decided that was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Many, MANY years later, I’m still a practicing freelance writer. With a few more years of such practice, maybe I’ll get it right. And nothing about being a practicing freelance writer is quite so frustrating as that “in-between” status of being self-employed but not really a “small business,” by most definitions at least.

Although I certainly consider my freelance writing and editing career to be a business, I have little to none of the small business opportunities open to me that other small businessmen/people have available. If you don’t believe me, when was the last time you, as a freelance writer, went down to your local bank for a small business loan to expand your writing business? Yes? No?

Consider the difficulty of obtaining quality, affordable health insurance. People who own and operate small businesses frequently have such options. There are one or two organizations of freelancers who have sort of banded together to make better health insurance options available, but there are still no great deals.

I guess my point in all this is to raise a little discussion, and perhaps to offer a word or two of warning. My warning would be this: Before you give up your “day job,” make sure you are financially and emotionally prepared for the freelance life. It’s tough out here in the trenches outside of “best-sellerdom” land.
[tags]freelance writing, small business opportunities, writing and life, writing as a business, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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One Response to “The difficulty of living in the ‘in-between’ world of freelance writers”

  1. Brian says:

    I completely sympathize with the insurance thing. Thank goodness my wife has a corporate job.

    For the business loan thing, there is actually something you can do. Most people forget that if your business is treated as separate from you, then you have to look at it as a “person”. That person is only four or five years old (or whatever) and has no credit. There isn’t a credit score for businesses per se, but there is still credit references and so on.

    So, build your business’ credit just like you do a human’s credit. Open a bank account in the business’ name. Deposit all your payments into the account (even if you move them out later). Pay your business bills from the account. Get a credit card (actually 2 or 3) in the business name which is disturbingly easy. Use those cards to buy business stuff. Pay those cards on time every month. To make it really count, carry a small balance for one month at least once a year (it counts more if you show up as a debt instead of as a deferred payment) and then pay it off. That starts to build up your business credit. When you get the chance, get a vendor to extend you credit by letting your pay via purchase order. Then, you have a bank, a couple credit card companies, and another vendor all as good credit references. That is how you get a business loan.

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