Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Word or two on Freelancing

Freelance editing is what I did in Seattle for a year when I couldn't find a full-time job. There are many benefits--sometimes you get paid in cash, you make your own hours, you work from home. There are also a number of cons--no retirement or health care, weeding out the serious writers who know how things are done from the pseudo writers who don't understand why you charge so much or what the difference between copy editing and proofreading is, making your own hours, working from home...

As a novice freelancer, I had a really hard time figuring out how to a) find work in the first place and b) find enough work to make a decent living. The Northwest Independent Editors Guild was a great resource for figuring out how much to charge for my services, how to explain what my services were, exactly, to clients, and for advertising said services. Would that there were such organizations everywhere in the country.

Now I'm doing part-time technical editing, to make a little extra money while I'm in school and I could see my way to making a decent living by hashing together different part-time and freelance gigs. But I worry, as is my wont. How do I get health insurance when I work for myself? I know there are ways of doing so, but my eyes glaze over and I go to my happy place whenever anyone tries to explain how. Will I make enough to contribute to a Roth-IRA? What is a Roth-IRA? How do I deal with paying my taxes? Am I really made of strong enough stuff to deal with the uncertainty of when and where the next gig will come from? Will I make enough money to pay for annual trips to Europe?

I was raised with the idea that when you get a job it needs to be a job that is a part of an entity--a company, a corporation, or some other multisyllabic thing that begins with the letter 'c'. There needs to be an interview and a boss. One can't be one's own boss. It's unseemly--like being one's own grandpa. It just isn't done in polite society. Rugged individualism was never one of my family's strong points. We are made of strong sheep stock. Despite the fact that I've seen others do it and, to an extent, I've done it myself, I still have a hard time believing that self-employment is feasible.

Perhaps I can convince Kelly and Laurie to form a limited liability company with me. One of them will need to be the boss, so I can stay within my comfort zone as a peon. And the other one can handle all the HR stuff. I think it could work...

2 comments:

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

I have been freelancing, more or less, for six years now. The most I have ever made was $5000 year. Not enough to keep me in fine cheese. On the plus side, $5000 is better than $0. A few times I've been able to align myself with the glossy racks at Barnes and Noble, which pleases my parents and friends. On the downside, I have to write about what editors need, not what I want to write about. Also, when the deadline is at hand, cornball disease can erupt. An article I once wrote called, "Just say 'No' to Merlot" comes to mind.