In my post from two weeks ago, I talked about re-evaluating my writing goals and trying to come up with a plan as to how to achieve them.
If I could choose one big factor to change in my life at this point, it would be no longer working a second job cleaning so I could devote that time to writing – and making money doing so. I still need the extra income, and I would be absolutely over the moon if I could make and extra $200 or so a month writing.
But how does one accomplish that? Ideally, I’d love to make it happen with a travel blog, but the idea is still in its infancy and I have a lot of details to figure out before I launch it. I also still have a lot to learn about blogging, and while I’m hungry for the information, I’m having trouble finding a place where I can learn everything I need.
I’ve read countless articles about exposure, social media, and marketing, but my eyes gloss over 2-3 sentences in – especially when it comes to necessary evil that is SEO. I still have no idea how to make it work, and even if I did, it’s clear that getting to the point where you have thousands of followers and are making a tiny bit of money from a blog is a full time job in and of itself. Which I quite literally do not have the time or knowledge for.
So I figured I’d start small by learning what I could in my small amount of spare time, but that’s proving rather difficult too. Even though there’s a pretty decent community college system where I live, I only found one class about blogging, and the location was an hour and a half from my house, and started only 45 minutes after I leave my FT job. So that was out. I then discovered website dedicated to Pittsburgh bloggers, and was excited to see that they offered peer mentorship, classes, and general connections for local writers. Then I realized that nothing had been updated on their website since 2015. Moving on, I sought out two nearby universities known for their writing programs. I’d heard that such institutions offer non-credit or certificate programs, so I figured I’d check them out. One program required 6 weeks spent at a “retreat,” and cost over $6000. The other was only a few credits short of being a full time student – neither of which is an option for me, financially or logistically.
I just want to find somewhere that offers some sort of “blogging for business” or “writing for profit” class. Something within an hour’s driving distance of my house, maybe once or twice a week for less than an entire month’s salary. I just don’t know where to go or what to do to find it.
So, begrudgingly, I realized that maybe I do have to turn to freelance writing after all – maybe if I made some headway with freelancing, it would open up doors to travel writing and blogging opportunities and provide the cash necessary to learn about those things in the process.
I’ve looked into freelance writing several times in the last three years, but each time there were several aspects about it that scared me away. The biggest reason was the fact that I’d never even heard of half the programs they were requiring to be able to complete projects. And the fact that I’m pretty sure I’m “the most technologically inept millennial on the planet” means I’m not the kind of person who can just install a new program and teach myself to use it overnight, let alone use it well enough for a project I’m being paid for. I don’t even know how to use Skype for God’s sake. As I mentioned above with blogging, I’d be willing to take classes to learn this stuff, but apparently those types of classes simply do not exist.
Here are some examples of questions I run into while browsing through freelance job sites:
- A business looking for someone to write their Wikipedia page. The description is literally only 2 sentences but it says the writer has to “write and maintain” the page. Does this mean I have to know how to set up a Wiki page? Does that mean I have to know how to write HTML and shit? Or am I just writing the content?
- Someone who makes sauce was looking for a writer to write a catchy product description and history of the company for their jar labels. The description states “must be knowable of food labels designs and layouts.” So do I need to design it too?
- What in God’s name are “white papers?!?!?!”
- Why do most websites make you sign up for an account before you can even see what kind of jobs are offered?
- When bidding on jobs, how am I supposed to compete with people who have extensive resumes?
- Is it weird that I don’t like the idea of “ghost writing?”
- Once you sign up as a “writer” for any given site, is there an option to ask job posters questions if you’re unsure about a certain aspect of the task? Is it advisable or professional to do so, or should you just stay away from any jobs you think are unclear? Because TBH almost all the jobs I look at are unclear to me.
As if the intimidation factor weren’t enough, I also have serious, scary questions about freelance work —
How much time a week/month is it going to take for me to make around $200/month?
Is freelancing going to leave me enough time to work on my blog and do creative writing for contests and calls for submissions? What about my novels?
Does freelancing have to be about writing mind-numbing junk? Is it the soul-sucker of the writing world? Is it going to burn me out? Does doing this mean I’m a sell out?
All of this uncertainty about freelancing and getting paid to write has made me feel really anxious about something I love. And since writing, at its core, is really one of the only things I’ve ever been good at, that anxiety leads to frustration, anger, and even sadness. I don’t want my passion for writing to be limited because I lack understanding of technical junk and business sense.
I have no shame in admitting that my ideal dream would be to become a full-time, professional writer one day – novels, blogs, travel magazines, freelance gigs, you name it. As long as I was writing for a living I’d be happy. While I know that such a dream is far fetched, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying.
In the meantime, I’d settle for small, part-time gigs that allow me to make a few extra bucks a month to supplement my full-time income. I just have no idea where to start, and I’m feeling incredibly lost in trying to get there.
If any of you have any specific answers to anything I’ve asked in this post, I would be eternally grateful for the advice.