Struggles of a Budding Freelancer

I’ve been keeping busy lately. In addition to planning my wedding (which is in less than two weeks), I continue to work my full-time job as a technical writer/editor while looking for supplemental freelance writing and editing work. It may not sound like a lot, but answering to multiple bosses with multiple deadlines (and the wedding is a deadline of its own) takes a toll on a day-to-day basis.

In a turn of good fortune, I got picked up by U.S.A. Today to do a few profiles of members of the Army Corps of Engineers. I absolutely loved these assignments because I got to interview interesting people from around the country about the work they’re doing to improve Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) education in their local communities. It was a great opportunity to combine my passion for writing with my passion for science education. I also got some insight into how a big company manages its freelancers, and, of course, I got to add U.S.A. Today to my writing resume.

During my quest for exposure, I also signed up for a few content mills and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sites that pay pennies an hour. I was also picked up by some slightly higher-paying copywriting agencies. At some point during this process, Matt asked me, “Is this really what you want to be doing?” I dismissed him at the time, excited that someone liked my writing enough to offer me one cent per word on topics I didn’t care about. It was sometime between writing my fifth article on lake eutrophication and determining how to spin two articles about air conditioning to be intriguing and informative that I took a moment for self-reflection.

I really have no interest in writing a 500-word article about tinted windows on cars for $10. Can I do it? Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have used precious brain power on some of these articles. I’m actually kind of proud of a couple of my environmentally-oriented articles, but, due to my contract, I cannot link you to those articles since I did them as a ghostwriter.

To review: joined company for exposure–>cannot link to any articles I write.

I’m in a fortunate position in the world that I can afford to say no to this particular stream of money in favor of writing and editing that really stirs my imagination and mentally engages me. It’s not that I am “too good” for the money, it’s that I have other opportunities to make my voice heard. I started freelance writing to make an impact on the world, not to pump out advertising disguised as mediocre information.

After I left grad school, I vaguely identified my ideal career as one that would act as a bridge between science and the public. My science writing, academic editing, and tutoring all contribute to that goal. Anything else I need to leave behind.

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