Last week, I took some time off from my side writing gig. I had to move 2 carloads of files to my new work locale on the heels of a promotion, and it was also my birthday weekend so I decided to take a break.
But today I was back to the grind and honestly dreading it with my whole being. I have to churn out A minimum of 5 articles a week and while that doesn’t sound like much, I walk into the assignments completely blind.
I have to write either 500, 1000, or 1500 word minimum articles on subjects ranging from real estate to product descriptions to financial issues to legal situations and just about anything you can think of in between.
There is no heads up. You request an assignment and the system gives you one at random. It might be 500 words on digital marketing or 1500 on some kind of Google algorithm. And yes, I have written both kinds on both subjects. My point is, I never know until I click that assignment button whether or not I’m going to be in for a long night.
The company I work for doesn’t hire just anybody, and prefer for their writers to have a college degree. I now understand why. It’s not just that college educated writers write better (usually), it’s the fact that you have to know how to research and find legitimate sources to back up your content.
I can write all day long. It’s the research that gets me. I’m good at research, it’s just time consuming and cuts into my profit if I have to spend an overt amount of time doing it.
Today, thankfully, the research was minimal and I turned over 3 articles of each word length possible in about 5 hours. Research time included.
But I have spent some nights, up until 1 or 2 in the morning, writing and researching 1500 word articles on subject I know nothing about. Those are the nights I want to quit. Because I like to sleep. A lot. And I need to sleep.
However much I want to write, or even need to write, I cannot put my 9-5 at risk of becoming anything short of my first professional priority. It is my bread and butter and it cannot suffer.
So I’m here, in this balancing act, trying to figure out what direction I want my business to go.
I’m a year into the freelancing thing and have done really, really well for someone with a rudimentary understanding of owning my own business. But freelancing is a double-edged sword. Yes, there is immense satisfaction in working for myself, but there is also something to be said for a steady paycheck.
Some of my projects have been very lucrative, but they are staggered. Not steady gigs. The blogging thing was appealing because it is a regular paycheck for writing. I sacrificed some of the better money for more consistent deposits.
And honestly, I sacrificed some of my better writing also. I don’t slack at what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong. But I give them my money’s worth, which isn’t the same as what I’d give someone paying me my usual hourly rate. And that’s fine, because they want these articles written on about an 8th grade level of understanding.
That’s challenging though, because I use big words sometimes. Complex sentences. And they don’t like that. So I have to “dumb it down” a little.
But I’m looking for ways to have the best of both worlds: a steady check while doing the kind of writing that means something. And I think I can have both, I’ve just got to make a plan. And I’m working on one.
I pray it isn’t just a pipe dream, but something I can turn into a reality. I’ve already achieved more by stepping out into the world of entrepreneurship than I ever thought I could.
But I want to do the writing that I believe I was meant to do. And these articles are not it. I believe the experience will help me down the line, but it doesn’t feed my soul. Just my bank account. But the bank account matters too. More than I wish it had to.
I just know there’s more to this passion of mine. Even though it might be minimal, what I’m doing here touches people. Even when I don’t expect it to.
I want to take it beyond where it is. This particular direction I’ve been heading with writing professionally isn’t the way I want to go. But I have to do it a little while longer before I change course.
I believe I have a gift for writing, and I believe and see that it can be used to help me and my family financially. But I don’t want it to just be a choice between the two.
Ever the idealist, I continue to look for ways to make it be both.