There's an episode of Friends that has stuck with me for a long time, in which Rachel is fed up with her waitressing job at Central Perk. She wants to break into the fashion industry, but a lack of formal education or any real job experience means that her horde of poorly-edited resumes has turned up nothing. Joey and Chandler suggest that she quit her current job, and get "The Fear."
"If you quit this job, you then have the motivation to go after a job you really want!"
It makes sense, but like Chandler, you might be "too afraid" to follow this advice.
Here's the thing though: The Fear really works!
When I started freelance writing, I had no reputation and no published content. The Fear of no more spaghetti in the cupboard, no decent cat food in the kitties' dishes, and perhaps no more tiny one-bedroom apartment to shelter us drove me to seek out all kinds of crazy writing opportunities, and work for less than peanuts to make something of myself. I hooked up with an academic writing company and a content farm (the first of which paid better) and eventually chose to work exclusively with the content farm just so that I didn't have to be embarrassed when explaining what kind of work I did. Well, not as embarrassed, anyway.
After a year of working my ass off, making connections and getting things published, I had a decent portfolio and a few extra job offers, though they were extremely underpaid. I took them, because I still needed spaghetti and cat food, but soon I was able to move up into the world of middle-wage content farming! The day I completed my first Scripted post for $24.50, I felt like anything was possible. Sauce to go with my spaghetti! Tuna for the cats! New sheets!
Several years later I am averaging $50 per hour with my writing, and I've moved my furry gang into a 3-bedroom house with a gorgeous enclosed back yard just for them. They eat some of the most nutritious cat food in the world, and I have time to make pizza, bean burgers, curry and all kinds of fun things for dinner. We can afford to use the air conditioner!
Life is good, and it is all thanks to The Fear. Well, several Fears, in fact: working under someone I don't respect; getting up too early in the morning; commuting; doing a job that doesn't matter to me; and being stuck firmly in one location forever.
There are 3 things I've learned that will take your freelance writing career to the next step:
What are you afraid of? Is it enough to make you take the plunge?