My webinar for NAIWE on surviving as a freelance journalist is today. The PowerPoint is ready, I’m about to get caffeined up, and I’m thinking. What did I miss in my outline? Nothing really.
But it’s more of the intangible things I’m ruminating over. I’m thinking about what survival means.
I think you have to go through times of surviving. For those doing this as a career—and those who need the money—you go through bouts when you’ll write just about anything to pay the bills.
Then you go through periods of thriving.
But somehow, when you’re on your own—independent, self-employed, what have you—it always comes back to survival. Even decades in.
Because if you stop working at it, there’s no cushion to save you.
Some people in traditional jobs may not mentally show up every day, but they still go and their job is still there. Their company is still there. There are other companies to go to if one doesn’t work out.
For the journalist, if you stop doing it, there’s no other company to go to if you want to be self-employed . . . you’re it.
I am nearly 15 years in. Sure, I don’t go through times of no work, but I have gone through lean times. When I felt like I was surviving. Or starving like I was 15 years ago. This is okay. (If nothing else, it keeps you on your feet so you know where you want to head next with your business.)
So don’t think that if you’re feeling like you are in survival mode that you are a failure . . . especially if you’re experienced. We all have to keep hustling to stay in business, and self-employed businesses ebb and flow. You’ll start hustling again. And if you are and nothing is happening, it will.
Just by sticking with it, so long as this is what you want to be doing, you’re surviving.
Kristen Fischer is a copywriter and journalist living at the Jersey Shore. She worked as a reporter and copyeditor for Gannett before launching her full-time freelance business in 2005. Her work has been published in Parents, New Jersey Monthly, Prevention, Woman’s Day, SheKnows, and Healthline.