Ah, the allure of freelance writing. The creative freedom. The flexible work hours. The intellectual stimulation. The grinding poverty.
Consider freelance business journalists. While no one expects them to earn as much as the people they cover, you might think given their field they had made a financially sound, strategically minded career decision. They typically earn about $25,000 a year (and no benefits or pension, of course). That’s according to a survey by Society of American Business Writers and Editors, which also found that three quarters of respondents made considerably more when they had salaries. http://bit.ly/fKwscn
There are fewer of those full-time jobs in journalism, of course, with the outsourcing of the writing trades, and the technological extinction of the newspaper and magazine business. Their replacements, online content mills, do need copy of course … they’re just not willing to pay much for it, if anything. They’re inclined to interpret that “free” part of freelancing literally.
So do you really want to be a journalist today? http://bit.ly/ikAmbx
OK, not all freelancers are suffering. Specialized music writers can make $70,000 a year, according to research by Berklee College of Music, so biz writers might want to follow that Pied Piper. http://bit.ly/hZI3UR
And there is further hope, if only by way of analogy. Smartphones with their high-resolution cameras have pretty much obviated the need for traditional point-and-shoots. But sales of more powerful cameras like SLRs have increased nearly 29 percent since 2009, according to research firm NPD. Independent writers might think of themselves SLRs and market themselves accordingly, offering something that can’t be duplicated by some mug in Bangalore or Kiev cranking out keyword-laden ad bait at $5 a day. http://nyti.ms/dJ8dwZ
Or look at the ongoing popularity of wristwatches. People surely don’t need them to tell the time (their smartphones do that too, and usually more accurately). They’ve gone from a necessity to an anachronism. But against the odds, against all reason, they go on and on. Maybe quality journalism will go that route.
Regardless, those freelance business writers probably don’t care. Two-thirds of respondents to that same SABEW survey said they’d never go back to a full-time job. You gotta do what you love. Food, shelter, and health insurance can be overrated.