Freelance Writing: A Balancing Act
As every freelance writer will tell you, setting financial goals is crucial. If we’re going to make a real living at writing, we’ve got to see the money flow in steadily. I set my goals for the first few months of this year, and will be watching as I ponder the need for a supplemental job. After a year of writing for clients, I’m seeing some increases-good. But I’m also seeing some significant increases in my costs, enough to send me scrambling.
It’s been a cold month here in my world, and over the weekend I ran out of fuel oil. Thanks to the lackadaisical business approach of my supplier, the nights/weekend emergency number in the phone book was incorrect. They have NO answering machine or contact information on their office door, leaving me with no way to contact them and buy fuel over a weekend when the overnight temperatures dropped to the teens. Yesterday I was finally able to get oil delivered and then get the junk from the bottom of the tank cleaned out of my ancient furnace. Some 48 hours later the house warmed up, but I was out over $700, with another bill to arrive in the mail for the remainder of the oil (500+ gallon tank, fuel over $3 a gallon- do the math!). That kind of unexpected cost happens every now and then, but it’s been combined with a $400 a month increase in costs for someone I provide care for-that will have to come out of my pocket. It’s the kind of bump in the road that sends anyone reeling in this tight economy.
So, I have some work to do. Though not first on the list, one is to find a new fuel oil provider. I’ve reviewed my earnings for the month to date and I’m over my anticipated goal at this point-very good news. And I spent part of the weekend feverishly (well, actually freezing cold and trying to type with gloves on) applying for new freelance jobs and writing like my life depended on it! This week I’ll have to add more time for networking and recruiting than normal. It’s something I’ve learned to incorporate in my weekly routine, but right now a little extra promotion is called for.
Every self-employed individual out there knows this story. It’s not a new revelation, just a reminder to all of us that planning, forward thinking and careful living are part and parcel of the freedom we’ve chosen in this choice of a career. Resilience and determination must be part of our toolkit.
Balance in all things, right? Even the best laid plans can suddenly hit a skid when the furnace malfunctions, or there’s an unexpected medical bill. How do you plan for the unexpected? Do you have reserves or a client you can call on for extra assignments when times are tight?