Freelancing Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be
When I decided to pursue a freelance writing career I had sugar-coated dreams of writing a novel, fireside, with my cats curled around my feet, while also churning out three blog posts a day. I’d finish it all just in time to take a quick catnap and do some yoga before picking my son up from school.
I envisioned the words that would spill forth from my fingertips with ease, and the readers who would flock to my work by the dozens, excited to pore over my latest musings.
I was so naïve.
What I didn’t foresee was the hours I’d spend staring at a blank screen willing myself to write anything, my fingers clunking slowly against the keys as ideas stalled and words escaped me.
On top of that, I didn’t anticipate the promotion. The all-day, time sucking, hair-pulling aspect of marketing, which has consumed my life and taken up most of my available time.
I spend hours (literally) every day promoting my work.
I belong to 20 writing and blogging groups on Facebook. Each group has its own special day for self-promotion, and I record the days on a spreadsheet. Every morning I log into the groups and promote something — a blog post, my website, my Twitter feed — all in the hopes of getting more eyes on my work. (And, so as to not be a jerk, I also take the time to read and comment on my fellow group members’ writing, which takes another 30-plus minutes.)
Then I post something to my Facebook author page, promote my blog through Instagram, Tweet out a link to my writing, pin an article to Pinterest, and cross-post my older work to LinkedIn and my website.
After that, I obsess over the stats. Do I have more likes? Any additional claps? Retweets? Newsletter subscribers? New followers? Are people engaging with my work? Are they actually reading the full posts? Do they like what I’m writing? Are they going to validate my entire existence by letting me know they see me, they get what I’m doing, and they want more of it? Or am I going to spend another day in a black hole of despair because no one clapped/liked/followed/virtual hugged me?
Somewhere along the way, my life has reverted back to high school, where all I wanted out of my day was to get some acknowledgement from someone cooler than me (which was pretty much everyone).
I find myself jealous of cliquey writers — I see groups of authors promoting each other’s work on Twitter and I try to add a little comment or throw out a cute quip hoping one of them will notice me, but then I get shoved and walked over by a louder, cuter, Tweeter with more followers and better hair.
So, I’m trying to juggle all of it: the writing, the marketing, the stats game, the anxiety. I’m trying not to focus on the number of followers (or lack thereof) I have on any given platform. I’m trying not to stress about the number of reads other writers get on Medium and just keep my eyes on my own paper. I’m trying, I’m trying, I’m trying…
I know I have to chart my own course and to do things my own way. I know it takes time, and people raking in thousands of dollars a month have been at this a lot longer than I have. I know this is my job now, and there’s a reason it’s called “work.” I know I have to keep at it. I know I’ll be fine in the long run. I know, I know, I know…
But, I have to admit, it’s exhausting spending hours each day virtually screaming for attention. The “look at me, check out what I’m doing!” aspect of freelancing isn’t something I enjoy or expected. But it seems to be part of the game, at least at this stage in my career.
So, I’ll suck it up, promote the work, and squeeze in the writing when I can. And deep within the recesses of my brain will be those visions of fireside, cat-snuggled novel writing and blog posts that all but craft themselves. I’ll get there. Someday.