One of the most challenging things about being a freelance writer is that there isn’t really a well-defined career path laid out for you.
In a regular career, there are specific rungs on your ladder that are pretty well identified. For example, when I worked in IT, I started out answering phones for a help desk. After a few months and after earning some certifications, I moved up to desktop support. From there, it was a step up to being a systems administrator. I ended my career as a network engineer, just a stone’s throw away from going into IT management.
As a freelancer, though, my career has been more of a zig-zag pattern. I started out doing web content articles, which I still do today. Along the way, I’ve added certain types of skills and tasks, such as copywriting, website content, ebooks, sales letters, and even the occasional print article. In many ways, I’m still doing the same things today that I was when I started out.
Still, if I look across the entire path of my writing career, I can see specific points where it was time to make a decision about how that career would go. You might recognize some of these points from your own career.
The Web Writer
Like many folks, I started out writing articles. When I first began, I was working, primarily, for a single client. That client had plenty of work to keep me busy, as I was still working on my master’s degree at the time. I was happy as a writer, doing one type of content and working for one client. There came a time, though, when I needed more. I finished my degree, and working for a single client wasn’t good enough. So, I had to take a step up on the career ladder.
I realized, before too long, that there was plenty of demand for what I was doing. I started to throw out feelers here and there. I began bidding on work at freelance websites. I piddled around in some writer forums, and eventually found myself with a small but steady list of clients. “This is it. This is what a writing career is all about,” I thought to myself. Now, I take pride in the work that I do. I’m a good writer. I’m not the best out there, but I have a decent grasp of the rules of the language and I have a good ear for what clients like. I’ve worked hard to hone certain skills that clients want out of their writers. Believe it or not, doing a good job eventually became a problem. I found that there was not only plenty of work for me to do, but there was actually more work to do that what I could finish on my own. I found myself, yet again, making changes.
I can’t say exactly when it happened. Maybe it was when I first outsourced some of my work. Maybe it was when I hired an administrative assistant. Heck, maybe it was when I started my blog. But at some point, I found that I wasn’t just writing for money anymore. I wasn’t just freelancing; I was running a business. Now, I don’t know if entrepreneur is the last stage of this career path. I suppose there are, if I think about it, some other peaks I can hit. Editor, publisher, maybe even web writing mogul. But entrepreneur is where I’m at right now, and it’s where I’m most comfortable. So, what about you? Where is your writing career taking you?
Photo by Paul Worthington