Here we are, one month into my new and exciting life as a freelance writer. It’s still amazing, and most days I still feel like I don’t deserve this kind of opportunity. It’s not that I don’t have any confidence in my writing, hell, if anything putting myself out there more has increased my confidence. It’s really just that as I put more work out into the interwebs I start to wonder about the type of work I’m making. This opens up all sorts of scary self-critical thoughts.
See, right now I have maybe three steady gigs. None of which pay much on their own, but between the three of them I make just enough to cover my health insurance so that me working from home isn’t a financial burden on my family. I get to pick my own topics, mostly, which is great, but there is more potential in writing a certain way.
One of the places I write for pays based on shared ad revenue. For those uninitiated that means that the more people click on and read your piece the more you take home at the end of the month. Here’s my conflict, do I write stuffy, but impartial journalism, or do I go overboard on editorializing to drag in readers?
At first I scoffed at the idea of using potentially libelous headlines, but as the editors modified mine and I got more hits as a result I saw the value. Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable and I try to pick topics that won’t generate as much anger from the comments, so the ones that don’t do as well.
This got me to thinking, I’ve spent all this time wanting to be a writer, but now I finally have to figure out what sort of writer I want to be. It’s tempting to take the moral high-ground, but even though the husband keeps us fed and sheltered I don’t want to leave him solely responsible for our income indefinitely. I want to be successful, but I’m not sure what I think that looks like just yet.
One of the nice things about working for yourself is that you can restructure your job on the fly. Every week so far I’ve tried a slightly different approach to my craft. Shifted my focus from one outlet to another to see how much of a difference it would make to my overall take-home. Now, I’m feeling unsatisfied with fighting over ad clicks to make a buck when I could be doing more to hone my craft.
Ultimately, I need to figure out what my overall goal with this job. Do I want to be a jack-of-all-trades freelance blogger who’s work is scattered into the digital wind. Writing bits and pieces here and there just to make budget each month? Maybe I should just go off the deep end and embrace the new wave of salacious reporting that drives ad numbers. Do I want to make my mark as an author? Write actual books and have some sort of legacy?
Truth be told none of these options would be wrong. I might harp on the current mainstream media for deviating from what I was taught journalism was, but they are a product of their audience and I can hardly fault them for that.
Maybe my answer lays someone in the middle. I guess I don’t really know yet, but for now I’m planning to just take it one week at a time. Each morning I’ll refocus my efforts on the direction I’m trying out and most importantly, I’ll keep writing.