How do you think about your freelance writing career? What are your dreams for your writing business? Are you fishing or farming?
When you go fishing you by and large grab a pole and head for the nearest body of water. Your plan is to catch a fish for dinner or maybe for dinner and lunch the next day.
When you farm, you spend a great deal of time preparing the soil, scatter as much seed as you possibly can without worrying if some of the seeds fall outside the borders of your land. You then nurture the land until the seeds begin to sprout. You remove weeds, apply fertilizer, make sure the plants get enough water and eventually harvest enough food to last a year of so.
Fishing tends to be one off while farming tends to be long term
Oh sure, there are exceptions – I’ve worked on commercial fishing boats; the investment in both time and energy is certainly long term there. And yes, I’ve occasionally grown a pot or two of tomatoes – hardly farming.
When I first started writing for money I submitted articles over the transom, first to one magazine and then another. It didn’t take me long to realize that even though I was selling, and selling articles made it
easier to sell more articles, that I was going to starve to death financially because I wasn’t developing a solid relationship with each editor and getting repeat gigs from many. Instead I was fishing for a place to publish and get paid one at a time. I knew I needed a different strategy.
Stumbling into a freelance writing career
Well, that’s hindsight. What actually happened was I discovered computers, which I loved because they’d check my spelling and I got hired to edit a magazine. Out of those to happenings I developed a reputation for being able to write about the then brand new personal computers and was hired by a computer company. I was also asked to help the magazine’s owner complete a book when the original ghostwriter couldn’t figure out what needed to be said.
I’ve been able to create several publications and have a successful career in ghostwriting. I was finally beginning to farm my freelance writing career.
It’s not exactly about niche writing
This is the reason so many people who advise writers tell them to get a niche and work it hard. That’s fine, as far as it goes. I don’t think, however, its worth fretting too much about what niche you should choose. At least for me, various niches have always found me when I’ve written about what’s important to me.
Planning your freelance writing career is ideal, maybe
I know there are writers out there who have planned their freelance writing career. They are the ones who insist you need to suss out a writing niche. They are able to make a plan and stick with it, apparently for years and years.
Then there are writers like me who knew I wanted to write from the first time I enjoyed a novel and realized it had been written by someone. I’ve worked inside jobs and freelanced. I’ve tried my hand at fiction and almost sold a romance novel – they asked to see the next one and there never was a next one.
Yes, I’ve learned to be a better farmer. Another truth is I also love to fish – to try something new. Which probably explains some of the ups and downs I’ve had.
Frankly I wouldn’t want anyone else’s freelance writing career.
Do you fish or do you farm, or, like me, do you do both? Tell us in comments.
Write well and often,