I keep coming across disheartening reminders that having a successful career rarely translates into financial stability.
s.e. smith, a writer whose work I’ve followed for years on XOJane and elsewhere on the social justice internets, recently posted a list of tips for freelancers. In the introduction, ou* admitted:
Alas, the fact of the matter is that while I have been freelancing for seven years now, I still don’t have what I would call a wildly stable or successful career, and it’s highly likely that will never realistically happen. The same is true of many freelancers, especially in an economy where intellectual labour is valued less and less, which translates into lower fees for your work or dreaded offers of ‘exposure’ in offer for your free work.
The same day, I came across Susie Cagle’s post Eight years of solitude: on freelance labor, journalism, and survival. And it’s just depressing:
More newspapers and magazines want to profile me and the strange work I do than hire me to actually do it. Other writers and illustrators chastise, how can you complain about getting that kind of promotion? The year I got the most TV and radio spots and magazine write-ups, I made about $17,000.
Even though freelance writing doesn’t appeal to me for a number of reasons–I do best with external structure and routine, I need to be around people, and I just enjoy writing more when my rent doesn’t depend on it–it hurts to see how little our economy values people with skills and interests similar to mine. It’s incredibly frustrating to see so many people doing such good work but barely making enough to live on.