Many years ago, I met a literary agent who specialized in romance (I did a quick Google check just now and she’s still around). Excited beyond belief at my good fortune, I immediately launched into a babble about my writing hopes and dreams. She listened patiently, then held up her hand to stop my word vomit. I still remember what she told me:
“You won’t get rich writing unless you’re very, very lucky. Chances are you’ll never make enough to quit your day job. And never pay anyone who promises to teach you otherwise.”
I was recently reminded of this when a young acquaintance of mine emailed me about wanting to start a freelance writing career. She was very enthusiastic about a particular blog that had a special “membership” section that promised access to hundreds of well-paying freelance gigs for a “nominal monthly fee.” I was already familiar with the blog, and I pointed out to her that the blogger’s “freelance” career came after many years of being a staff writer for financial and business publications–in other words, she had the experience and by-lines to make pitches to the most receptive markets. These days, however, she makes a very nice living from selling the freelance dream to those dazzled by her success.
I don’t want to heap on this particular blogger, since she’s far from the only one. There are tons of writing blogs, and it’s rare to find one that doesn’t ask for money in one form or another, whether it’s for a collection of tips (which don’t really vary; I’ve checked out a few of the free ones) or requests for PayPal donations.
In this “gig economy,” the number of freelancers available is huge and growing every day. For every person who manages to eke out a living wage, there are probably a hundred thousand others who aren’t. The ones who are making it are putting in one hell of a lot of hard work. People who believe that freelancing is easy and can start making money right out of the gate are fools, plain and simple. I do my little things because I am extremely lucky that I don’t have to do it for money, and I never claim anything differently. And keep in mind that even if you do work your ass off, as many do, that’s still no guarantee of success.
If you’re smart, you know this.
If you’re not, someone will be happy to take your money and run.