I know what you all must be thinking when you look at my constant pictures in pajama shirts and read about how I haven’t moved from the couch in four days: Wow! What a glamorously lethargic life! That freelance writing lifestyle might just be for me! Well, slow your roll, aspiring po-ta-toes. It’s not all glitz and endless trips to the kitchen, though, truth be told, the trips may be plentiful. While much of the freelance writing process is open to a slovenly appearance, bizarre mannerisms, playing your weird music as loud as you want, fill in more obnoxious behavior here, there are some things you must remain mindful of. Below I have detailed my cautions for potential new writers:
Step Away From The Away Message
Perhaps you don’t think about your Skype away message. That would be understandable. I certainly don’t think about mine. But just last week I had to Skype a potential client, so I added them as a contact and this popped up: “When you tell me I'm the only one you need, sweet and tenderly. And your love, it breaks the clouds surrounding me.” What am I supposed to read from that? Now, I clearly let my freak flag fly when it comes to Twitter, blogging, etc, but this is Skype! If you’re in the freelance realm, it might as well be LinkedIn! Would you post “I am an alien from a faraway galaxy. I have transformed myself into this away message. As you are reading this, I am having sex with your eyeballs. I know you like it because you're smiling” on your LinkedIn? I sincerely doubt it. Just don’t fill out an away message! Or if you must, do a dad-joke style quip that you could say around the water cooler or to a five-year-old. That’s safe. Also, keep an eye on your Skype pic. I suggest you make it match your freelancer profile pic, rather than a picture that appears to be a bare butt but is actually your elbow crease looking rather voluptuous. That’s a bit too edgy for this gig.
Go For Walks
Before freelance writing, I wasn’t exactly the “outdoorsy type.” Though I suppose I’m not exactly “rustic” now. But there’s a funny thing that can happen when you spend your days sitting down in the same house where you spend your nights sitting down. You start to feel a little off. Like maybe, just maybe, this is as far as the world expands. Like the house is your own personal matrix. Your life is a science fiction novel. The colors of the interior seem to fade, all becoming shades of gray and sepia. Your senses begin to dull. Outside noises startle you. If you don’t escape the confines of this couch in this room, you will certainly become a literal pod person. Any room can be a pod, after all. So go for walks. It’s good for you. Nature relieves stress. The outdoors is pretty. Real colors exist there. And on the plus side, you’re your own boss. You can go for walks every 3 hours if you really want to. You can bring your computer and walk all day! That might defeat the purpose, but the point, because there is a point, is that you should walk.
Prepare To Be Ghosted
Ghosting is a term now used when someone stops texting someone else out of the blue and NEVER ACKNOWLEDGES THEM AGAIN. This has become a common practice in the dating world, which is pretty depressing. Our generation has a thing about not being the bad guy or having difficult conversations, according to surveys I’ve read online, so many solve the “breakup that isn’t really a breakup because we weren’t official” issue with radio silence. That blows. And you know what blows even more? Sending a full assignment, then the edits requested to a client and having them NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE YOU AGAIN. How often does this happen? All. The. Time. It’s really upsetting. You need your clients to end the jobs so that they can give you ratings. If they never respond, you have to end the job after a few weeks because open jobs with no activity lower your job success score. If you end it and they’re unresponsive, you’ll never get a rating from them. So essentially, working on a freelance site is like dating a ton of people who don’t appreciate you and ghost once you commit. Yes, there are many wonderful clients who restore your faith in humanity just a little bit, but you can become very cynical very fast in this online community.
Pantslessness IS Next To Godliness, But…
This is a hard one. One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you don’t really need to wear clothes. Like, ever. You can do pjs all day, every day. This is what your elementary self dreamed about! You aren’t a square, you’re a squiggly goddamn line! Pants aren’t even a strong suggestion when you’re a freelance writer, they’re 100% optional! No one cares because no one is there! You can even Skype pantsless, so long as you put on a nice tunic...but then there is the danger. And a serious danger it is. I understand if you, like I, believe that pantslessness is next to Godliness. Home is where the pants aren’t. No pants are the best pants. But when you’re suddenly given the green light on a mostly-pantsless existence, you’re likely to become less mindful about your pantslessness. Dear reader, if you become a freelance writer and take advantage of pantsless Skyping, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, stand up. Don’t stand up. Nothing can make you. You just have to remember to stay down. And there are several other issues that can affect you in that vein. Don’t tip you laptop camera too low. Don’t cross your legs in a new way, or really move your legs at all. They should be like marble columns, forever holding up the cathedral ceiling of your Macbook. If you think you can keep your cool and your butt in your seat even if a bug flies at you, then you’re more prepared to freelance than I’ll ever be.
The warning signs are plentiful and varied. Fidgeting. Gorging on comforting foods all day long. An uptick in social media stalking. The urge to invite every delivery person in for a cup of tea. A slightly scary increase in how much you relate to the characters on the shows you watch. You might burst into tears just because Rebecca finally kisses Greg (please, go watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). The carnage a Pixar movie would wreak on you? You don’t even want to know. Friends, the main problem with freelance writing is that it is locationless. Great when you don’t have to be at work by a certain time and when you want to watch half a season of a sitcom in the middle of the day without the judging looks of others, not so great over time. Especially for introverts and ambiverts like myself (represent!), this can be a major issue. I have a tendency to hermit, because it’s comfy. It’s a lot of work to leave the house! So many factors! Putting on bras! But no matter how much you like alone time, you will eventually fall victim to The Hunger. The Great Hunger for interpersonal contact. Thankfully, this kind of “The Hunger” is easier and less messy to remedy than most other “The Hunger”s. Think cannibals, vampires, zombies, and so on. If you’re going to freelance write, make sure that you schedule regular social appointments. Join a book club or get a group together to watch a weekly TV show. The Bachelorette is two damn hours, so you’ll get to catch up with friends during the many many commercial breaks. No matter what, be proactive in relieving isolation. Because really, that delivery person could be waiting for an opportunity to cannibalize you, and that invitation to tea would be the perfect excuse. All “The Hunger”s are dangerous. If you remember nothing else, remember that.