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freelance incomeMy previous post was all about my expenses as a writer, and just after I published it I came across an article in TIME titled “10 Characteristics of Debt-Free People.” This intrigued me!

Many freelance writers struggle with slow or no-paying clients, which makes it difficult to reach financial freedom. Lack of money quickly hinders one of the great joys of freelancing: Flexibility and freedom with time.

I’ve learned over the years it is best to collect project fees up front 100%, provide clear proposals that detail the work to be performed and the rate required, and diplomatically cut connections with clients who compromise payments. (Even so, I still had to expend extra energy and time chasing a slow-payer earlier this year. If I hadn’t been persistent in my requests, he said he was just going to ignore my final invoice. Late payment received and connection promptly cut.)

In the article I referenced above, the writer touches on a few traits that I think are inherently found in freelancers:

  1. Self-reliant. All for one and one for one! Freelancers are one-man or one-woman shows. We don’t get sick days. We take working vacations. We process invoices. Understudies, paid non-working vacations, and employees are not generally associated with the freelance life.
  2. Patient. Okay, maybe as we wait to hear back from an editor or writing contest we may not be the most patient. Overall though, when you’re carving your way in the freelance world you know that rewards are not presented tomorrow for what you’ve done today. Heck, remember how many years it took me to get paid after I queried an article?
  3. Self-confident. Back in our school days my sister would say, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!” Similarly, if you lack confidence in your abilities, potential clients will feel the same.

I could easily place the balance of the traits mentioned in the article to other freelancers I know. This could mean that freelancers are more capable of financial freedom than they realized!

Financial freedom means something different to everyone. I think most people would agree that it means the individual is not struggling with money. That freedom is not necessarily permanent when reached. We all might face unexpected expenses at different times in our lives. I try to maintain a financial homeostasis by:

  • Living debt-free, except for our mortgage.
  • Reasonably and regularly raising my rates.
  • Actively looking for ways to minimize (professional and personal) expenses.

Thinking so much about money and writing made me think of a quote from Mark Twain a writer in my critique group paraphrased earlier this week: “Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”