What it’s really like.

If you go down the rabbit hole of what it is like pursuing a career in freelance writing, you’ll find millions of websites telling you how anyone can do it. Then they will offer pages of nearly identical advice and lists of links to other sites where you can find work. Links that contain affiliate commissions for click-through.

What follows will be dozens of listings for writing SEO content to trick Google into ranking content higher so it gets more traffic. Presumably to sell things. But you’ll need to thread the needle of writing that is engaging and accomplishes the desired results. I call this “writing by the numbers”.

In fact, once you have composed your posts, you can run them through websites that will rate them for SEO and tell you if you did it right or not.

Blog posts and list posts (the coined term Listicle makes me want to eat bullets) become a watered down version of creative writing when they take on the baggage of sales, but it is an unavoidable concession. You’ll have to decide if you’re alright trading some part of your integrity to help sell garbage to people who don’t need it.

Figure out what your soul is worth and then trade it. All to pursue a passion.

Every once in a while you get to work on something that feels right, though. It pours out of you and it doesn’t feel forced. There is no struggle to complete the task because it’s what you do naturally. The pay will be low and you won’t care because the fulfillment will be otherworldly.

Those projects are what get you through the part that feels like work. The concept that you may see more of them keeps you going.

But don’t let the rose-colored shades lull you into a false sense of security. Most of what you do will be a job like any other. You’ll hate that you have to do it for money, and that will make it feel like it saps it of meaning. In my experience it does. The amount of time you take to recover from this sapping dictates how often you’ll get to projects that are effortless.

The wins are better than any I’ve ever felt at a traditional job. This means that on balance, pursuing writing for a living is better by default. I’m accustomed to feast or famine so it isn’t unfamiliar territory to me.

The assertion that “Anyone can do it!” is a stretch. You’re gonna have to be comfortable with lean times. If you can’t handle wildly variable income and need stability, get a job.

If you are a born masochist, it might be worth it. I guess that makes me one.

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