While hunting for subject matter for the blog I actually get paid to write, I found a story on the results of a survey by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. I didn’t participate in this research, but I might as well have, as the results really hit close to home.
According to the SABEW survey, freelance journalists earn an average of $25,000-$30,000 per year. Sadly, that’s dead-on accurate for me right now. Two out of every five were laid off, like yours truly. Three out of four respondents said they make less money than they did when they worked full-time, with one out of five reporting a difference of more than 50%. Yeah, that sounds familiar.
However, some of the results were completely different from my situation. The most glaring example: Two-thirds of respondents said they wouldn’t go back to a full-time news job. My desire to find a full-time position has not wavered one inch since the day I walked out of my old office. I would start tomorrow if I could.
Freelancing isn’t all bad. I love working from home. I love working in a T-shirt and shorts in warmer weather, or in a sweatshirt and sweatpants when the temperature drops. I love taking the laptop out on the balcony when the weather permits. I love the fact that I have the flexibility to run errands, schedule appointments, and take care of things that full-time employees could never find time for during the work week.
As for things I don’t miss, I certainly don’t miss trying to look busy during periods that aren’t busy. Let’s be honest: Unless it’s crunch time on a vital deadline, no one works 100% of the time. Anyone who tells you they don’t use the Internet connection at work for personal matters is completely and thoroughly full of horse crap.
I don’t miss commuting one bit. Commuting sucks no matter what your destination is, but when you’re forced to navigate a tourist-laden landmark like Grand Central Terminal, it’s much worse. I certainly don’t miss the once or twice every winter when I caught a cold that would slay the Greek gods from someone on the PATH train who sneezed or coughed on me without bothering to cover their mouth.
Six of the 67 respondents to the SABEW survey said they were earning more than $100,000 annually by freelancing. God bless them. If I could pull in that kind of cash, maybe I’d join the two-thirds who say they wouldn’t return to a full-time job. But at $25,000-$30,000? Um, yeah, full-time it is — if I can ever get anyone to actually hire me, that is.