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This freelance writer has spent the last year writing about financial investments and cooking for articles on the internet. She shares how difficult it has been to receive criticism of her work, and how she has had to overcome personal challenges with the people she works with, even though she is working from home.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I worked as a freelance writer for one year for a company. I would describe myself as determined, dependable and thorough.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am an African American female. Honestly, I am not sure how this hurt me in this position. This position required that I have my picture up on my website. After that, the company decided to stop using my name and photograph with my blog post. I am not certain why. After going through about three to four different managers in one year, I began to think that some of the treatment I received was a part of a personal vendetta. The last person that proofread my articles before posting on my blog shared the same name as a college and high school peer. I thought that that was highly coincidental. He assured me that he had no relation to the person I knew. I never saw a photograph so I cannot be certain. I cannot say that what I experienced was racism necessarily. Though all of the proofreaders were white. But then again, so were most of the upper management for any company that I have worked for. I asked numerous questions about their intentions, and they all ensured me that it was "highly coincidental." They seemed to have affiliation with another person in my past. Therefore, I felt that they may have been using their jobs to antagonize me for that individual. This person was not the same person that I referred to earlier.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I wrote articles for a blog about investing and also for a food blog. Both positions required a monthly submission. I was paid a flat fee per article plus any earnings from Pay-Per-Click or search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I enjoyed the autonomy of this position. I worked from home, where I think more clearly when I am not interrupted. On a scale of one to 10, I would rank the job itself, without the staff and pay, a 9. If I include the staff that proofread my articles and the pay that I received, I would rank it a 6. Working with some of the staff was challenging. However, I was able to forge a relationship with my indirect manager. The pay in one of the blog positions was not what I would have hoped, but I enjoyed the topic. The investment blog was also enjoyable work, and the salary was more generous after the initial stages of setting up the website. However, there was not enough work to make a decent living with just this one blog. To unleash my full enthusiasm, I would need to work with an appreciative and understanding client and be paid significantly more. If I am paid more, I can slow down and make sure each article is perfect, rather than simply trying to write in volumes to make ends meet. With the investment blog, I was paid over $75 per 400 word article. Therefore, it made writing more enjoyable.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I enjoy writing about food and investment opportunities. Both are of interest to me. I enjoy sharing knowledge that I have learned, even if I am not earning enough to actually use the advice myself.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: Neither of these positions was full time. Therefore, no one should base their opinions about freelance writing from these particular contract positions.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I actually found these opportunities on the Internet. I was elated to find the opportunity, because unemployment was at an all time high in my area. I was struggling to make ends meet, and I was constantly being harassed on other jobs that I had taken in the past. Therefore, I was somewhat discouraged about the job market in general. I was happy to find something to keep my mind occupied that also provided some income.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: When working on the Internet, there are a lot of job hazards. I had numerous hacking mishaps and a number of viruses from searching the Internet. I learned that virus protection and firewalls were indeed a necessity.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: I learned that people can form alliances against you for reasons that you are not aware of and often, the alliances may affect how you are evaluated.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: Aside from the coincidental name similarity incident with my colleague, I actually suspected that someone from one of my blogs was hacking my computer. I thought this was out of line since the computer was my personal computer and additionally, I was hired as a contractor. I later found a file sharing program on my computer where someone was spying into all my files, as well as, someone had changed my Microsoft Word documents to make it seem as if someone other than myself had authored my documents. It made me realize that nothing is private or sacred in the Internet world after my privacy was breached. Consequently, freelance writers that use the Internet as a resource should fight for better privacy laws.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I get up and go to work each day, because I need money. Secondarily, even though I am highly familiar with the topic I am writing on, I always learn something new. I enjoy learning new facts and expanding my mind.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: In writing, there are some rules to follow. However, the art form is highly subjective in many ways. Some people know how to give constructive criticism and others do not. I found many people that were not as skilled at constructive criticism as I would have liked. I also felt that some people were being highly critical for personal reasons that had nothing to do with my writing style.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job was only stressful, because of my low salary and because of the staff. Some staff members were more reasonable than others.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: These were only two part time positions that only equated to approximately $5000 or less per year. This was not nearly enough to be happy or to live within my means. I had other income to supplement this income, but writing as a whole is not a lucrative profession unless you write for a major publication or company. Professional writers will be paid more.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: None, unless you count a "staycation" as a vacation. I could not afford to take vacation. Freelance writing is not a lucrative field unless you land big contracts with a well-known magazine or a technical writing position with a company.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: I had experience writing in a consulting business. I edited college dissertations and college applications. I also had some ghost writing experience. I leveraged that knowledge to obtain those two positions.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: The pay is thankless. Develop strong contacts in the field to land a position in technical writing or work for a major publication. I knew technical writers that made $80,000 or more. However, most of these writers had engineering backgrounds. Without this type of background, I have seen few high paying salaries. However, there are some that exist.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: I would like to have my own magazine one day as a side hobby. I envisioned a travel magazine or luxury magazine similar to Travel and Leisure or Robb Report. I also enjoy photojournalism magazines similar to National Geographic. Celebrity and industry news is intriguing, as well as, resolving relationship issues. I enjoy film, music, and I have an interest in psychology. Therefore, a magazine or website dealing with relationships would be fairly engaging. In five years, if I were writing for a major company or my own magazine, I would find that more rewarding. However, I rarely have the time to devote to a side venture with the number of freelance assignments I need to complete make ends meet.