Some time ago, in 2008, I wrote a post about putting on blinders. In essence the post encourages readers to turn off the TV and all of its negativity and concentrate on goals.
Well, after a brief glimpse of the TV this morning, I feel it’s necessary to write an update to that post. This update is a bit more revealing and I think it’s necessary. Why am I writing this? I’m writing this because I’m sick and tired of negativity and the “Sky is Falling” hysteria that I see offline and online in the freelance writing community.
A Little History
We all have been through rough times and I want to share just a bit of mine. I’ve learned that my rough times were brought on as a result of lack of planning, short sightedness, ego and ignorance. Yes, market conditions contributed a small part to my hard times, but I realize I (we) brought it on ourselves.
My hubby and I both worked in the city (NYC) and earned decent salaries. Our courtship involved spending a lot of money. Not necessarily the wisest of expenditures, but we spent a lot of money.
Because we worked near each other we would meet for $100 lunches (this was back in the late 1980’s so $100 or more for lunch was a lot). If we spent $100 for lunch, just imagine what our dinner bills were.
After we got married we spent money like crazy. Things started to change after we had kids. Children have a way of making you realize what is important and what isn’t. We started thinking; why work all those hours, pay ridiculous prices for daycare just so we can buy material things?
In a Deep Hole
Even though we had good salaries, we also had accumulated quite a bit of debt. Buying all of those material things was fun at the time of purchase, but we became slaves to the monthly payments. Our debt is what kept us on the 9-5 merry-go-round.
We decided to bite the bullet because the guilt of leaving the kids in daycare was eating us alive. We pulled in our belt and I left my job after the birth of our second child. Within six months of quitting my job, we got the horrible news that my husband was downsized. In other words, we had two kids, lots of debt and no income.
The Stripping of the Ego
We were both at an age and a salary level that made it difficult to find replacement income. With the ever-shrinking job market, finding a job at any salary level was nearly impossible. We had to make some tough decisions.
We gave back the cars we could no longer afford and bought two Hoopties. You guys know what a hooptie is. I’ll put it to you this way; we bought 2 hoopties for less than $1,000 and drove them for a year. They were ugly but we maintained them and kept them going.
Words of advice: If you ever run into financial difficulties and need to buy a hooptie, look for a Toyota or a Subaru.
My hubby and I have fond memories of our hoopties. We still get a great belly laugh every time we drive up a steep hill. In our old hoopties we would have to get a good running start while approaching the hill and then literally stand on the accelerator while going up the hill. I swear we left brain-sized dents on the roof of the car as we stood on the accelerator. They’re also fondly called Fred Flintsone mobiles.
Here we were, two corporate executive types driving hoopties and dodging calls from bill collectors. I knew things were really bad when I called a debt consolidation service and they told us our situation was too dire for them to help us.
While times were financially tough back then, the one thing we knew in our gut was “this too shall pass.” Fortunately the kids were very young and they don’t remember much of these tough times. We tried to keep them fed, happy and loved.
Enough of the Hard Times Sob Story, Let’s Lighten Things Up
As my daughter woke me from a sound sleep this morning to ask me to drive her to the bus stop (it was raining and she didn’t want her hair to get messed up), I caught a glimpse of the news saying that the average household income has dropped 7%. When I got back from the bus stop, I watched as media big wigs and pontificating pundits went on at length about how bad things are.
The job market is tight, people are out of work, gas prices are rising, income is dropping, the sky is falling and …what about Timmy?
All I can say is give it a rest! My goodness, things are changing. The job market is drying up but is it really? The old job market is drying up in favor of a new job market. IBM, Bulova and the Horse and Buggy job market dried up too in favor of a new and different job market. The cheese moved (Who Moved My Cheese?). It’s time to take off the shackles of the old way of thinking and embrace the new. This isn’t easy, but it must be done.
Things are Worse (or so they’d like you to believe)
Going back for a moment to my poor pitiful me story about how we got into our financial rut (I left out the part about the real estate market and our venture into landlordship and a few other real bone head moves), I’m in better shape now than I was a year or two ago. You see, the type of financial hole we dug is real deep. The hole is too deep to get out of in one, two or even three years. We’re still digging out of it but we owe less and make more now than we did a year ago.
According to the media, this shouldn’t be. The pundits would have me believe that I’m worse off than I was a few years ago. They’re wrong. Each year we get closer to becoming debt free and we continue to add to our income. So, for us, we see the silver lining. The glass is half full, not half empty.
OK, Now Let’s Talk about Freelance Writing
Think of the drama attached to the following words:
- Demand Studios/eHow
- Richard Rosenblatt
- Suite 101
- Google AdSense
- SEO/Page Rank
And the list can go on. Each of the above invokes some sort of drama in the online writing community. There is hoopla, theories, pundits, hatters, lovers, brown nosers and more. Just the mention of the word Panda and online writers start wondering what they need to do to keep Panda happy (tame it, feed it, ignore it…pick one).
Some writers are down right pissed off at Richard Rosenblatt and his Demand Media empire while others quiver at the thought of an email from big brother Google. I’ve heard that Suite, HubPages and other online writing venues were scams and that a website isn’t worth a thing unless it has thousands of backlinks.
There are pontificating pundits, experts and advisors online too. If I spent my time following them all, I’d be dizzy from going around in circles. What I’ve learned in my time of writing online is that you (spelled Y-O-U) through your determination, focus and experimentation are the best person to decide how to become successful online.
Here’s what I learned about online freelance writing:
- Quality trumps quantity
- My gut is a better indicator of what’s right and what to write than any expert I’ve listened to
- Determination, focus and consistency yield results
- Authenticity beats airs and ego any day (Ken at Blogging for Dads has this quality licked!)
- And last, but definitely not least, the School of Hard Knocks is my best educator. In other words, you don’t need a college degree to be a successful online writer.
So there you have it. My rags to un-tattered cloth story. Geez, all this and I haven’t even had a cup of coffee. I’m putting on my running shoes to run off the rest of this energy!
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About the Author: Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites which include Tidbits and Stuff, BLULOW, A Dose of Health and a few other sites/blogs scattered around the internet.