Last year was my first full year attempting to be a freelance music journalist.
At the end of the year, a local writer friend asked me to come to an undergraduate class she was teaching on “freelance journalism” to talk to the students about my first year in the game.
I was honest with them about my dismal year. Most of them looked sad and defeated. I told them about how, in order to survive, I turned to medical research studies to make money on the side.
I said, “No, seriously guys, don’t laugh.” I told them I had the number to the research centre saved in my cell phone, and that if any of them wanted it, I was happy to share my contact. After class, one young, aspiring freelance journalist approached me for the number. If he decides to pursue this ridiculous career, he’s definitely going to need it.
There are some lucky bastards who discover a way to make freelance writing work, but my first year was a financial nightmare. It was certainly the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. Even worse than that one time I started a doctoral program in continental philosophy, and worse than that other time I busted a three-point-turn in my 1982 Toyota Corolla at a police roadblock in an attempt to outrun the cops (I was a troubled youth).
By the end of last year, I made closer to $15,000 than $20,000. I reviewed an album for one music website (that shall go unnamed), and many months later an envelope arrived containing a check for $3. After taxes, I brought home about $2.03 for that one. Score!
Another music blog paid me $50 to write five posts each week. Major score! The majority of the things I wrote elsewhere paid somewhere between $15 and $50. I wrote a lot, and I didn’t see much of a reward. I spent many nights lying awake in bed—a bed that took up about ½ of the space in my air condition-less studio/office—sweating, panicking and scheming about how I was going to earn my next $2.03.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.