Writer Veselina Yaneva discusses six vital questions to ask yourself before quitting your day job to pursue a writing career.
Feeling the urge to leave the boring 9-5 lifestyle to follow your passion? That’s the dream of many artists, including writers. But will this be the right choice for you?
Asking yourself the following six questions can help you decide whether you should drop your career for full-time writing.
1. Is writing full-time really for me?
Being your own boss, doing what you love, sounds like a dream come true. But isn’t it too good to be true?
Are you organised enough to keep deadlines without any monitoring? Can you calculate how much time to allocate to a task without the help of any manager?
Finally, will you be happy writing full-time, or will it be better for you to keep your day job and do freelance writing work on the side? Only you can tell.
2. Can I afford to rely solely on my writing-related income?
‘Art for art’s sake’… Undeniably, wonderful works are created when writers believe that art needs no justification, and that it doesn’t have to serve any political, didactic, or another goal.
And yet, your job is meant to serve your financial goals. Unromantic as it sounds, everybody needs to make ends meet.
‘That’s money, the substance that makes the world real’ (Sally Rooney – Normal People).
Can you keep financial security without a day job? Is your niche lucrative enough? How will you fund your business at the start of this creative adventure?
Don’t forget that transitioning into a full-time writing career requires sufficient financial resources.
3. Do I have a sensible long-term financial plan?
You will need to define your goals and develop a financial strategy that involves cash flows for a period longer than one year.
In the article ‘The Importance of Financial Planning as a Freelancer’, Noemi, who used to be an English teacher before becoming a full-time freelancer, provides the following guidelines:
- Create and Maintain a Budget
- Save for Retirement
- Invest in your freelance career
- Organize your Business Finances
- Stay Ahead of Taxes
- Prioritize Your Health
Don’t forget that your health insurance will be your responsibility without an employer.
In the article, ‘How to change your career to full-time writer,’ Kayla Lee, who changed her career twice before she became a full-time writer, advises:
‘So my business model is: Sell content to businesses to make money now. Write books to sell for money later.’
According to Kayla, web content is ‘guaranteed income’.
On the other hand, when you rely exclusively on a book advance, you have no track record of actual sales/royalty income, and there is always the risk of skipping your deadline.
You also need to plan how you will support yourself during the months when you fail to have steady cash flow. Prepare for bumps in the road.
Knowing how to ensure lasting financial security is an essential part of having a career as a freelancer.
4. Do I have the entrepreneurial skills required for writing on a self-employed basis?
If you want to use the art of writing to make a living, you must treat it as a business. This requires applying various entrepreneurial skills, such as business management, time management, problem-solving and negotiation.
Are you prepared to market yourself as a writer? Do you know how to promote your work according to the demands of the publishing industry? Can you employ negotiation strategies that can get you the desired writing rate?
Are you ready to manage and file tax reports?
Sharpening these skills is essential for promoting business growth and competitiveness.
5. How will I grow my social network?
One of the advantages of having a day job is the daily communication with co-workers. This human interaction can help you stay young and alert.
What is your plan for keeping loneliness at bay? Joining writers’ guilds or groups of writers is a good way to receive support from like-minded people.
Every country has such unions. You can browse the following site to find your country: http://www.author-network.com/org.html. For instance, some helpful UK links are:
- http://www.mediauk.com/ – jobs, news and discussions
- www.womeninjournalism.co.uk/ – Women in Journalism
- http://www.bgtw.org/ – The British Guild of Travel Writers (provides support and membership to professional travel writers).
What about face-to-face communication?
Firstly, remember to fit in meetings with family and friends into your weekly schedule.
Secondly, platforms, such as MeetUp and InterNations, have subgroups based on interest and offer both live and online events.
Also, there are some LinkedIn and Facebook groups that not only let you network with fellow writers, but also provide group event (physical) meetups.
You will need companionship to boost your morale and productivity as an independent writer.
6. Do I have enough perseverance?
Every successful career requires time and effort to build. It may even take years to grow a writing business. Are you ready for the ups and downs? Are you in it for the long haul?
Your answers to these six questions can help you decide whether you should turn writing into your only paying job.
About the Author
Veselina Yaneva is a freelance journalist with a Master’s degree in English literature from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. Her interest in writing inspired her to embark on the Freelance Journalism for Magazines and Webzines Course at the UK Writers College. After completing this course with distinction, she’s been relishing the opportunity to immerse herself in the inspiring world of website publication as a journalism intern at the Writers College Times. Veselina’s education, voracious appetite for travel and genuine love for reading, bring a range of perspectives and ideas to her work.
You can connect with Veselina via: www.linkedin.com/in/veselina-yaneva-83213b210