Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Emotional blip

Work has been manic these past six months - I don't think I've had such a consistent run in years where every single month hits a certain target. I know why it is - I responded to the closure of PC Answers nearly two years ago by spreading myself wider, and now have the relative security of juggling 10+ clients on a varying degrees of regularity. My portfolio is also a little more diverse, with my reliance on PC/Windows magazines reduced to just two titles, and my fingers in pies covering Macs, technology and family history. I also do far more work online, which includes working for corporate clients. All in all, it feels a relatively healthy mix at present, with everyone chipping in as opposed to relying on a single source for half my income.

It's set to be manic this month too, with guaranteed work already taking me past that certain target. And yet today I feel a little vulnerable and down. I know why - yesterday, another PC magazine announced its closure. I'd never worked for it, but had idly considered making a pitch once or twice in the past. But it reminded me of how volatile and uncertain this business I'm in is, however many steps I've taken to try and reduce the risk.

And then today one of my clients has emailed me out of the blue with an updated contract to sign. I'm not sure yet whether it's a mistake on someone's part, another cheeky attempt to get me to sign over more (or, in this case, all) rights to the company in question, or a final demand as it were. I've long resisted the move to sign over all copyright to my work to someone else - I have done so with other clients, but they pay much better rates, which to my mind makes it feel like we've done some kind of trade: I get better paid, they get all the rights. This client won't be offering me a pay rise.

In practical terms it means nothing - I have in the past uploaded old articles to the Support PCs website, but there's little practical value in doing so. Despite this, the idea that I could - should circumstances dictate - try to sell on my work again in some form, perhaps as a self-published ebook, has always provided me with a crumb of comfort. Selling the rights to the stuff I've written would obviously change that. It wouldn't stop me doing it, but instead of simply tweaking copy I'd already written, I'd have to rewrite it completely from scratch.

The freelance world I inhabit these days is much changed from when I started out 10 years ago, as is the magazine business itself. I'd like to think I've proved I can adapt to changing conditions - I no longer write for any of the titles (largely because most of them have closed) I wrote for when I launched my freelance career - but it's still a reminder of how vulnerable this business can be. And it doesn't matter how big your savings pot, you can't completely insulate yourself from the fear.

Still, just writing all of the above down helps - I don't feel quite as bad as I did five minutes ago when I started this post. Cool, as you were, Peers!

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