Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Unsettling times

How quickly times change. After the good year I enjoyed in 2012, 2013 has already proved more challenging than normal. Freelance writing has always been a case of feast and famine, but after an incredibly stable year financially speaking, the first four months of 2013 look to have returned to the old cycle. In fact, things could have been much worse in February and March were it not for one very large (and welcome) commission.

The major problem is that a number of my clients have become, shall we say, uncertain. One has had a change of ownership, with wholesale changes from top to bottom. Things are settling down now, and there is an opportunity to pitch for work, but there are no guarantees and it's been two months since my last commission was handed in - one that was given to me before the upheaval was announced.

A second has a new editor. I've fired over loads of pitches - far more than I've done before, but despite some positive murmurings, no commissions have been forthcoming. It's frustrating, because after two years establishing myself on the magazine, I was getting commissions offered to me as well as pitching my own. It wasn't a guarantee of work every month, but it came around regularly enough to be considered one of my more reliable clients. And now, poof! No work since November.

A third has completely dried up to the point that when I did pitch a review for a section I'd previously had an ongoing commission for, the editor claimed to have already sourced the product in question for review internally. It still hasn't appeared on the site, two months later, but I know better than to think that door remains open.

There have been new opportunities - work has picked up a little with some clients, I've added a couple of new titles to my roster, but without that big chunk of work in February/March I'd have had four bad months on the trot, and I'm noticing that the days of large single features are rapidly vanishing, which means I have to find twice as much work just to stand still.

May at least looks like things are starting to properly pick up, but it's all been very unsettling. I last had this kind of wobble when PC Answers closed, and thought that by spreading my eggs around more baskets I'd insulate myself from this kind of setback. But when two or three start wobbling at once, I guess it was understandable I'd end up going through this. I can but hope the worst is behind me.

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