Freelance Friday: Finances & Fears

Freelance Friday is my monthly feature where I answer questions about my life as a freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and scribe-about-town. You can send in questions via email or in the comments!

Q. Is it necessary to have a dayjob as well?

A. I have one part-time dayjob at the moment: I work 8-10 hours a week writing tweets for an adult-industry marketing firm. (I had an additional part-time dayjob until recently, but am no longer working at ye olde sex shoppe – which, frankly, hallelujah, because retail is hard and really not well-suited to how my brain works.)

I make enough money from my more creative work that it isn’t necessary for me to have a dayjob – particularly since, if I didn’t have one, I’d have more time and energy for pitching, writing, and hustlin’ – but I still value my dayjob very much and would encourage writers and other freelance-y types to keep theirs or get one, for a few reasons.

First off: obviously having more money is better. My blogging and freelancing could cover my basic living expenses, but then I’d have very little extra cash for things like meals out, theatre tickets, travel, and gifts for friends – all of which are important to me. I don’t mind working harder to keep my lifestyle at a level where I’m happy with it and don’t feel deprived of anything vital.

Secondly, my dayjob acts as a safety net. Freelancing and blogging, as you may know, can be pretty feast-or-famine endeavors. There are months when I get a few fat freelance cheques and sell a handful of sponsored posts, and there are other months where my email inbox and bank account both remain comparatively barren. My dayjob offers me a flat, dependable monthly income, so that even if I earn absolutely no money elsewhere (which happens rarely but does happen), I will neither starve nor be kicked out of my apartment.

Finally, my dayjob gives me a peace of mind that is honestly crucial to my creativity. When I’m hard-up for cash, I tend to focus on crafting work I think will sell, rather than on what I genuinely want to write, which is more often the quirky, offbeat, original stuff that my readers like better anyway. If not for my dayjob, I’d feel paralyzed by the constant need to earn and earn and earn, and would have no spare energy or space for idle imagination. When the problem of money is more-or-less sorted, there’s more room to play. I am enormously privileged to be in a position where this is true for me.

Even if my career blew up tomorrow and I was suddenly making as much money from blogging and freelancing as I had previously been making in total, I think I would probably keep my dayjob. The security and freedom it gives me is a daily blessing. Plus, writin’ tweets is pretty fun sometimes.

Q. Did you have any fears when you were starting out, or even now that you’re established?

A. For a long time, I feared associating my real-life name and face with my sex blog identity. I worried future potential employers would find out I was a Sex Person and would bar me from their business, thereby denying me employment, money, and security. It was a scary thought, that some irresponsible internet dalliances in my youth could cost me financial stability way into my future.

But the farther I traveled into Sex Writing Land, the more I came to realize that a) making sex-related media is probably the big-picture destiny of my life, b) I can absolutely make a living doing this work (and even moreso if I attach my name and face to it), and c) anyone who would forgo hiring me because of my sex writing background is not someone I would want to work for anyway.

(Worth noting here: being able to be “out” about my identity is a privilege of my financial situation, social standing, geographic location, educational background, and other life circumstances – one that not everyone is afforded, nor should everyone who can be out about their work have to be. It was a personal choice I made for myself and I support folks in this industry who are both out of the closet and in it.)

I also feared I didn’t have anything real or important to say. This was especially true back when I started my blog, because I was in a steady, monogamous, sexually satisfying but unadventurous relationship with the first and only man I’d ever had sex with. I was vanilla back then (or at least, I thought I was), and had hardly any sexual experience to speak of, and feared that would hold me back as a sex writer. That became even more true when that relationship ended in 2014 and I went over a year without dating or having any sex at all.

What I learned about myself, during those monotonous periods, was that I still have eleventy-zillion thoughts and ideas and fantasies and hopes and dreams about sex even when I’m not having sex, or having boring sex. I don’t think someone’s sex life is necessarily a predictor of what kind of sex writer they can be. It’s more about how they approach the topic, the media they consume (or don’t consume) around it, their ideas and beliefs about sex, their kinks and fantasies, the things they allow themselves to want and the things they’re trying not to want.

I still don’t exactly know “what kind of sex writer I am,” what my “niche” is, what people look to me for. But I know that I’ve found my voice and my purpose by pursuing what organically fascinates me. Imitating writers you admire can only take you so far; at some point, you have to follow your heart and all its weird curiosities. It’s there that you’ll find the truest and most original core of what you can do.