So You Think You Want To Be Self-Employed?


I think a lot of folks might romanticize being self-employed. When the magazine I worked at folded and my position disappeared like vapor into the wind, I was faced with a choice: return to form or take a chance. I have been a writer since my late teens, publishing more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles in print and online. I had my wall of rejections, my inbox full of “thank you, but we’ll pass” emails that are often the signal-flare of writers who have quit the world over.

The point being: I am used to long odds.

Being a consultant is fantastic, though it is a bit esoteric to explain at dinner parties. I want to assume my best Benedict Cumberbatch impression and say, “I am a consulting writer.” Perhaps brevity is best replaced with irritation dripping with sarcasm.

The thing about being responsible for everything is that you are responsible for everything. No one takes out the appropriate taxes, no one offers you insurance of any kind, and there are no guaranteed paydays. You must take the reins of these endeavors and excel or perish more quickly than you might imagine. There is this frightening moment that happens every so often when your whiteboard full of paying projects diminishes to just one project and your heart starts to thud in your chest.

Will you make it?

Will you get another client?

Feast or famine is offset by intelligent saving habits and smaller, micro gigs that offset your day-to-day expenses. However, this does not stem the overwhelming dread that accompanies an uncertain future that was before filled with a mediocre bi-monthly paycheck that guaranteed indentured servitude to your local supermarket.

Would I change it? Absolutely not.

Part of being in league with yourself is you get to decide how you subsidize costs. Maybe I will take a part-time job to make sure I can cover the electricity bill or groceries. I can do this without compromising the integrity of the mission, as it does still pay the bills when called upon.

Adaptability and creativity are the name of the game.

And on that note: I best get looking for some new clients.

Dan O’Brien wrote more than a dozen novels (all before the age of 30), including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. He currently teaches psychology at CSU, Chico. You can learn more about Amalgam by visiting his website at: