Spill It: What’s Your Next Move?

I’ve never been one to make a fuss out of New Year’s Eve, or to saddle myself with once-a-year resolutions. I reevaluate my goals almost every month, allowing each day to be a new beginning.

Still, after the overeating and undersleeping that is the holidays, I admit I feel especially compelled to ask myself: What’s next?

Otherwise, gravity and lack of inertia might keep me from ever resuming work again.

I feel especially dazed and bloated today. Last week, I baked seven pound cakes and six varieties of Christmas cookies. I chopped and pureed six cauliflowers and trimmed and roasted six pounds of Brussels sprouts to bring to Christmas dinner (an affair that lasted 8.5, long hours). Then, the day after Christmas, I hosted a dinner party at my condo. Because — apparently — I wasn’t yet tired of cooking and stuffing my face.

For the love of god, I need something new and exciting to pull me back into my work. So what’ll it be?

1. I received Sambuchino’s 2012 Guide to Literary Agents for Christmas, so I’m going to read through it and start my third wave of queries for my book proposal.

2. I’ve finished putting together a freebie I think you’ll really enjoy. I just need to find someone to make it pretty for me before it makes its grand debut. Anyone want to talk design and layout rates with me?

3. 2011 was filled with big projects from regular clients and, as a result, querying fell by the wayside. I’d like to make a big return to querying new markets, just to keep my mix of projects and assignments interesting.

4. This year, I’m going to push myself in new ways, even if it makes me want to projectile vomit. To that end, I’m going to start pulling together my panelist presentation for April’s ASJA conference, and also put together a proposal for another conference I’d like in on in May.

5. I know. I should be thinking about Word Nerd Networking. And I have chatted with several people about organizing a digital publishing panel, and a yoga + journaling workshop. But what I’ve really been daydreaming about is putting together a yoga and writing retreat. The place I went to the other month is open to proposals for new retreats. So I’m going to start chatting with other retreat organizers and taking a close look at other retreat agenda’s in an effort to design The Most Perfect Retreat Ever. Suggestions are welcome.

So what’s next for you?

Related: Career Stalled? What You’re Doing Wrong, Pinpointing Dream Job #328, Making Goals Manageable in the New Year

A Holiday Recipe for Freelance Success

I've opted not to show you the flour- and batter-spattered countertops.

It’s five days until Christmas, and Holiday Brain has reached a fever pitch.

Yesterday, I baked two Nutella Swirl Pound Cakes while my Christmas mix played and the tree lights twinkled. It was so effing cozy and festively charming that my brain almost imploded. This morning, I baked a lemon pound cake and, tonight, I’ll be doing up five varieties of holiday cookies with my mom and brother.

I still have two more pound cakes to go.

I’ve also spent the past three weekends driving around with my husband and looking at holiday light displays whilst sipping eggnog lattes and mint hot chocolate. And doing up ridiculous holiday e-cards that heavily feature my cats being forced to wear holiday outfits. And planning holiday dinner parties and party parties.

Clearly, my mind is on one thing, and one thing only.*

Don’t worry. I won’t hold out on you. Here. Let me share one of my favorite holiday recipes:

Freelance Success:

- 3 oz. passion for an industry, profession, or talent you happen to have

- 1/4 lb. willingness to educate yourself on the aforementioned passion

- 1 c. bravery; you’ll need it to go full-time freelance

- 1.5 c. willingness to network your damn ass off, and maintain those connections you make

- 2 tbsp. innovation and creativity

- 2 tsp. knowledge that you can’t just create; you have to sell yourself, too

- 1 c. self-discipline

Mix all of these ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for five or so years. Hint: The flavor changes the longer you let it bake. Just take care not to burn yourself out.

If you need some help in the kitchen, there are 11 days left for you to purchase my special holiday coaching package: One Hour to a Word Nerd Action Plan.

If you’d prefer the recipe to either the Nutella Swirl or lemon pound cakes, feel free to contact me. :)

Good luck and happy holidays!

*Though for some reason, I still haven’t wrapped a single one of my presents.

Related: Happy Holidays! From Me to You, the Gift of Gluttony, How to Keep Up the Momentum During the Holidays

Want To Build Your Business? Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The other week, I wrote a post about how choosing the more difficult path can lead to both personal and career growth. After all, if you’re not challenged by the work you’re doing — if you’re not learning — how can you possibly move forward?

Oftentimes, that difficult path involves merely putting on pants, or ignoring the evil siren song of your DVR queue. But sometimes, the more difficult path involves doing something you’re bat-shit petrified of.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should “do one thing every day that scares you.” As a self-hating wuss, this appeals to me.

And as I read Noelle Hancock’s memoir, My Year with Eleanor (in which she tries to do one scary thing a day, for a year), I can’t help but think that in order to go bigger and better in 2012, I need to be challenging my wuss-tastic self even more.

I mean… my most satisfying accomplishments of the past year were also completely terrifying. Doing a reading during Lit Crawl NYC. Joining a yoga studio. Going on a yoga retreat all by my lonesome. Co-hosting a large-scale speed networking event. How can I push myself even further in 2012? How can you?

I’ve already agreed to be a panelist at the ASJA conference this coming spring (Writing About Sex, Saturday, April 28, 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m., Roosevelt Hotel, NYC). Instead of reading a previously-published essay word-for-word off of a piece of paper (which was terrifying in itself, even though I was drunk), I have to prepare a 10-minute presentation, which I will then deliver to a room full of established writers. While sober.

All of my fellow panelists are published authors. I am only a co-author. Of an ebook. And I hate public speaking. I’m going to die. (Of shame, and of blunt force trauma to the head when I pass out and fall.)

But if I don’t die, I may gain some welcome visibility from both editors and potential coaching clients. And the appearance will also strengthen the sex writing platform I’m building up as I query lit agents with my book proposal.

What other scary things could I try in 2012?

  • raising my rates
  • becoming a yoga teacher trainee
  • getting my shit together and throwing some new Word Nerd Networking events
  • querying outside of my niche
  • auditioning for a secular choir or a cappella singing group
  • attending more industry events (sans Xanax)
What’s one scary thing you’d like to try in the coming year in order to build your freelance business?

Related: How Choosing the More Difficult Path Leads to Awesomeness (and a Cuter Butt), How to Build Your Network Without Having a Panic Attack, The 5 Most Common Problems Freelance Writers Face, Why It Took Me Four Years to Become a Freelance Hard-Ass

How Choosing the More Difficult Path Leads to Awesomeness (and a Cuter Butt)

The other day, I was the only student to show up for lunchtime yoga. “You have three options,” my instructor told me. “A. We can do a restorative yoga class. B. I can kick your ass with a really intense class. C. We can blow this joint and go out for drinks.”

I stood there, waffling between all three. An hour of restorative yoga would pretty much be an easy-peasy, introspective afternoon nap. Going out for drinks would be fun. And I’d been wanting to pick my instructor’s brain about his experiences within the teacher training program.

In the end, though, I chose option B. I felt I needed it, especially after my rough day at the lab, trying unsuccessfully to get blood drawn so I could take the next step in trying to get pregnant. That and I’d been feeling a little fat. So we got down on our mats and we sweated it out.

I was so happy with my choice. My instructor read aloud a great passage from Life Is a Verb, and then we worked our way through a full vinyasa practice. Because I was the only student there, my instructor was able to give me adjustments on every pose, pushing me harder and deepening my practice. We also worked on inversions I had been struggling with. And I still got my chance to grill him about teacher training. When I left the studio, I was feeling simultaneously relaxed and revitalized. I was ready to make the tough choices on my to-do list next.

I feel as if freelancers crave the tougher path.

Yeah, yeah. I roll out of bed at 8:30, at which point I only have to commute from my bedroom to my dining room. I don’t have to wear a bra — or pants — if I don’t want to. I get to hang out with my cats all day. My schedule is flexible enough to allow for a shit-ton of yoga classes throughout the week. I’m my own boss.

But I’m also the toughest, most critical boss I know. I can’t count on regular income. I’ve had to force myself to diversify — with ghostwriting, editing, coaching, funeral singing, etc. — to more easily pay the bills. I’ve had to fight my introversion and social anxiety in order to build my network. I’ve also had to learn self-discipline and self-motivation, and take on the roles of marketer, accountant, administrator, and more.

And every day, I’ve had to consciously choose to sit down at the computer and fill the blank screen, instead of watching the latest What Not To Wear marathon or baking apple crumble and lemon pound cake.

That’s a hard decision to make, yo.

And I know you make the same choices, too. It’s scary to leave a seemingly stable job and a regular paycheck in order to make it on your own. It’s scary to put yourself out there. It’s scary to ask for what you’re worth and to stand firm with problem clients and to try new things. It’s definitely far from easy.

And it can be tough to make the tough choices from day to day.

But it’s worth it. Because of the pantslessness and the bralessness and the kitty cat slumber parties, yes, but also because it challenges us. It pushes us to be more… to be better. Making the tough choices ensures that we continue growing, both as people and in our career.

It’s tough to remember the benefits sometimes.

But right now, my booty and my thighs are still sore from Tuesday’s private class and — man oh man — if I keep it up, my mood will keep improving, and I’ll look hotter in skinny jeans.

And for the same reason, I’ll skip the Netflix this afternoon and work on those projects I have on my plate.

What tough decisions do you have to make today?

Related: Are You Being Challenged By Your Career?, News Flash: Both Marriage and Freelancing Are Hard, Reevaluating Your Life

Why It’s Totally Cool If My Kids Skip College

I have a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, despite myself.

I mean, there was never a question I would go to college. After all, it never occurred to me that any other path was available.

But I started out studying journalism at the College of New Jersey. I became disenchanted and discouraged by my choice of major. I fell into a depression after both the death of my grandmother and the end of an abusive relationship. I dropped out of college with the certainty that I didn’t need it to be a writer.

Which was true, but I wasn’t sure how to go about making money. I ended up in a crappy retail job, at which I lasted for two months. Is this all I’m capable of without a degree? I asked myself, horrified. It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that. I ended up at Emerson.

After graduating, I was lucky enough to get a job within two months (though not in my field). I was miserable there, and felt relief when I was laid off after six months. A year later, I had my feet planted firmly within the publishing industry. Finally. I was content… for awhile. But I soon realized I had no interest in working my way up the corporate ladder. I wanted to create. I wanted to be my own boss.

And so I made my circuitous way to the here and now, where I’m a happy, and pretty well-balanced, business owner. I’m lucky enough to be one of the few people out there who has ended up making money in the field they studied in college. But I could have gotten here quicker. I could have gotten here without incurring debt. I just didn’t know.

Last weekend, I toted my copy of Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires to my yoga/cooking retreat up in VT, where I devoured it during the free time I had between yoga and cooking classes. As I read, I found myself giving a silent hells yeah as Ellsberg gave voice to something I had always felt when it comes to academia.

“Despite sixteen years or more of schooling,” he writes, “most of what you’ll need to learn to be successful you’ll have to learn on your own, outside of school, whether you go to college or not.” He goes on to describe a scene that’s decidedly familiar these days:

“We now live in an age when it is likely that the person pouring you your coffee at the cafe in the morning has spent four years studying literature, or even business and marketing, in a degree-granting institution. That person is likely to be carrying tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, and more in credit card debt accrued in college, for the privilege of having studied to pour you your coffee with such literary and business acumen.”

I thought of my time on unemployment. A full year. I thought of how humiliated I had been to stoop to temp work, handing out food samples at donut shops and supermarkets. I thought of how my life might have been different if I’d aimed for entrepreneurship rather than employment. But the possibility had never occurred to me. That only came later.

Ellsberg goes on to advocate self-education over academia — a pursuit I’ve come to advocate heavily in the past five or so years –providing readers with a resource-heavy curriculum in the areas of networking, marketing, sales, and entrepreneurship. At the end, he describes the “education bubble,” exploring further why a single-minded reliance on academia may cause the bubble to eventually burst.

At the end, I’m both inspired and introspective. I feel validated. I think to myself: College and the corporate ladder aren’t the only options. and my future children will know that, and will be supported in whichever path they choose.

I enjoyed my time at Emerson. I developed as a person, and met people there who are still incredibly important to me.

But did college hold me back? Would I be even more successful now if I’d gotten an earlier start on the entrepreneurial path?

I’ve learned more in the past five years than I ever learned in the previous 26. This much is true.

What will you tell your children?

Related: Forget Grad School. Is Your B.A. Worth It?, Coffee Break: Home Ec for Entrepreneurs, Passive/Aggressive: Finding Work as a Freelancer

Are You a Typical Freelancer?

When Thursday Bram approached me with the idea of a post exploring the idea of the “typical” freelancer, I was intrigued. I’m of the mind that there’s no such thing as “typical,” that the best freelancers carve out their own, unique path, and that a successful freelance career can look different to every freelancer. But as Thursday points out, beginning freelancers often want to know the right way to do things. They’re desperate for answers. So what does the typical freelance path look like? Thursday — a full-time freelancer and the co-founder of  Enhanced Freelance, a membership site for freelancers ready to up their game — has your answers.

“So, are you a typical freelancer?”

The question honestly threw me. It came from a woman who was considering becoming a freelancer herself, who was trying to figure out what she needed to make the leap.

I told her no, explaining that I started freelancing in high school, continued (along with some odd jobs) through college and went full-time right after graduation. I didn’t know a lot of freelancers who hadn’t had a solid nine-to-five for quite a while.

But the question got me thinking. What’s the typical career path of a freelancer? Is there a right way to do things that guarantee that, when you’re ready to strike out on your own, you get it right?

There’s a lot of standard advice that seems to point to a “right” way to freelance: You’re supposed to take a decent enough job that will let you get established and earn some money. You’re supposed to start taking on freelance work on the side, building up a killer portfolio and a client list that keeps you busy every single hour you’re not in the office, along with a nice fat savings account. And then, when you’re about to collapse from the workload, you’re supposed to quit your day job — probably negotiating to keep your ex-employer as a client — and freelance full-time.

The problem is that while I know a handful of freelancers who followed that route, they’re something of a rarity. It’s definitely not what I did. It’s not the path taken by anyone who decides to freelance so they can stay home with the kids. It’s not what happens to someone who gets fired and starts freelancing so there’s still money coming in. And, it’s really not what happens to anyone who gets fed up and tells the boss where to stick it on the way out the door.

Once you’ve gotten started, the question of where your freelance career can take you gets complex. For many of us, the goal is first and foremost to build up a list of clients that pay us a lot of money — but just how much is a lot can vary. There are freelancers who make six figures a year just from client work. That route requires choosing high-paying clients and work. But because most of us bump into the fact that there are literally only so many hours in the day that we can work, there are a lot of other paths that freelancers take:

  •  Teaming up with other freelancers to create an agency
  • Subcontracting out work and building a team of your own
  • Creating products that answer some of your clients’ questions
  • Building products based on your expertise in other areas

The different routes a freelancer can take are endless. The only one that I would recommend against is not moving forward at all. It can take some trial and error to find the right approach to freelancing for your personal interests and priorities, but the alternative is just picking up work as you come across it. That approach can make you money but it can also let you stagnate. Don’t be the freelancer who doesn’t make a change in her career for years at a time.

Related: Wanted: The Career Equivalent of an Open Marriage

How to Start from Scratch with a New Niche

This is a metaphorical lump of dough.

Like any good love affair, even a thriving writing career can get into a slump. And by “slump,” I’m not referring to the lean times in your typical feast-or-famine cycle. I’m referring to a successful business that — for some reason or another — you just feel bored with.

You know the feeling: Every targeted press release seems to say the same thing. Every forthcoming book you’re offered for review seems to have the same premise. And when your favorite sex toy purveyor offers you the latest and greatest vibrator with all the bells and whistles, you just feel meh.

While your niche may once have been a passion (and perhaps still is), it doesn’t seem to leave room for all the new interests in your life.

But is it worth it to switch gears? Will food editors be interested in a piece from a veteran health and wellness writer? Will tech editors care what the go-to sex columnist has to say?

I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. Way back when, after stumbling upon an internship creating adult content for a personals site, I threw myself into the sex content niche for very personal reasons. I was interested in exploring sex positivity within the contexts of feminism, sexual dysfunction, and past abuse.

These days, I’m cool with the sex writing, but it’s not all I am. I also sing funeral masses. I love hoop dancing. I’m addicted to yoga. I’m a disaster in the kitchen, but I love cooking, too. I go wine tasting with my husband. And I’m a crazy cat lady.

Gee whiz. It sure would be fun to write about those things, too.

And I can but, in order to succeed, I need to take a lesson from those days when I was just starting out. Luckily, while I may — for the most part — be starting from scratch, I still have one of those pre-made crusts to work with. (Too much? Too corny? To hell with it.)

Step One — Research New Markets:

As has become pretty apparent here lately, I have a new hobby. It involves doing headstands and acquiring a hot ass. I’m also into dance-based workouts like belly dancing and hoop dancing, have been doing callanetics for 12 years, walk wherever I can, read books like French Women Don’t Get Fat and The Flex Diet, and enjoy cooking things from scratch. So why the hell does my writing only focus on sexual health?

Wanting to rectify that, I recently took a field trip to Barnes & Noble and picked up copies of Om Yoga & Lifestyle, Yoga Journal, Women’s Health, Fitness, and Whole Living. I flipped through the magazines, bookmarking the masthead, making note of the story layouts, and familiarizing myself with the various magazine sections. I asked myself: What story could I write to fit this publication?

If you’re considering a new market, you should do the same. Visit your local bookshop and browse the magazine racks. Check out mediabistro’s How To Pitch series, which allows you to search publications by category. Search sites like Alltop by subject matter, or scour the blog rolls on popular blogs. And of course, there’s always the good old Writer’s Market.

Step Two — Expand Your Network:

You have 1,981 followers on Twitter. The entire Internet knows about your experience with the Sexerciseball. At this point, all the “how to boost your libido” blog posts and mythology-based erotica essays are coming to you. But you know what’s not coming to you? Anything that’s not about your vagina. Obviously, you need to expand your circle in new directions.

Use sites like LinkedIn or Twitter to find contact info for the editors at your new dream magazines. (And while the mediabistro How To Pitch articles may not be up to date in terms of contact info, you can always use them to snag a magazine’s email format and then pop in the latest names on the magazine’s masthead.) Send these editors LOIs (letters of interest), or ask them if they’d be up for an informal chat about their experiences within a niche. Tell them you’d love to hear more about what they’re looking for. (I’ve landed many lunch invites this way.)

Or connect with other freelance writers who are active in a subject area you’d like to expand into. Having a strong freelance network is key for swapping tips, clips, stories, advice, and sometimes even important contacts. I never would have written about my cats for Petside, for example, without a tip from a fellow freelancer writer. The site just wasn’t on my radar.

Finally, attend networking or industry-specific events. As a sex writer, I’ve attended my share of dating blogger happy hours and dating site parties. Do your homework and see if the writers in your new niche are doing something similar. Or attend those professional conferences in order to make valuable industry contacts or gain inspiration for future stories. For example, if you’re looking to break into Psychology Today, check out Psychotherapy Networker to see what’s what in the world of the mind.

Step Three — Start Small:

Despite being a total sexpert, I once wrote the Ultimate New Jersey Wine Tour for a regional magazine based upon the strength of my pitch alone. And I’ve written a roundup on fitness classes that make you laugh for a newer, regional magazine. While it helped that my query letters were kick-ass (more on that in the next step), the fact that I was aiming for regional — rather than national — markets was probably also a factor. Oftentimes, the smaller publications are far more willing to take a chance on new writers.

So if you’re having a hard time getting in the door at the major glossies, pretend you’re building up your portfolio all over again and aim a bit lower.

Step Four — Wow Them With Your Letter:

I’ve raved about the importance of a strong letter in the past. And I’ll do it again. When you’re lacking clips in a certain niche, a strong query letter can showcase your writing ability, spotlight a brilliant idea, and act as proof that — despite the skimpy portfolio — you’re the best writer for the job, whether because of expert contacts, personal experience, or certified expertise.

Step Five — Don’t Discount Your Prior Experience:

This is where that pre-made crust comes in. (And I always cheat by using the pre-made crust though, in this case, I think you’ve earned it.)  Basically, even though you’re a newbie to the niche, you still have a leg up by being an established, professional writer. What does this mean? It means that you have a proven track record of producing  brilliant content under deadline. It means you know your way around an expert interview, and rock the house at research. It means you have an already-existing readership. It means that you’re worth those professional rates.

So please. For the love of god. Don’t shortchange yourself. Realize that if you did it before, you can do it again.

And p.s. Don’t be a wuss. Always negotiate for higher rates. You’re worth it.

Related: 10 Ways To Prove Experience… Without Any, Cornering the Market? Or Feeling Cornered?, Need New Material? Try Living Your Life

Inch By Inch: How Small Steps Lead To Big Success

Earlier this week, I joined a yoga studio just two minutes from my condo, and started trying out different classes. I had been using Shiva Rea and Rodney Yee DVDs at home, but I wanted to mix things up, and I wanted someone who could tell me when my elbows were pointed in the wrong direction, and who could correct my stance. I wanted someone who could adjust my pose the one iota it needed to be perfect. I wanted to achieve yoga success.

Yesterday afternoon, the instructor had us do headstands. When I admitted I hadn’t done one since I was a toddler, he rubbed his hands together with glee and had me move my yoga mat up against the wall. Then, he walked me through the setup for the position and watched as I struggled to get my legs up above my head.

“Just one more inch,” he said as I flailed about. After a few moments, I let out a surprised “Oh!” as my feet touched the wall.

I left the class feeling exhilarated by how easy it had been to do that headstand. How close I was without even knowing it.

When I got home, there was more good news in my inbox. Thanks to a quick email nudge I’d sent the week before, a lit agent that a client of mine had introduced me to via email wanted to set up a time to chat about my book proposal.

I don’t know what will come of that chat, but I feel similar to how I felt when I was attempting that headstand: So close… close enough for my feet to touch the wall.

Sometimes, people look at my business and feel frustrated that they’re not where I’m at in my writing career. The thing is, it took me over 10 years to get here, and I’m still not even where I want to be. I’m still moving forward. Inch by inch.

It took a lot of self-help books to get here. A lot of continuing education classes and post-college internships, and a lot of query letters. It took a lot of online and in-person networking and a lot of informational interviews. It took full-time and permalance jobs… small and large assignments.

It took a heckuva lot of one-sentence followup emails.

Every year, I look back and am proud of the things I’ve accomplished. But then I look forward and see how close I am to achieving the next big thing. I agonize over a query letter. I send another followup email. I attend an event. I move forward an inch.

For the longest time, I felt I wasn’t going anywhere. It felt as if my wheels were spinning. Today, I turned 31. I can see my progress. I’m excited for what’s next.

How many small steps have you taken this week to move forward that next inch?

What have you already accomplished?

What are you most proud of?

Related: News Flash: Both Marriage and Freelancing Are Hard, Nothing To Do with Luck, Bring in New Projects Without Lifting a Finger

Do You Write for the Bucks or the Byline? How I Started Ghostwriting

There was a time when seeing my name in the newspaper, or in a glossy magazine, was enough to make me squee.

I hated assignments that didn’t offer author credit, and generally avoided them. What’s in it for me? I thought, not even considering the possibility that a paycheck could be enough.

In fact, when I first began writing about sex and my editor brought up pen names, I shrugged off his suggestion. I wanted the credit, no matter how kinky the content.

(Which is why my Playgirl debut was particularly thrilling. They ran a cartoonified head shot of me next to my article… and directly below a drawing of what appeared to be an orgy. My mom made copies and handed them out to friends.)

So how did I end up ghostwriting ebooks and blog posts?

I’ve been working on a big ghostwriting project for the past month and, since I started, some people have asked me for advice on how to get into ghostwriting. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t seek out ghostwriting opportunities, and never even considered it an option for me. I mean, I was absolutely traumatized when I found out that Carolyn Keene was actually a collective of ghostwriters (Nancy Drew, you broke my heart). And I thought that getting the credit for something you didn’t write was totally cheating, and that the ghostwriter was only an accessory to the crime.

But since I started ghostwriting, I’ve come to two realizations:

1. I may have the writing talent but, sometimes, someone else has the fabulous idea and the background knowledge and experience. Putting the two of us together? Writing gold.

2. This ghostwriting stuff pays way better than the other stuff I’ve been doing.

I don’t know if I’ll seek out more work like this. This client came to me because he liked my style and wanted to work together. But if you’d like to take a more proactive approach to ghostwriting, there are some fabulous posts out there that can help you, like:

Stay tuned for a post on how to rock the ghostwriting process. But in the meantime… do you make money as a ghostwriter? If not, would it break your heart to give up your byline?

Related: Having Trouble Defining Your Specialty? How To Determine What Makes You an Original, How To Avoid Homelessness and Starvation When the Checks Aren’t Regular, Pinpointing Dream Job #328

News Flash: Both Marriage And Freelancing Are Hard

Because everything is more attractive in black + white...

Four years ago today, Michael and I promised each other our undying love and devotion*. We said “I do,” danced the night away, and rode off into the sunset. [Okay. We passed out in our hotel suite, but same difference.]

Within a month, I also went full-time freelance. Michael added me to his health insurance plan, and I set about trying to see if I could make it as a writer or something.

Since then, both our marriage and our careers have had their major ups and downs. Michael went from feeling stuck in a direct mail copywriting job to excelling in the start-up web development world. I lost a permalance gig at the start of the recession, and struggled for a year to regain my footing before learning the power of diversification. We tried unsuccessfully to sell our condo. We tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child. And in the midst of all this, we lost sight of each other.

In fact, I recently wrote a piece for YourTango on how Michael and I almost separated.

The truth of the matter is, neither Michael nor I are the same people we were four years ago. And neither are our careers.

And at first that worried us.

But it doesn’t anymore.

Because we learned that, as we changed, so did our love. And even though our love was different now, it was still strong. Neither of us could live without the other, and that was the most important thing. Once we realized that, we felt a renewed commitment to working hard at our marriage.

And the same holds true for my freelance career. I started out wanting some very specific things. But as I changed, so did my goals. And at first, I was worried that turning my back on one dream was tantamount to admitting defeat. But when I took a good, hard look at that dream, I realized I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted whatever it was that my career was turning into.

And it changes every day.

How have you changed since you first started freelancing? How has your business changed?

*Michael also promised to bring me cats in bed whenever I was sad. I can happily report that he has upheld this promise.