Tuesday: I wake up at 9:12 a.m., watch my crappy laptop delay its initial start-up for an extra five minutes – you know the shelf-life of your laptop these days is essentially five to seven years, so you start dreading all of those slow start-ups and freezes because, in the back of your mind, you know it’s going to have to be replaced in the next 18 months with money you’re magically hoping appears between now and then – and then hop on Twitter immediately.
Wednesday: I wake up at 12:37 p.m. and groggily stretch and yawn in bed while I begrudgingly convince myself that I can still technically stay in bed for another hour and 23 minutes. Then I choose not to and struggle out of my bed. I feel like a bum, but then I realize that the 10-minute walk to Dunkin Donuts to fill my conspicuous iced-latte order to my good friend behind the counter is probably the best way to make up for the start of the day I already kind of screwed up.
Thursday… Well, you get the idea at this point.
They told me my degree was going to be worth something. The main problem is: nobody gave me a definitive answer of when my degree was officially going to start to mean something despite me knowing already that it is actually worth something. Oh, don’t get me wrong; being a freelance “journalist,” scheduling your own hours and editorial schedule and being able to write on demand, based on what breaks on Twitter or trends on Google is fun. The problem is… it’s unpredictable, and while unpredictability is valued, it’s only valued up until a certain point.
Freelancing has its advantages: the aforementioned ability to essentially schedule whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want. It’s an even sweeter deal because if it is with an upstart company that gave you your first post-graduate internship and showed a genuine interest in the talent you brought to the table, you’ll actually feel wanted. The disadvantages are incredibly obvious. Hint: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin all have this in common. No, they weren’t all presidents, either.
So, I don’t get paid – well, that’s a lie. I get paid, but I get paid for what I write and the traffic I bring in to the website I write for. I also don’t get paid until the end of the month, so I have to budget myself appropriately until then and try to resist the urge to spend money on nights out, Buffalo Wild Wings, Yankees and Rangers tickets, clothes and, obviously, more coffee.
Another disadvantage is communicating through email – and sometimes, Skype. While it is nice that I can answer my emails without pants on from the convenience of my own bedroom and choose to take advantage of the technological advancements that the internet has greatly bestowed on us, there is this hollow feeling that my friends and peers are in more real work environments and have the opportunity to have live, human interaction with their other co-workers each day. The closest I get to that is meticulously reading everybody’s planned editorial schedules for the given week.
Being a freelance journalist is actually fun and cool if you’re the individual who usually loves what you do. At the same time, you don’t feel like a real person (much sarcasm). If you strip it down to bare bones, it’s a fun part-time job where you make pocket change just by regurgitating already-existing information, however, putting your own interesting spin on it. The extra spin is what makes or break every article. I’ve done articles on major athletes getting injured or traded, and they each have done very well, and then I’ve done articles about more serious issues like player trails and barely had over 1,000 page views even then.
This doesn’t apply just to sports, either. News, politics, entertainment, health and fitness, and a boatload of other topics all have niches. I can log on and go to Buzzfeed, Thought catalog, Elite Daily, Complex, Cracked, Funny or Die, Barstool, Uproxx, The Chive, 9GAG, Bustle and, finally, the consolidation of the entire interwebz, Reddit, and have the capability of fulfilling my internet surfer fix for the day. Jobs like this are trending, and they are the immediate future until some other shiny new toys come along to either merge with existing websites or knock these sites off their current pedestals.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it is time for me to go write about the life of a freelance sports journalist – and get paid for it this time…