I have to admit I’m more than a bit put out by frequent blog posts and stories offering ideas for people to consider if they’re looking for a new work-from-home lifestyle and additional revenue stream. Mainly because more than a few of the options put forward strike a nerve with me for one reason or another.
Those posts often suggest “Blogging,” “Freelance writing” and “Social media manager” as three ideas for those who make a few extra bucks. They’re tossed out as if any one of them is no big deal. You just need to decide to get started and the income will begin flowing. If you love writing or feel at home posting to social media, that’s all it takes.
Let’s be clear here: Yes, anyone can do these things. But it takes skill and experience to do them well.
You hire a social media manager because they’ve convinced you they’re “good at social media” even though they lack any experience running a corporate content program and you’ll find yourself in trouble real quick. They’ll post something inappropriate, go too far in trying to sound “authentic,” or clearly offend the audience.
You hire a freelance writer who hasn’t put in years working on honing their writing for voice, tone and other factors that are important when it’s put in the context of a marketing program and you’re creating a lot of work for yourself. You’re going to spend a lot of time editing, if not flat-out rewriting, their work.
While the above two examples are obviously personal to me, they’re both the game I am currently playing and have been playing for the last 15 years. I’ve seen both done poorly by inexperienced, if well-meaning, people and dealt with the headaches that have resulted. The inclusion of “graphic designer” and other technical jobs is just as frustrating for the same reasons. I’ve witnessed talented designers and developers have to pick up the pieces left behind by someone who oversold their abilities.
This isn’t meant to demean those who are working hard at remote freelancing in any of these categories. I’m one of them, hustling every day for writing gigs. I enjoy my work-from-home situation. But it’s not one I undertook lightly or on a lark. It’s required a lot of hard work just in adjusting to that reality, not even counting all the years I spent building up the skills I now use to market myself.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.