Life as a Freelancer

The kids are packed up. I'm dressed and caffeinated and sitting in front of my computer. I have to make my plan for the week. 

Last week, I published another article with the Atlantic. This one was about Newark's new merit bonus program. In some ways, it was a fairly easy article to write. Education politics was one of my academic specialties. I knew who to talk to for quotes and can ask the right questions.

In other ways, writing about education isn't so easy.  I'm still burned out on the topic even after finishing that dissertation ten years ago. Sometimes it is easier to write about topics that you are discovering for the first time. The curiosity is there. 

The article did fairly well, thanks to some nice words on Twitter from Randi Weingarten, the president of the AFT. I'm not privy to the actual traffic numbers, but I can get a sense of its popularity from the number of Facebook likes and links from Twitter. 

After I write one of those articles, it is very tempting to sit in front of the page hitting refresh over and over to watch that little counter go up. But it isn't a great use of my time. Luckily, I had plans on Friday and was forced to be separated from my computer. 

It's a new week. And online articles have the same life span as a tuna fish sandwich. So, it's time to choose the next topic.

I have a couple of ideas, but I have to play around with them to see which one has the most potential. I like topics that are grounded in some research, where I can leverage my social science background, but are tied to a timely event.  I like topics that have gotten buried on page 17 of the regular newspaper and really deserve more attention. I like topics that brings attention to women and kids.

I'm slowly turning blogging into a traditional career. I'm still surprised by this turn of events. 

8 thoughts on “Life as a Freelancer

  1. Good luck! I love seeing your articles pop up on The Atlantic: they’re always a joy to read while being thought-provoking.
    I hadn’t thought about how much work it is to be coming up with new topics that are timely and ‘do-able’ while also appealing enough that you’ll pursue them. That has to be half a job by itself!

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  2. I like topics that brings attention to women and kids.
    The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. That might be a little-covered story you could look at in that area.

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  3. Since her job is, essentially, to produce an heir, I would imagine that Kate is a role model for people seeking work/ life balance.

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  4. I’m of the opinion that absent a very few paths (right now, the military & physicians come to mind, and I think the physician trajectory is going to change during our children’s lifetimes and don’t know enough about the military to have an opinon), that many of our children are going to “turning [something] into a career” rather than having a traditional career mapped out for them. So, I love hearing your stories of how you’re doing it.
    I think there was a time when credentialing was a path to a career and profession, a lifelong one (for elites) and unions and guilds and manufacturing was the path to a lifelong job (for “working class”) and that both of these paths brought economic and social benefits that come with that stability. Mind you, I think it was probably a short time, potentially the thirty or so years after the war, so it’s wrong to imagine it as the state of old.
    But, I think we’re looking into a future where many people are going to need to reinvent themselves, their plans, take risks, revise goals frequently over a lifetime, and potentially even over the short term, as in figuring out what story they’re going to write each time they write one. So, good stuff.

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  5. “I’m of the opinion that absent a very few paths (right now, the military & physicians come to mind, and I think the physician trajectory is going to change during our children’s lifetimes and don’t know enough about the military to have an opinon), that many of our children are going to “turning [something] into a career” rather than having a traditional career mapped out for them.”
    The military isn’t a sure thing, either, actually.
    1. Even under the best of circumstances, “up or out” is the rule. I was just looking at a Wikipedia page saying that official US military policy is that if you are officer passed over promotion twice, you have to be discharged.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cravath_System
    Some years ago, my brother was a Marine reservist deployed in Iraq. He was in his early 20s, which in the context of Marine Corps culture meant that he was an old guy. (Officers are older, of course.)
    2. On top of the “up or out” issue, you also have the problem of periodic contraction of forces. For instance, after the Cold War, a lot of people in the US military lost their jobs. During GHWB’s presidency, activity duty military went from 2.2 million to 1.8 million and under Clinton, active duty military contracted further from 1.8 million to 1.4 million.
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2008/jan/24/rudy-giuliani/the-peace-dividend-began-with-a-bush/
    More defense cuts are on the way, too.
    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/11/08/defense-cuts-complicate-obamas-second-term.html
    I would certainly encourage the people I know who are in the military to remember that they probably won’t be able to stay in as long as they’d like to.

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  6. I think that in future, people are going to be more losely affiliated with one place of employment. Companies are going to start hiring all their staff as consultants or temporary employees. That way they don’t have to offer benefits or deal with legal restrictions. This won’t entirely be bad for employees, at least those at a certain level. They’ll be paid more and will have more control over their work life. They’ll be able to come and go more easily and not be tied down by a two week vacation period.
    Alright, this isn’t the future. This is now. At some point, I’ll have to write more about this.

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  7. “They’ll be paid more and will have more control over their work life. They’ll be able to come and go more easily and not be tied down by a two week vacation period.”
    That’s very true of my BIL who is a technical consultant for a major US corporation. He has been offered the chance to come on and be staff, but being European, he likes being able to take a big chunk of time for vacation. As I’ve mentioned before, BIL can be pretty withering on the subject of Americans who hang around at work all day not getting anything done. BIL and my sister also own three seasonal businesses, which is where at least some of his vacation time gets spent.
    I believe they just bought a house in a nice suburb for cash, which is pretty sweet.

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  8. Tough question to write on, but it might fit your criterion above, issues of importance to women, personal connection/story, bigger political/social forces, including adjuncting. But, it’s missing the current topic hook.

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