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How I balance freedom and security with freelance writing

If you work in a creative field, you have probably been asked by someone in a scornful way: "So how do you pay the bills then?" Here's my answer.

–By Fionnuala Kavanagh (Opens in a new window), freelance writer on Steady's content team

I am a freelance writer because my main passion in life is writing. 

Sure, sometimes I get anxious about money, but who doesn’t these days? 

What comforts me in those moments of financial fretting is a conversation I had with my cousin. He’s a banker with two houses and two Porsches. He told me he wishes he knew what his passion was, that he had taken the time to discover it, and been brave enough to follow it. I replied that his passion must be Porsches. 

He kind of smiled and said, “Sitting in my Porsche after a long day at the office makes me feel happy for about 5 minutes.”

Following a creative passion like writing is a meandering, beautiful, and sometimes difficult journey – definitely more of a neverending hike, rather than a spin in a fast car. 

Being a freelancer assists me on this journey – it gives me the freedom to take longer breaks from paid work, where I can spend a month at a writing residency getting into a state of deep focus on my creative projects. It also gives me the freedom I need in the week to cultivate my passion – for example, taking an essay writing course on a Monday morning. 

Fionnuala Kavanagh freelance writer

Fionnuala Kavanagh (Opens in a new window) (cc Franco Cuadra)

Most of the creative work I do is still unpaid. My dream is that someday all of it will be. Of course, I don’t do it for the money, or I would be on the race tracks with my cousin. 

But having some kind of financial security does alleviate my angst, and allows me to hit that creative sweet spot that brings me so much joy. 

When you are a freelancer, you can float above the noise of office politics, and not feel constrained by company schedules and time-off limits. You can feel free in your mind – waking up to fresh ideas for your opening chapter, rather than worries about how to reply to that difficult email. 

But how to be free of the shackles of money angst? I think that powering your creative work with memberships is a genius idea.

So why don’t I do it then? I’m getting there.

It’s taken me a while, because I have been focussing on finishing my novel, and trying to get it published via the traditional route. So far, that has been very fruitless and frustrating. At this point, I am desperate to put this big piece of work out into the world … and I have hatched a plan! 

I have noticed recently that the writing community is changing its perspective on publishing, most probably out of the same frustrations I feel – wanting to get my work out there, and also, (bonus!) getting paid for it. 

Friends stopped asking me “How’s the novel going?” and started asking me “Why don’t you have a Substack?”

I reply, “Because I work for Steady, and I researched and wrote a deep-dive article comparing Steady to Substack (Opens in a new window), and I can tell you, Steady is actually better! Steady is just less well-known than the big US companies.

With Steady, there are fewer transaction fees for Europe-based creators, no currency conversion fees and the VAT accounting stuff is easier.

The platform is also a 1-stop-publishing-shop. You can send newsletters, write a blog, and even dabble in podcasting if you want to. 

Plus, the small team of people who work there are honestly great. Sidenote: it’s pretty embarrassing that you don’t know what I do for work, seeing as we hang out every other day.”

If you live in Berlin, keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of months for my guerilla marketing campaign for my book. 

And if you live anywhere with an internet connection, watch this space for my Steady newsletter launch. :)

Topic Why Memberships?