Autarchy Projects: Freelancing

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I set the goal in 2012 that I wanted to be taken seriously as a freelance writer. This culminated in the writing of my book. I was finishing my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Mass Media, had read a book about freelance writing as a business model, and was putting into practice some of what I was learning in the book–including how to write a book proposal. My first book proposal was Tending the Epicurean Garden, and the first publisher I targeted was Humanist Press.

I take particular pride in my intuitive approach to becoming an author. Most aspiring authors write many book proposals and target multiple publishers, spend years acquiring an area of expertise, and must wait long years before they will hear back from these publishers, usually to get nothing but rejections. For me, it only required ONE try. This is why I highly recommend for anyone attempting to be taken seriously as a writer to first take YOURSELVES seriously, to respect yourselves and your skills enough that you think of your side hustle as an actual job and treat it with as much professionalism as you would any job … and to take on a mentor (or several). You don’t need to personally know your mentor. You just have to read a book by a veteran who has been there and done that, and shares all his secrets, and then walk the walk yourself. And you will fail and make mistakes, but you will learn from them, take notes, and keep trying.

As a freelance writer, I learned that you had to be very focused and that this business model requires as much time management skills as it does language, editorial, organizational, and other skills. I learned that you have to set concise, specific, concrete daily productivity goals in your freelance writing business, and from those goals develop a DMO (daily mode of operation)–just as you would with any other self-employed situation where you work from home, in order to avoid constant distractions and social media. Set a time block for work and respect it–even if you’re working in your pajamas from your bedroom.

Over the years, I’ve continued to engage in freelance writing projects. I translated two books from French into English and from Spanish into English for a UIC architect. I found that job via Craigslist. The project lasted over a month. I later capitalized on my love of languages by creating a naming language for a science fiction author. Most of these projects did not pay much, but the money they paid was much needed, as most of the content I’ve created during the last six years has been free and I only have two patreon subscribers.

Once you build a name for yourself, you will start receiving invites to contribute content to various outlets in your area of expertise. Michael Fontaine, a Cornell University professor who reviewed by book, invited me to write an essay for Eidolon for which I made $100. Vintage Books–which is now a division of Penguin Random House–will be publishing a book titled How to Live a Good Life. The book will include approximately 15 chapters on diverse religions and philosophies as practiced by people today. It has already received a brief mention by Publishers Weekly. I was invited to write the 5,000-word chapter on Epicureanism! The book comes out in the fall of this year.

It is almost impossible–without great means and money for marketing–to build a profitable career as a freelance writer. But it is much more easy to have it as a side hustle for extra income. Freelancing allows you to become You, Inc.

The same goes for many other skills that one may have, whether it is digital or manual painting / design, musical gifts (many youtubers have gained fame or made either a modest or a considerable income), video and animation, computer programming, or marketing. If you have a good voice, you may offer voice-over services in whatever languages you speak.

If you do start your own freelancing side-business, you may also hire freelancers to supply the skill sets that you lack in order to advance your projects, or participate in freelancer networks that provide mutual assistance, learning, insurance, and other benefits. I hired the lady who made my business logo when I started through Fiverr. I paid less than $ 15, which is a much larger fee to an Indonesian young woman in her own currency than what it is in US dollars. Fiverr not only serves as one of many platforms where you as a freelancer can sell your skills, but also allows entrepreneurs and business owners to make their business better, stay on budget and get things done with just a click by giving you instant access to vetted professional freelancers. Before you hire someone there, you can read the reviews from people who have hired them before, so there’s an element of crowd-sourced trust that is built on the platform.

One of the theories that I set out to prove and implement when I decided to delve into focusing on autarchy in 2019 was the Epicurean concept that mutual benefit is what lubricates social and business relations; that it does not just define just relations, but is a much more central value in all social ethics. The requirements of a freelancing business have made the importance of mutual advantage self-evident at every turn: it has benefitted my readers (who consume and, presumably, enjoy my content), myself (made royalties), Humanist Press (makes money from my book), the UIC architect who hired me (got a clear copy in English of two books), the girl in Indonesia who designed my logo (made a bit of money), and hopefully many others will benefit indirectly–for instance, the English-speaking architecture students who will read the book I translated. In this way, Epicurean principles inform and help shape good, wholesome business practices. So as you implement your business plan, consider the ways in which mutual advantage can be maximized, as that tends to be the path of least resistance to profit and benefit together with others and get things done most efficiently!

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014) and 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and founder of He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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