Becoming a freelancer after graduation is scary. So is watching someone you love enter a really risk career field. My parents definitely didn’t understand my decision to start freelancing after college, but I was lucky enough to have a family who trusted me, even when they were afraid that I’d crash and burn. I could have, however, helped to calm their nerves a little by answering a few questions, questions they didn’t know to ask.

So, if you’re a parent, this post is for you. Here’s what you need to know about freelance writing as a career path for your child:

Q: What are the benefits to freelance writing?

Your child is entering a field that is relatively new, getting in at the ground level so to speak. This isn’t an industry that’s going anywhere (other than improving), and in 20 or 30 years, your child will be an expert in a field that is still growing, exponentially. There’s also the benefit of not being tethered to one location, which means that your child could live with you now and move out as soon as he/she has saved up enough money (or could move back in if he/she has money problems while living away from home). Another strong benefit is being able to make a work schedule that works for your child. He/she can plan work as necessary, but also have time for visiting friends and family.

Q: What will my child do to make money?

Freelance writing, at least in the online sense, gives your child multiple options. He/she could be a professional blogger, write e-books (which are usually short non-fiction books available exclusively in a digital format), help with the web design process, create articles for news and hobby websites, write reviews of products, or otherwise help companies create the text content for their online real estate. Remember, every word you read online was written by someone, and some people prefer to hire others, rather than do the writing themselves.

Q: How will my child find jobs?

If your child is making the leap to be a freelancer full-time, chances are that he/she already has clients to get started. Some clients offer one-time gigs, while others will make recurring orders. If your child is low on jobs, there are a number of databases, both free and paid, where more jobs can be found.

Q: Is this a secure field?

No. Personally, though, I believe that few fields are secure. Your child will be fired from any position if he/she doesn’t do a good job. Likewise, clients can fire writers, decide not to work with them in the future, or even spread the word to others that certain writers aren’t worth the money. In addition, the job market for gigs is extremely competitive, so your child has to learn to budget knowing that work could be hard to find next month even though there’s a lot of money being earned this month. The bottom line is this: freelance writing is like any industry. Bad luck may come into play, but if your child works hard and is good at what he/she does, it is no less secure than other fields.

Q: Is freelance writing a scam?

It can be. Your child needs to be smart about ensuring that the jobs taken are with reputable clients. In addition, the use of escrow services and working with a contract can help your child from losing money or otherwise being scammed. Most Internet-savvy people, though, can spot a scam a mile away, so it isn’t something that you need to worry about too much.

Q: Can I help my child?

Absolutely! Maybe not in the ways you think, though. You need to let your child stand on his/her own two feet, and that includes making mistakes from time to time. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Ask your child about call preferences. Since he/she makes his/her own work schedule, your child may sleep at odd times or really need to focus on work to meet deadlines at certain points. Don’t assume that just because most people work 9 - 5 that your child does as well.
  • Remember that your child takes his/her work along most of the time when traveling. So, if you want to be visited more often, make sure you have reliable Internet and allow some privacy for a few hours so your child get do what he/she has to do.
  • Don’t clog your child’s work email box with forwards and cute notes. Yes, your child wants to hear from you, but use his/her personal email or combine everything you want to say into a single email, not twenty separate emails.
  • Be supportive of your child’s work online. Visit his/her blog and leave productive comments (which means something useful, not “I’m proud of you” or “Mommy loves you.”)
  • Make an effort to understand your child’s work. You don’t have to join Facebook or Twitter, but you should know what they are so you can hold a conversation about work with your child.
  • Voice your concerns - once. If you think something is a bad idea, you should definitely let your child know your opinion…but only once. Trust me, he/she listened and cataloged. You don’t need to drill it into your child’s head that you don’t agree with something they’re considering doing, like taking a specific freelancing job or working odd hours. You don’t want it to turn into nagging. Your child is an adult, and you won’t always like the decisions he/she makes.
  • Be vocal about your child’s work. The more readers, the better, so feel free to embarrass the hell out of your son or daughter and tell everyone your know about your child’s blogs or clients.

Q: What if this doesn’t work out?

First of all, don’t think that way. Living in the land of “what ifs” can be terrifying, and your child already has doubts and insecurities, just like every other 20-something out there. It’s true; freelance writing might not work out. The same is true for every career path. If it doesn’t work out, support your child in sending out resumes to other jobs and consider offering a place to stay while your child gets back on his/her feet.

Q: Was my college money worth it?

YES! Your child is following his/her dreams, taking a leap of faith to do a job that he/she loves. When you paid (or helped pay) for college, what did you expect as a better outcome? As a freelancer, your child may not get rich quick, but he/she will be making money and enjoying the process. That’s not something most people can say. If that’s not a good investment, I don’t know what is!

Parents, feel free to list other questions in the comments section below, and I’ll be happy to answer them!

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