Diversify or perish?

I’m writing an article about diversification in farming.


WAKE UP! It’s not as boring as it sounds.

It’s about a farmer who started out in egg production, then in an attempt to cut down overly high costs in one area of his business, he ended up developing a separate business in that area.

Then his customers started asking about other things they could buy when they bought his eggs, so he decided to deliver in that area as well. Then they started asking when they could get something to eat while they bought his products, so he expanded into that as well.

So now instead of having all his eggs in one basket – so to speak – he’s got income coming in from four different businesses. If one business has a turn-down or something goes wrong, he’s got three other ones to rely on.

Diversification is essential in freelancing for the same reasons. Favourite editors come and go. Publications come and go. Sometimes entire publishing industries come and go (metropolitan newspapers, anyone?). If you’re relying on just one source of income, you’re exquisitely vulnerable to any perturbation in the system.

Diversification is also important in the type of work you do. When I started freelancing, I had this notion that I would always be writing sensational, exciting, science features, and my day of writing would start something like this:


But, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it’s more like this:


There’s the work that is sensational, exciting, stimulating, challenging and makes me feel like a crack reporter.

And there’s also the work that, while I still enjoy, doesn’t quite float my boat as much.

Ok, maybe I’m being cautious in case any of my editors are reading this. Sometimes it’s drudge. But this work is just as important because not only does it help pay the bills and support my chocolate habit (not to mention the hubby and kids), but sometimes some cracker ideas come from what appear on the surface to be pretty straightforward boring stories.

Some of my favourite articles have been ones that even the brief has warned will be as dull as a celebrity drugs scandal yet turn out to be eye-opening, mind-expanding, genuinely fascinating pieces of scientific research.

Freelancing is like any job in that respect. There are the parts you love, the parts you go ‘meh’ over and churn through, and sometimes (but very rarely), the parts that are like having your wisdom teeth extracted through your rectum.

Thankfully haven’t had one of those for a very long time.

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