Something dawned on me as I went through my day trying to learn as much about unemployment benefits as I could—I have far too many unemployed friends.
I spent today trying to get to the bottom of the whole freelancing/unemployment thing I was wondering about in an earlier post. Since last week I’ve e-mailed or spoken with several friends about the subject, friends who are also laid-off sports writers. It's nice to have that kind of network, but sad to think about how many laid-off journalists I know.
I appreciated hearing their thoughts, but I figured I better give the people at employment security another shout to see what comes of it. This time instead of calling the office again, I decided to go there in person.
I feared the worst. But found it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. I was in and out in less than a half-hour. And I left with some good information—or at least information that supports my earlier conversation with a benefits person.
It seems freelancers are considered independent contractors, which is great news. I was told—for the second time—independent contractors are able to make money without it affecting their unemployment benefits.
The two keys are that I continue looking for full-time work, which I have been doing (applied for two jobs so far). The other is that if I begin making significant money as an independent contractor I should declare that as my full-time job and cancel my unemployment benefits, which has been my goal all along.
I’ve already got a handful of freelance assignments, thanks to previous standing gigs with IrishEyes magazine and RSNA News, a newsletter produced by the Radiological Society of North America.
I’ve pitched two story ideas to the Chicago Tribune. And I’ve got a solid idea I want to pitch to Chicago magazine. The more places I can publish my work, the better it is for my clip file.
So that’s where I’m focusing my attention for the time being. It means I’m now Paul LaTour, Independent Contractor.
It beats the other career move I was contemplating: Paul LaTour, Male Prostitute.