As I attempt to transition from writing novels and scripts to also trying to make a little money, I feel very much like a typical housewife trying to enter the workforce. In some ways, of course, this is exactly the case, because I've been a stay-at-home dad for the past 13 years (while also doing a few other things). Now I'm trying to find a way to earn cash, though I still need to be available for my kids and to handle basic household duties.
In theory, of course, my wife and I could hire people to handle these chores and childcare, but there's a inherent circular conundrum to working a job in order to earn enough money to pay someone to watch your kids and cook your dinner and clean your house in order for you to work your job. And I face the classic housewife's problem that the tasks that I've been performing for the past 13 years, which involve a great deal of carting around children, multi-tasking doctor's appointments, play dates, grocery shopping, laundry, reading stories, bandaging skinned knees. Though I understand how the ability to do all these things would be useful to an employer, it's not clear the rest of the world sees it that way. They prefer employees with skills that are bit easier to document and who come with references written by people who have finished elementary school or are not married to me. Plus most of them don't want to hire someone only for a few hours a day.
What's interesting is that I've doubled-up the housewife syndrome, by having spent my previous years primarily writing plays and novels (and making theatre). In many ways, I've nurtured and sustained these works not entirely unlike I've done for my children. I've done my best to develop them into fully-formed works of art that are now somewhat on their own in the world, interacting with readers, audiences, actors and directors. They don't need me so much anymore. And much like raising my children, experience writing for theatre (and writing novels) is not inherently commercial. Folks who are looking to hire freelance writers for actual paying gigs look at my years spent writing fiction and drama with some puzzlement. "Yes, we suppose he can write, but he doesn't have relevant clips, or references from actual employers." (And I look back at them, suddenly worried that maybe they're right and I won't know how to handle whatever they throw at me.)
I'll find a way to squeeze my way into some sort of freelance work, or some sort of paying gig doing something. Somehow. But like the other former stay-at-home moms and dads, it's going to be a slippery, half-lit path, with lots of stumbles, stubbed toes, and more than a few lost trails. And it's going to take longer than I hoped or expected. (I have a feeling there are more than a few other writers in the blogosphere who can vouch for the same challenges of moving from writing fiction to writing to try to help support the family.)
( So far, I've been very fortunate to get lots of input and support from my friends. I've gotten some very useful tips, advice, and more.)
P.S. I have been putting a little time into guru.com, but no luck yet. I've made ten bids so far. It seems a system that inherently favors the employers. The secret bidding on the part of freelancers, seems like it will deeply suppress wages (we don't know where the basement is for work rates). Most of the projects described by employers looking for writers or editors are too sketchily described for me to put together an intelligent cost estimate. I'm guessing that most of the employers are looking for a deep bargain, or are barely qualified to hire anyone to do anything. We'll see.