Freelance writing? Is it for me?

I recently received notice that my hours will be cut at my "day job." I love being able to work from home and the flexibility to play with my kids during short breaks from the computer. I'm not too keen on the idea of finding a new job which requires me to get out of bed, shower, and drive somewhere before starting my day. I'm even less fond of the prospect of putting my kids in a daycare for a few hours while my work and Nate's overlaps. I've been spoiled by having a great boss who is amazingly understanding about my family coming first. I did a couple of job searches, just to see what was out there and weigh my options. Pickings are still slim around here. There was one possibility in my current career field, but the wages were laughable. I'd spend more money on daycare (for the few hours the kids would need to be watched each day), transportation costs, and updating my work wardrobe then I would make.

I decided if I was going to change career fields, again, I better make it the right one this time. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do currently, but since there's nothing around here in that field, I'm at a crossroads. Again.)

I've spent my entire life wanting to be a writer. I have spent my entire life being a writer, why not get paid for it? Could I be a freelance writer? Would I enjoy freelance writing about various topics based on whomever wants to pay me? Yes! I can do that. (Which reminds me, I did some freelance report writing in high school.)

After a few false starts with "work from home" scams, I found some reputable websites that connect freelancers and contractors.

Imagine my surprise last night when I received a notice that my status had changed from "applicant" to "active candidacy" on one of the jobs I'd applied for. It's a large project for me to start with, clearly not as large as a novel, but more than one article. With a detailed description of the project in hand, I started to panic.

I want this job. I want to look professional. I don't want to drive them away by costing too much, yet I don't want to spend the hours I could be working on my novels, writing for free. Know what I mean? However, I know that since I don't have experience writing professionally, I'm not going to make top dollar. We all have to start somewhere.

Please provide an estimate. Gulp. Estimate? Oh boy. How do I create an estimate? How do I value my time? How do I present the estimate?

Enter, google. This was one time that I didn't get side-tracked. I found some information, but of course it was all vague. "Don't overcharge, but don't undervalue yourself either." Geez, I didn't already figure that out myself? I found a huge price range. Which again was ridiculously hazy. "Freelance writers make anywhere from 10 cents a word to $200 per hour."

So, I went with my gut. I calculated my current hourly rate from my salary, and decided 75% of that would be a fair starting wage. I figured out how many hours I thought it would take to complete each item in the project, added it all up, add 10% (to cover my mistaken belief of how quickly I can accomplish things) and swallowed repeatedly.

Then it was time to prepare the response to the contractor. How do you do that and look professional? Back to google. After two hours of searching and trying to find something that seemed right to me, I found nothing. Blah. I went with a plain business letter typed up in Word, with a break down of costs, a couple questions to be clarified and several untyped prayers to whomever is in charge.

Shortly after midnight, I finished and submitted the proposal. I hope to hear something by Monday at the latest, but until then, I'm checking my email every three minutes.