Freelancing is the dream job. Especially when you’re on the outside looking in. Your friends and former colleagues who have embraced the reality of freelance always seem to be going to exotic places, dining and meeting with exciting people, and playing golf or going to the beach.
I’ll let you in on a little secret if you’re about to make the leap from ‘traditional’ employment to freelancing. The grass is actually a lot greener on this side of the fence and there are free mimosas every morning and delightful foot massages each afternoon.
Are you kidding me? Last time I checked, the only way to get paid is to accomplish a project for someone with money. Otherwise, you’re just toiling away at a non-paying hobby. In short order, you’ll run out of food and housing and probably be living in your Pinto.
“But wait,” you say. “I’m actually working as a freelancer AND I’m making so little that I have to live in my Pinto!”
OK. THAT’s the real secret. Unless you treat freelancing seriously and hustle every minute of every day, you will find yourself living in your car. The real trick to freelancing success is eventually reaching the stage where you are turning work away and/or subcontracting some of your work out to other writers.
How do I know this? I’ve been freelancing most of my adult life and rocketed to current high standard of living only when I started turning down jobs. You see, nothing succeeds like the appearance of success and if you become unavailable, clients work themselves into a frenzy trying to hire you.
So, am I advocating turning down a job just to see what happens? Actually I am. Look at your current workflow and client list. Where is that one job that’s more annoying than rewarding. You know, the one that actually has you making $3.65 an hour after repeated edits, hours of research and artificial deadlines. Turn down the next gig they offer you.
Then, at the next drinking event….I mean networking meeting you attend, make a big deal about turning down XYZ company because you’re too busy. Word will get back that you’ve got more work than you can handle and people will assume that’s because you’re a great writer, a charming conversationalist and a snappy dresser.
Suddenly, you’ll have to hire a virtual assistant to answer your phones and return your emails. You’ll be on the fast track to real success…getting paid to write columns about what you did last weekend or how you know your cat is planning to pluck out your eyeballs while you sleep. You’ll also be able to stop getting dressed up because you’ll be considered an artist. And your calendar will stop filling up with deadlines and start filling up with cocktail parties, social events and global travel.
Just be sure not to try and ride this wave so long that all your work actually dries up. You might still have to write a few things each week and maintain a schedule where entire blocks of time have you unavailable. You can use those times to catch up on your magazine subscriptions or practice your short game.
Regardless, your success as a writer is now ensured. Go forth and turn away work! Then enjoy the fruits of your…err…relaxation.