Quote of the Day

more Quotes

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Do You Have the Mind-Set of a Freelancer?

I've been freelancing for almost nine years now, and I can see (back in my former legal assistant career) where I had a soul-deep yearning to be my own boss. Even before that. When I asked for a dictaphone for Christmas when I was barely thirteen (or younger). When I had this teenage affinity for (home) office supplies.

NOTE: I'm at an-home freelancer who gets my projects via email, as versus a freelancing handy(wo)man who needs reliable transportation to get to his/her gigs. Therefore, I'm writing from that viewpoint where I don't require a car to do my job. Now, I do need a vehicle to get to the grocery store for weekly purchases ... unless I go the more European route and walk/bike there daily. Which is always an option.

So, what are some of the telltale signs of an entrepreneurial bent?

  1. You can always think of another (better) way to do things.
  2. You have no problem sharing these ideas (whether solicited or not). Ha!
  3. You are never bored.
  4. You are self-driven.
  5. You have many interests.
  6. You are determined, persistent. Other people may call you stubborn. Embrace it!
  7. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, you have food enough to last you. Your mantra is: I have enough for today. I have a roof over my head. I have clean clothes to wear. I have hot water. I have a working stove and a full pantry. My favorite flip-flops haven't worn out yet.
  8. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, even though you tend to be a worrier, you are surprisingly calm and peaceful. You know another project is coming shortly. You just don't know exactly when. And you are okay with that.
  9. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, it doesn't stop you from seeking out new clients or starting another stream of income. Like me, I'm an Indie author who copyedits to help pay the bills. And, at the start of this my second career, I worked at a pizza place for nine months to tide me over.
  10. While having your car die in your garage is not optimal, you realize it's better than having to tow it home (as you can't tow it to the repair shop yet because you can't pay a mechanic to fix it, no matter the cost). You choose to pay your quarterly estimated tax to the IRS instead.
  11. If freelancing is your gig, it's best to have a roommate (with a working car).
  12. If freelancing is your gig, it's best to have a freelancing roommate whose "bad" months (short on money) are not the same "bad" months you encounter. Like for me, working in publishing, my slow months each year are October through December. Some years all three months are slow. Other years just one of those three months is slow. It's a surprise as to which month. Stock up on canned goods earlier in the year to compensate for this period, like canned meats (tuna, salmon, chipped beef), canned soups, canned fruits, canned veggies, rice, pasta, beans, grits, oatmeal and the like.
  13. Freelancers must be better at dealing with hopes that have not yet materialized in this physical world. And still hoping for these things years later if needed.
  14. You must be able to give up short-term wants and conveniences for the long-term needs that satisfy you, that keep you out of a job or an environment where you are not appreciated and where you would just stagnate and die a slow and painful death. For instance, in my legal assistant days, I would go to the movies weekly and pick up food on the way home (instead of buying movie theater snacks). As a freelancer, I can't remember the last time I went to a movie in an actual theater. I may have gone in 2015, but it's probably a safer bet to go with 2014. Or 2013. You decide what's more important to you.
  15. Some months you will have no money coming in. And yet you don't freak out.
  16. Some months you have one lone $35 deposit. And you forge ahead regardless.
  17. If you are a die-hard freelancer (you know your purpose in this life; you have a set of ethics you live by; you have a manifesto, a creed, that you won't violate), then you turn down projects that aren't a good fit for you, even when your car has been dead in the garage for more than two months now, even when you haven't enough money to pay your mortgage yet this month (and it's the twenty-fifth of whatever month), and you still rise to defend your choice to be a freelancer against the naysayers who are determined to change your mind (even after all the years I've done this). Ahem.
  18. On the flip side, at least with my hands-on business, you have two consecutive months where you earn more than enough to pay your monthly bills but had to work 230 hours or more each month to make all the deadlines. Phew! Those are hectic times. And I love 'em.
Granted, you could be a hybrid, having a freelancing line of work that follows your passion, supplemented by delivering pizzas part-time or even a full-time corporate job (if you are young and can still burn the candle at both ends).

Some people are just better suited to work for others in a 9-to-5 job (what I call a "corporate" job, as my catchall term for nonfreelancers). These employees need the stability of seeing a paycheck come twice a month and knowing it will always be the same $1,000 or whatever each time. You are needed in this world. Go find a place that appreciates you and give the company your best efforts.

Maybe the corporate workers want benefits too. Just be aware that, as a freelancer, I have free Obamacare. Not that I need it or use it. I'm healthy with no need for medications, not prescription and not even over-the-counter aspirin and the like.

And if you're looking for matching 401(k) plans, I'm afraid you won't run into those nearly as much as found even one decade ago. And the gold watch at the end when you retire from the one company you've worked at for forty (or more) years? Does any company do that in 2016?

Plus, even if you are the type of employee to stay with a company for forty years, do you have any guarantee that said company will be around four decades from now? I worked decades with law firms and went through four downsizings myself. Not fun. Look at the Big 5 publishers, who used to be the Big 6 publishers and, in another decade, may be the Big 2 publishers (with Amazon being #1).

So I've said all that to say this: Don't criticize my choice to be a freelancer (especially after I have done this for 8.5 years and counting). It's my choice. I'm the only one who gets to decide what's right for me.

Just as you corporate workers have every right to decide what's right for you, such as working 9-to-5 for other people.

Both kinds of people are needed. Just because someone drafted a blueprint for the next generation car doesn't mean s/he has to build every one of those vehicles himself/herself. Even a third option, the hybrid worker, has a place in this world. And I just wish everybody was more accepting of our individual needs and rights.

We should dispense with judgment-by-labels and simply observe if a person is empowered, is happy, is fulfilled in the job that he or she does. For, to me, that is the stick by which I measure. Plus, I'm still able to pay a mortgage based on my legal assistant earnings (which greatly exceed my freelance earnings to date). But that could change with the next ebook I publish. You just never know.

Here's to following the beat of our own drummer. No matter what the dream-stealers have to say.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

No comments:

Post a Comment