Every day is a good day, right? Anyone?
There are many little joys to freelancing. Actually too many to even revel in them.
That fat check you got from Mr. Jones, spent a week later.
That week you finally took off because you were overworked… passed as if it were only a few hours.
A masterpiece of a project that gave you pride but not giving you the same feeling on a sort-of-blah-as-vanilla project being worked on now.
Then, of course, there are the so-called bad days. I’m not talking about Mondays or slaving away with bird flu and a bad back, but those days where the shit hits the fan and you see your career hit a breaking point.
Why? These stay in our memory forever as we look back on them like childhood memories saying to ourselves “boy was I reall that stupid.” Today, you can learn to do almost anything (actually more like learning to do something right) but there is only one way to really learn something.
The wrong way. Don’t tell me these are unfamiliar.
Many freelancers have jobs to back them up. Fraidy cats, I say. You never forget the experience of jumping in head first and blindfolded. Nor the wait until your head hits the bottom of that empty swimming pool.
Oh, such as the days where I used a decade-old laptop, worked in a dark room and ate hearty meals of beans day in and day out. Then the crumbs of work to earn those daily beans. Even charging clients in beans but, for a good client, an extra loaf of bread.
There is no greater joy, however, moving up to the can of tuna to accompany your meal.
Lesson: It gets better. It can only get better.
It so happened that, years back, the first client I ever had offered me a great rate (better than beans) and all the work I could use at the time. I’ll admit, I did a half-ass job and was probably a quarter-ass skilled freelancer but work got done by golly.
Long story short, a lot of work and no beans make a freelancer hungry. Don’t sweat it. You’ll live to tell about it, albeit while suffering hunger along the way.
Lesson: Know whatever the hell it is you’re trying to do and don’t forget to collect the deposit.
Hmmm, computer isn’t booting up today. Restart (times 50) and we have… a blue screen. Dammit, you knew those strange choking sounds were the beginning of the end. Oh well, time to take the day off and hit up your friend to borrow that laptop. Problem solved.
Oh wait, there was still that project you were working on in there trapped on a useless hard drive.
Lesson: Backup. If you skip it, you won’t miss those lost photos pulled off the Victoria’s Secret website anyway.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
Being needy for projects is nothing new for anyone new to freelancing. Many projects equals a pretty hefty payday, if I’m correct. Taking on a request for a new, improved Twitter wannabe for big-budgeted Mr. Know-it-not isn’t quite the way to go though.
Sure, we all like to think we are the designer, developer and marketer all in one when all that can really be done is installing WordPress with a cheesy logo. Ambition eventaully comes to terms with ability and crashes back to earth.
Lesson: Before starting a project, stop counting your money as if it were in a big pile right in front of you. Count the hours you’ll spend on forums pleading for help instead.
The granddaddy of all things that pervades freelancers. Right up there with shooting your friend in the face as the U.S. vice president. The bright side is that we’re neither flying airplanes nor have the doomsday button at out side (unless that is you’re fallback job). It’s only our clients’ businesses at stake.
Analyzing the situation brings thoughts of a coverup, escape plan or working like mad all night hoping it won’t be noticed the next day. Then realizing the best damage control is uncontrollable sobbing while offering an explanation.
Lesson: Just keep doing what you’re doing. You won’t mess this up this lesson.
And while we're on the subject...