For more than a dozen years, I have been self-employed, a small business person, a sole proprietor, call it what you will. Only recently have I accepted the term freelancer to describe what I do and I don’t really know why I resisted the term so long. Once I did, it became much easier to find resources that speak to the challenges and joys of my life. From the Freelancers Union and the book The Freelancer’s Bible by its founder Sara Horowitz, to the blog and book The Freelancer’s Survival Guide by excellent SF author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, to a virtual ton of other ebooks, blogs, websites, and other resources, it is easy to get overwhelmed with how much information is available for freelancers.
So, the question becomes, how much time can I devote to reading about what I do, knowing that every minute I spend on that takes me away from doing it? Flip that over, it becomes, how much of this information do I actually need to be better at what I am doing and to avoid pitfalls?
I have the 2 books mentioned and have read some in each. They are both excellent, well-written, well-organized and thorough. Each author has her own voice. It is refreshing to me to read business books written by women who are experts in their fields, rather than ra-ra motivational pablum from rich guys who mostly lucked into being born with the right parents. I would encourage you to get one or both of them and read them if you want to be a better freelancer. Join the Freelancer’s Union and read their blog. Once you have a book ready, you might find that writing for their blog (which does not pay for the articles they use but does have a huge following) to be a way to get some traffic to your site so you can sell copies.
You might even put the word “freelance” into the search box for topics or tags here on WordPress and find a blog or three that strike your fancy. That’s what I did and I found this post: http://dadsgoinghome.com/2015/08/10/four-tips-from-four-weeks-my-first-impressions-after-a-month-at-home/ While the author (George J. Patterson) is blogging there about being a stay-at-home dad, he is talking freelancing big time. His post led me to comment and that comment is why I am writing this post.
So, what is my biggest challenge as a freelancer?
Self-discipline. There I confessed it!
(No, not the kind that involves whips! Stop reading 50 Shades and get your mind out of the gutter!)
I need to do a much better job of focusing so that I spend more time on writing for my (currently one) paying client, working on my books in progress, and marketing to clients for all my lines of service both current and potential. While I have found a great deal of inspiration from conversations on Facebook and links on Twitter and I use them to promote my blog and my business and my hobbies, in the final analysis, these are almost as big of a timesink as Pinterest (ooh! look! Shiny!). I am toying with the idea of having days where I simply do not get on social media (except WordPress) at all. And the fact that I said “toying with the idea” shows how addictive social media can be (“I can quit any time I want to! Really I can! Try me!”).
I ran across an article on the Writers Digest website entitled “Why a Writer Without a Deadline is Looking for Trouble” and I think this is my problem: I have no deadlines for my writing. In fact, the only deadlines I have is for my notary work and those are sometimes just ridiculous, so I have to work around the deadlines, rather than accept them.
(“We want it done yesterday!” Nope, can’t do that. “Okay, how about immediately?” Nope, can’t do that either. “All right, then. We will give you 30 minutes to print this 200 page package of mixed letter and legal-sized documents in duplicate and drive across town through the construction zone during rush hour. Are you happy now?” Uhm, no, but make it 2 hours, give me at least one good phone number for the signers, and double my usual fee due to the extra-large package and the last-minute rush and I will be. Hello? Are you there? We must have gotten cut off.)
If I can set myself a deadline and get a handle on self-discipline, who knows where this freelancing thing could take me?
So, thanks to Mr. Patterson , who inspired me. Only time will tell if I “take this bull by the horns” and subdue it. I am coming to believe that doing so is going to be necessary in order to ever achieve my goals.