Being a freelancer is a pretty good deal in most regards. In your down-time, you get to hit the beach; in your up-time, you’re earning more than it’s comfortable to say out loud.
But there are a few speed bumps along the way. Before I became a creative, I spent ten years as a stand-up comic, which is like freelancing on steroids. Now that I’m freelancing in adland, I’ve noticed there’s a fair bit of crossover. If you’re new to the team, here are a couple of tips that’ll make this life a little easier.
1. Talk yourself up
Besides iron ore, sporting silverware and anyone who’s made it in America, nothing is more valuable to Australians than humility. If you want proof, check out the public’s hasty U-turn on the talented Nick Kyrgios when he admitted he might be okay at this whole tennis thing. Unforgivable. But when you’re scouting for a gig, you need to put a lifetime of cultural conditioning aside and admit that you might just be capable of the position you’re after.
It doesn’t come naturally to most, so try writing an introductory email and shooting it to a mate. If you know a recruiter, even better. They’ll be able to tell you which bits to lose and what to pump up. Pepper the revised email with a bit of your trademark subtle charm, then close your eyes, cringe hard and hit send.
Wasn’t so hard, was it?
2. Beware the wandering mind
Chasing work is like pursuing a love interest. When you’re the one giving chase, they can consume your every thought. You send an email or text, your heart aflutter with joy and anticipation, and as soon as it’s gone you start wondering why they haven’t responded.
Are they ignoring you? Did you accidentally offend them? Have they been hit by a falling coconut?
My advice: chill. There is literally an infinite number of reasons why they haven’t responded, and you’ll never be able to apportion adequate concern to them all. Just accept that they heard you hate puppies or that they’re tied up in the boot of a car somewhere and get on with your life. That anxious energy is far better spent chasing other gigs than playing out demoralising scenarios in your head.*
* This approach should not be applied to pursuing true love (mind you, it is a numbers game).
3. Count your dollars, keep your scents
Very little in life can teach you as much as the sporadic payload. It’s drinks all round one week, wine in a box the next. And that’s great. Because when you’re coming off a week of Weetbix dinners, popping out for a takeaway sandwich at lunch is one of life’s greatest gifts.
When you’re freelancing, you need to save for the lean times. And knowing that you can get by for a week with a single roll of toilet paper in the house does wonders when you’re taking an axe to your outgoings.
That said, it’s always worth having enough money to cover shower gel and deodorant. People might not be able to see you’re broke, but they can certainly smell it.
4. Fill your days
Stagnant body, stagnant mind. Every day, get up and do something before lethargy sinks its claws in.
Get some sunlight before Sunrise (6am, Ch 7), some fresh air before Frasier (11.30am, Ch 11) and some human interaction before Instyler Ceramic Styling Shells™ (9.52am, SpreeTV). Then do something productive like weeding the garden or writing a pseudo-self promotional LinkedIn article.* You’ll feel shedloads better for it.
*Check out my website: richbrophy.com
Rich Brophy is a stand-up comedian turned creative copywriter who doesn’t normally use asterisks.
Image: cobalt123, via Flickr