Memes show entertaining pictures of what different types of people think about those who freelance for a living.
The thing is, none of those pictures in the above meme is correct, except maybe for the first. Freelancing is a business built on hope.
Since the end of October, I have spent most of every day living in hope. I work hard, but for the most part it’s not paid work. I spend that time prospecting for work. I use LinkedIn, Alignable, Craigslist, NDash, Fiverr, WriteJobs, Remote, Angellist, and others sites that either post temporary jobs or projects/gigs. In the low-bid sites (e.g., Fiverr), I try to educate buyers by explaining to them the complex nature of their projects, but most don’t bother listening.
Freelancers live in the hope of the next project, the next gig. We do our best to secure those long-term clients who need regular services, like newsletters and books.
Uncertainty forces us to become very careful with money. After all, we don’t know when the next paycheck is coming or how much it will be when it does arrive. We learn to let go of what we can’t control, because we live an uncertain life working at an unpredictable career.
It’s not for everyone, but some of us thrive on it.
My career rests in my hands. Yes, I depend upon others to hire me for the skills I bring and to pay me for the use of those skills; however, I set my own (long) hours and chase the work that suits me. I do not answer to any project manager who dictates what I do and when I must do it. That’s the control I exert over my career.
I’ve done this for two years now. Some months fly by with project after project. Life is good during those “feast” times. Some months drag with days spent huddled with the computer and stress rising as I try to land a paying gig with a client who appreciates the skills I offer. Those months exemplify the aspect of living on hope… and dreams.
Prolonged scarcity wears on the mind and spirit. Hope can only be sustained for so long until it begins to wither and fade. Then the possibility of another project arises. Like a sprinkle of water on a parched plant, that possibility revives hope.
I guess that makes freelancers eternal optimists.