This past Friday marks the one-year anniversary that I left my full-time job to pursue freelance work as a writer, community manager and big old bucket of random-odd jobs-er. It’s been great and I’ve learned a lot. But after one year, I hang my full-time freelance hat on the rack of tried-its. For anyone that is looking to to do freelance work, just know that only a third or less of your time will be spent doing the actual craft – the actual skill you were hired to perform. The majority of your time is spent in marketing, customer service, follow-ups, tracking every single dime for a tax-write-off and the list goes on. That’s a lot of hats for one person. Some people are built for it. I am not some people. But damn, do I have a fond respect for the some people.
See, I knew this not-so-secret-posted-on-every-freelance-blog fact but I had to try it for myself. I always have to find out for myself, like the time Ada told me not to touch the iron when she went to answer the phone. “Don’t touch that, Bridget, it’s really hot.” I heard her, but warnings die right before they hit the reasoning part of my brain. Or “Don’t shave your legs, Bridget, you’ll cut yourself!” But I did — right before my first communion. She was so pissed she threatened to make me wear “slacks” instead of buying me a dress. I told her I wanted to be perfect for Jesus. Jesus, I never learn. She was right by the way, it was hot. All the freelance blogs were right too – it is mostly doing things that have nothing to do with your skill.
It’s not the only reason I am looking to pursue full-time work again. Here are some others:
1.) Working with a team is better than working alone
Again, I knew this about myself, but I had to find out for sure by trying it. If you are the type of person that gets completely submerged in a project and doesn’t realize that the entire day has gone by and have little need for collaboration, then freelance work might be a great career choice. Ada and Frank started to screen my calls for my 10 a.m. brief chat sessions.
2.) My product wasn’t strong enough
Steve Jobs and Walter White have something in common – they both made a solid product. And they both got people high. (Seriously, have you heard Mac-users talk about their Macs? If they could liquify it and inject it into their arm, they would.) Freelance writers, especially, will tell you that you have to be an expert in a certain area of writing so that you can sell it. Your product needs to have a clear shape. My product was too amorphous for any marketing plan. Besides, the topic of which I’m an expert is TheBridgeBeat. Now, if only I could find a way to sell my personal musings for a legitimate career. Jersey Shore kids did it and so did Bob Ross.
3.) My social circle has become stay-at-home-moms.
They are the group of people that can grab a cup of coffee at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday when you start to twitch from lack of human interaction. Stay-at-home moms feel the same twitch too. But here’s the difference: freelancers check their phones at the coffee table, SAHMs sniff their baby’s butt at the table. “Oh yep, he pooped.” Check please! (I’m just saying – our priorities are different.)
4.) Stay-at-home-dog-mom isn’t my favorite title
During the down times, when contracts have ended and you can’t see the next one on the horizon, you have to be ok with whatever that day brings. Sometimes I am and sometimes I want to wear a sign that says, “No really, I am a contributing member of society, I’m just in a lull and well, I think if I can just secure a contract and…” but there’s never enough poster space and people aren’t interested in your “freelance” problems.
5.) Time spent trying to define my work distracted me from doing the very thing that made me pursue freelance in the first place – writing!
Stay tuned. As I journey into the full-time work search, I have already experienced jarring discoveries.