When you’re not actively doing work for a client, be working on something of your own.  Something you want to build just because you want to.  Write some software, amass a collection, do a book, build some design templates, take pictures of ice crystals.  Whatever you’re passionate about.

Good example:

As a day job, freelancer Bill Milbrodt writes music and designs soundtracks for TV commercials and videos.  Does very well at it.  He  even won an Emmy along the way.

But some time back, just for the heck of it, he took apart his battered old Honda, made musical instruments out of the pieces, wrote a suite of music for them, and gathered some adventurous musicians to play it all.  1282964776_l

Whenever he got the chance, took his Car Music Project on the road, performing at every festival and venue that invited him, including a gig this August at Lincoln Center Outdoors in New York City.

That’s were he caught the attention of a big London film production company that is creating commercials for an auto company.  Bill landed a very juicy contract to build an ensemble of instruments out their client’s car for a big-budget, high-profile commercial.

Good money, invaluable exposure, a world of new contacts, and a dazzling new item on the resume.  Just for doing something he felt like doing.  (He also worked his ass off, mind you.)

The lesson.

Apply your skill or craft to a project of your own.  Work it.  Finish it.  It will pay off, but very likely in a way you never expect.  And it’s good for the soul, too.