The Freelancery is for everyone who steers his own ship. Or wants to.
Whether you’re freelancing because of a genetic predisposition (like me), or because you couldn’t stand your job (me, again), because you felt the tug of freedom . . . or because the economy or company crap pushed you into freelancing.
Here, you’ll find ideas, tools and know-how that will help you thrive and prosper, and keep your wits about you. (And do some amazing stuff.) Most of it is free. Some is for purchase.
It’s about the things most freelancers wrestle with. Money. Pricing. Finessing clients. Finding clients. Staying sane. Branching out. Kicking ass.
All of it comes from the front lines. From the smartest freelancers I could find. From dumb-ass mistakes I’ve made. From ideas I swiped from lawyers, building contractors, organ grinders and donut peddlers.
Who is this guy, anyway?
Just so you know whereof I speak.
I’m a writer by trade. A freelancer by nature.
In my entire adult life I’ve held only two jobs for a grand total of 27 months. The rest of the time I plied my trade independently, under my own flag. No boss, no job. Often without a clue. See waltkania.com.
And no, I never went broke. In 23 years, I never missed a mortgage payment. (I say that only because those are the biggest fears of would-be freelancers: homelessness and starvation.)
I live in suburbia alongside folks who ride the trains to company jobs in New York City. Many of them make more money than me. Some make less. I don’t envy them, and they probably don’t envy me. But I quit caring about such things ages ago.
The freelance life
My circle of friends includes a freelance composer, a freelance video producer, a freelance builder, a freelance IT specialist, a few freelance writers, a freelance project manager, a freelance attorney, a freelance graphic designer, as well as other freelancers I know via email. We commiserate, we swap war stories, we all bitch, we egg each other on.
But none of us ever thinks of getting a job. Ever.
I get along fine with my corporately-employed friends, but I don’t connect with them as I do with other freelancers. We renegades understand each other without having to explain ourselves.
I admit, in the land of cubicles I would be hopeless. I never learned how to build alliances, work the organization, jockey for position, cover my ass. If I took a company job tomorrow (shudder), any rookie corporate gamer could step over me as if I were dirty laundry. I’d be low drone on the totem pole within a week.
But in the open market, out in the fields and streams, I’m on my turf.
We freelancers are equipped to go out in the world, armed only with our wits, and come back with checks. Over and over again. All without hitching up to an employer, without signing on.
Ever hate a boss? A job?
I first tasted the freelance life at age 19. A friend and I were slogging away at a summer job, stacking truckloads of blue jeans in a basement stockroom for hours on end. One afternoon, fueled by misery and hubris, we half-baked a plan for striking out on our own. We spent the day psyching ourselves into it.
The next morning we quit, with fanfare, then ponied up ten dollars each for a homemade ad in the local paper. “Two ambitious college students will paint your house, mow your lawn, tote your bales. . .”
We spent that glorious summer working out of a battered VW bus, trimming hedges, cleaning gutters, hacking weeds, humping sofas up staircases, and worse.
Some days we worked our asses off. Occasionally, we spent the day sitting in the shade smoking cigarettes.
But we were masters of our own fates, and always had a wad of cash in our back pockets.
Oddly enough, the lessons we learned that first summer still apply:
- Confidence counts as much as competence. Or more.
- There is money in pleasing clients
- Always show up
- You get paid for finishing, not starting.
Anyway, everything you read here is straight from the front lines.
And it applies whether you’re a photographer, shepherd, programmer, preacher, designer, roofer, or babysitter.