There is something to be said about this line of creative work: the opportunity to work on stranger things is far greater. For me, it's mammoths and sloths. One current client has a tremendously in depth project for which the end result is for a great cause. I've spent entire ten hour work days doing nothing but this project. Agonizing about every minute detail and trying to find ways to push it even further. Sleep has taken something of a backseat to my daily routine. And I couldn't be happier right now.
My client is the non-profit Friends of Big Bone. I've worked with the organization before on much smaller projects over the years until recently. Last November, they asked me if I would help them create a fundraising campaign for Big Bone Lick State Historic Site. I'll be honest, I've never done something on this scale solo but I was up for the challenge. It has since become something much larger than any of us closely involved could have imagined it to be. What makes it all worth it is the people I get to work with and for on this. Their passion for this campaign has been relentless and they're all volunteering their skills and resources to help out. I have much more time to dedicate to the project, so more often I'm building everything while the blocks I can't create are given to me when available from others. It can be frustrating, but I can no longer see myself where I was just a few months ago.
Breaking the final ties to an office environment was the hardest, but the greatest, choice I've made in my career. It removed the close fitting walls of what I was allowed to work on and has launched me into the deep space of possibilities. This project has been the driving force to keep up my optimism about my decision. I'm doing much more than designing a logo or a few print pieces, I'm doing just about everything that will be face-forward when the Indiegogo campaign launches on April 15th. I've learned just how demanding and time consuming doing social media really is. There was no class that prepared me for something quite so... OK I'll just say it... mammoth! Especially when working solo for about 90% of the time. Obviously I'm not working alone, but once content is handed to me, I have to weave it all together.
There are steps that I've commonly done that here I've bypassed completely for the sake of time. It's best to recognize what I'm skipping so I can look back where, more like if, things start to get shaky. School can only teach you different approaches and practices to start and generate the end products. Real life is quite different. The sleepless nights, extended meetings, massive pitfalls, all are still present but the consequences are much more dire with real world clients.
For now, I'm ecstatic that Friends of Big Bone gave me this opportunity to do something great with them. I want them to succeed just as much as they do with this campaign. Their drive and enthusiasm for their cause is something to admire and be seen as an example. Now it's back to work for me!
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Let's bust some commonly mistaken ideas about freelancers and the nature of their jobs. These are issues I've heard brought up to me and other individuals that work for themselves in the service industry. I can't speak for people who sell items rather than a service, but I'm sure some of these myths will overlap for them too.
All freelancers work typical 40 hours a week and all the bills are paid by their projects. This is a complete myth. Well, for the most part.
Freelancing, especially when starting out, is a tough gig to maintain. When one project is done, there is no promise there is another lined up to take its place. Sometimes projects overlap and one ends before the other. But for the most part, freelancers jump from job to job. And there's also the issue of getting paid. Projects that are quick and simple don't pay nearly as much as long term ones. So how does a freelancer manage the money gaps? They take a second job.
Yes, freelancers work other jobs to compensate their income. And this is perfectly normal. There are things they can do to relieve the strain on their money woes: downsizing belongings and/or living space, making a budget of their personal expenses, cutting back on unnecessary items, have a savings set aside for this specific issue, etc. When I've had a dry spell in projects I cut back a lot on my entertainment budget. Being the coldest time of the year makes this easier to do, as there is less to do outdoors. If cutting back wasn't enough, I've pounded the pavement in search of part-time work.
There is no shame in doing additional work to help pay the bills, even if it has nothing to do with your freelance work. Keeping perspective about your freelance goals is tough to face and be honest that it isn't generating the income needed. Dry spells happen and being ready for them will help you get past them and back to business when things pick up again. It doesn't mean you're a failure as a freelancer. Being adaptable to the changes that come along, that is what makes you successful.
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