Often, you’ll find many freelancers are a creative lot.
They are drawn to freelancing because the idea of making a living on their own terms appeals, so they can free up more of their time for creative pursuits.
I know… I’m a pretty creative chick myself.
However, creative doesn’t always do the job of paying the bills. Sure it’s fun to take on that job that challenges your creativity and makes your heart sing. Except when it takes 3 weeks of your life, and doesn’t pay, it means you’re spending 3 weeks of your life on a project that is not growing your business.
Unfortunately that’s not the smartest move on the planet. Especially when you’ve got a family to support and bills to pay! I’m a huge fan of “Finding Your Zen” and “Following Your Heart”.
But I’m also a big fan of planning, marketable skills, and using what you’ve got to you utmost advantage. That means spending a bit of your time on “bread and buttah” style work, not just creative pursuits.
Freelancing Is Living On Your Terms… But It’s Also about Making a Living
Sure you might be a writer, looking to publish the next best selling vampire romance novel… that’s great! I adore vampire romances and feel we can never have too many.
But in the mean time, there is nothing wrong with you writing a few marketing brochures for that client offering to pay you $1500 dollars… or designing a website for the local mom and pop down the street that’s willing to pay you a hefty fee just so they don’t have to deal with it.
These types of projects, while not always “fun” or “creative” per se are the types of projects that will help you pay your bills, stock your fridge, and increase your marketability. And as a side bonus… keep your family from staging an intervention!
Why you ask?
Because unfortunately, it’s highly likely they think you gave up that cushy cubicle to park it on your couch and eat chocolate all day while growing armpit hair long enough to braid! Ugly, I know.
3 Indications You May Be Giving Your “Creative” Side Too Much Freedom
You hung out your shingle as a bonefide freelancer 6 months ago…
And in said 6 months you’ve earned precisely $2,286.48 cents. That translates to roughly $381.08 cents per month. Your share of monthly living expenses is approximately $1889.68 a month, leaving you with a massive monthly deficit of -$1508.60. Your kids are starving, your spouse is ready to file for divorce, and your family thinks you’re either crazy or “stuck in a funk”. Either way, the outlook is grim. But, you finally have time to paint that mural down the hallway wall you always dreamed of, so hey! Score!
When you hang out with your friends…
And rave about your new “freelancing career” and how much joy and satisfaction it brings you… their only response is to roll their eyes and ask if you have enough money to cover your share of the tab. Because the last 4 weeks running, they’ve all had to cover it for you, so just what good is all this freelancing doing for you exactly? To them it just looks like you’re too lazy to get a “real” job. (Here’s your sign!)
Whenever you receive a request for a quote from a new potential client…
The first question you ask yourself is “Does this project align with my creative vision?” If it doesn’t gel with your version of creative, you send it straight to the trash folder, and don’t even bother to respond. Or maybe you do and send them along to someone more “suited” for their project. Bottom line? You just passed on a paying gig in favor of a mythological gig that may or may not appear in the near future, that’s perfectly aligned with your “creative vision” of your career. And said mythological gig I should note may or may not actually pay you money. Freelance #FAIL.
3 Ways You Can Rein in the Creative and Focus Time on the “Bread and Buttah”
Find an accountability partner.
Someone successful with freelancing themselves, who has mastered the art of following their “Zen” and still feeding their family. They’ve figured out the balancing act, have a great head for business, and can be your voice of reason when needed. So the next time you’re tempted to turn down that cushy high dollar project writing white papers for “FlushWithCash Inc” in favor of the project from “CreativeZen Inc” that pays in peanuts and popcorn… They can quickly set you back on the right track and your family can breathe a sigh of relief and gratitude they’ll get to eat that month.
Create a “loose” business plan for your freelancing business.
Outline the types of projects that get your juices pumping, the types of projects that pay the bills that you’re a pro at doing, and figure out a good balancing act between the two. Figure out what you need to earn per project in order to live comfortably, and still have free time to devote to your artistic expression. This is not hard to do. Is it always fun? No. Do you sometimes have to take on projects you may not adore? Yes. But unless you prefer to go back to your old 9-5 ball and chain, I suggest you focus on what works, not just what’s fun. After all… freelancing is ultimately a business, not a hobby.
Focus your attention on learning all you can about marketing yourself and doing it well.
It’s been said, and in my book it’s worth singing from the roof tops… that if you learn how to market effectively, you can market just about anything! That includes yourself and your freelancing business, or even those cushy, rainbow colored toe-socks you like to secretly wear while working on your next masterpiece. (Ha… thought I didn’t know about those didn’t you?) Seriously though, marketing is a skill you can literally bank on for life… Learn to do it right and you’ll never lack for ways to earn a living.
There you have it… 3 signs you’re letting your creative but mildly flawed right-brain run the show, and 3 solutions to help old lefty there share the driver’s seat. So that ultimately, you can start earning money, rather than just talking about it. #Freelance Win!
So how about you? Are you focusing too much on the “fun” stuff and disregarding the stuff you may need to actually turn a profit? Are you making this entrepreneurial gig work for you? Or are you letting it work you, right back to the drawing board? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.
P.S. Don’t forget deadline for submitting to the blog carnival and popping the proverbial cherry (cripes isn’t that the crassest phrase ever? Love it!) is September 4th… just around the corner! I know you’ve got a killer post in you that deserves to be shared, so quit procrastinating. Oh and don’t forget to pick up your free guide “Rock the Shite Out of Your Sales”… and let everyone know what you think in the comments on the page too. 😉
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