Today, I want to talk about freelancing. Not any particular line of work but the subject in general. Freelancing has enjoyed something of an uptrend lately; Lots of people were doing it before of course, but I suspect there are a lot more people doing it right now, partly out of necessity. For some, it may be how food gets on the table.
I’ve been fortunate to get a few gigs here and there, and things are working out. Did I wish I had a steady gig? Yeah. Do I wish I had, oh, I dunno, something with benefits? DUH. Am I just a little bit nervous that the Apocalypse is going to happen in a couple of weeks and it’s all going to hit the fan? OH YEAH, TRUST. But right now is right now, and that’s what I need to keep a focus on. I hit the job boards every day and fill out a gang of applications, and then I hit Upwork and submit some proposals. Upwork, for the uninitiated, is a freelance job board where people post what they need, and you can submit a proposal to fill that job. If they select you, you have the gig and you get to work. With any luck, you get paid.
I find myself wondering about the folks that are dipping their toe in these waters for the first time because I know how frustrating it was for me to pitch and pitch and pitch…and hear crickets. Contrary to popular belief, the worst thing you can hear isn’t “No”, it’s hearing nothing.
I am not going to lie to you, it took what seemed like forever to get my first yes, and before that first yes was a number of bites on the hook that I couldn’t reel in, but for me, the real frustration was in hearing nothing at all. Not a yes, no, hi, boo, f you…not a thing. If I’m being honest, I have to tell you that I found it hard not to take it personally. Until I didn’t.
The reality check is that nobody owes you anything when it comes to this. They’re — hopefully — paying decent money for the result they want, and if they decide you’re not for them there’s nothing that says they have to contact you to say “Thanks, but no.” it would be NICE, but they don’t have to do it. Once I got over that hill, it became not only easier to hear nothing, but hearing “No” became easier, and of course “Yes” is just THE BEST EVER.
But let’s get back to the crickets for a second. It’s a buzzkill, for sure, and that’s where Mo comes along. It’s hard to keep going when you’re not getting anything, but that’s just momentum working against you. The overused cliche is running uphill, but it’s the most appropriate. You’ve got to spend that extra energy and dedication to keep swinging. Keep Pitching. Keep saying to the world “I can make this for you”, realize that you’re going to have to take no and no-thing for an answer until that first person says “Yes”, and then the most amazing thing will happen. YOu’ll be able to show the world that one person said yes, and you’ll be able to show the world what you did with that yes, and someone will see that and add another yes to your pile. That’s when Mo comes around and starts working for you. Yes means results, and results attract more Yes.
Now, I know that this sounds oversimplified, and honestly, it is. But it has the benefit of actually being true! Ask any best selling writer you can think of, and I’m sure they’ll be able to tell you some of the most hilarious and mind-boggling rejection stories prior to that one moment that changed their lives. How many actors and actresses, how many songwriters and musicians, how many artists were told they didn’t have what it took, and that they’d never make it until they did.
We are on that same road, you and I. We’re on the highway to that town we’ll never work in again until we find there’s a house with our name on the door.