How's it working out for me?
In some ways, it's been good. In others, not so much.
By the time this post goes up, it will have been over a week since I first typed out most of it. Since then I've been editing, sleeping on it, editing some more, sleeping on the new versions and debating both internally and externally about how much to put out there. When your professional life is on the Internet, it's important to filter what you say. I still believe that, but I also believe in being human and allowing myself a measured level of vulnerability.
A lot of bloggers have gone freelance lately in a variety of fields. Looking in from the outside, things look so hunky dory, and, to be honest, though I keep a smile on my face and look on the bright side, freelancing has been a less than rosy road. Lest anyone think freelancing is super-easy or that bloggers are super-humans, I'm throwing (some, not all) caution to the wind and letting you in on my true freelance experience so far.
So here goes. Let's start on a positive note.
- My flexible schedule has allowed me to take on some volunteer and pure pet projects, such as Dress for Success Miami (where I'm also on the board), more online writing and helping friends with their nonprofits. Though I don't get paid, this has exposed my work to new networks here in Miami, though I have yet to really foster those into business opportunities.
- Added one new client to my paid work (which also includes two ongoing contracts and a freelance editing client).
- My apartment is cleaner than ever.
- Fear. I am an introvert. I have major anxiety when it comes to new situations and putting myself out there. It used to be a paralyzing hide-in-a-hole-for-days/weeks/months and avoid-all-human-interaction kind of fear, but now it's a slightly watered down version of that. The computer is a great facade to hide behind. What has been most helpful in the past is having a few folks I trust as sounding boards, and I'm still building that group here in Miami.
- Lack of direction. What brings in most of my small freelance income (grants) is not what I was educated in or wanted as a career goal (magazine journalism) or what my resume shows as my strength (nonprofit communications). I truly enjoy all three of these fields, but I wonder whether I need to narrow my focus. And then there are the things I would love to do someday, like write a book or make things with my hands for a living. How should my profession and my passion relate to one another now and how will they in the future?
When I originally decided to freelance, I gave myself a timeline: one year and then it was decision time. Either commit to this freelance thing or get off my butt and go back to full-time work. My random indicator of "success" was going to be whether I could make 50% of my previous full-time income through freelance work (so far I'm at 21%) . I have no idea whether this is realistic or not (any freelancers remember how year one went?), so I may choose another indicator when the time comes. Since I started in August, I'm giving myself until this August (mid or late). Five months to go.
I may not be where I wanted to be at this point in freelancing. But I do know my biggest challenge: me. No one and nothing else is responsible for my lack of progress. I'm the only one that I can make any changes here. It's slightly depressing, but at the same time, completely empowering.
The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one, so this is my confession. And since I have yet to solidify a professional sounding board here in Miami, I hope you don't mind acting as one in the meantime.
Time to get to work.