What Elle Woods Taught Me about Freelancing

reeseI have a secret to tell you: I look up to Elle Woods.

Although it may not seem that I have much in common with a Malibu Barbie-esque sorority girl, I immediately fell in love with the Legally Blonde character. I’ve seen the movies, I’ve read the book, and I’ve even seen the musical. In fact, when I really, really need to work, I queue up the soundtrack from the music on my computer. (Don’t judge me.) And when facing a busy, challenging day, I’m not above telling my friends “I’m about to go Elle Woods on day.”

I’ll be the first to admit the storylines are cheesy and that it wasn’t Reese Witherspoon’s best work. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t found a little inspiration for my freelance career through Elle Woods:

You’d be surprised at how far a smile and determination get you.

In real life, someone with a 4.0 in Fashion Merchandising and four years of sorority style hijinks does not decide to go to Harvard Law School at the last second and get in. But instead of listening to people tell her what she couldn’t do, Elle just did it. And I took the same stance when my parents kept asking me if I was going on job interviews the first year of my freelancing career.

Stand out.

Elle Woods has pink, scented resumes. Stacked together with all those other resumes from lawyers, it must have been like shouting in a library. But standing out is the best way to make waves and be noticed. The alternative is being lumped in with everybody else. Some of the things you see here on my blog and website aren’t in line with the laws that the experts dispense. That’s okay. I’m doing this my way. And at least you’ll be able to see me when I’m standing in a crowd of others doing it the other way because they read a book that said they should.

Be Yourself.

If you were ditzy sorority girl who had finagled your way into Harvard law, you’d probably try to play that down to fit in. But what does fitting in get you? It gets you overlooked. Who you are is the little something you bring to the table that no one else can. Use it to your advantage. When I look at my most popular posts on this blog, they are all about me. There’s a reason for that. People respond when you’re at your most authentic.

There’s always a mean girl.

Or a mean blogger. Or a mean tweeter. Or a mean client. The Internet makes it easy to be meaner than you’d be in real life. Elle always handled her mean girls with grace. No matter what they said or did, she didn’t let it get to her. I don’t either. For every mean tweet I get or rude response I get while commenting, I just realize that those people probably aren’t as awesome as I am. And that can’t be that easy to live with, can it?

Take your dog everywhere you go.

Bruiser the gay Chihuahua is Elle’s constant companion. In fact, the second movie’s premise is built around Elle quitting her job as a high powered lawyer because her company used animal testing on Bruiser’s mother. As her loyal supporter, Bruiser gets a special place in the book and movies because he’s always been there for Elle. I feel the same way about my little gang of freelancers. When I’m having a bad day or need a little help, I can always send out smoke signals via email, Twitter or Gchat. And I’d do the same for them if they needed it.  (Ok, maybe this lesson should have been called Relationships are important. Whatever.)

Negativity is for ugly people.

Or untalented people. Or lazy people. Or people with nothing going for them. Because those are the people who can expect everything to go wrong every day. Those are the people who have nothing to smile about or nothing to look forward to. People like you, me, and Elle don’t have those types of worries. So it’s easier to get up with positive outlook every morning.

Sometimes you’re gonna show up to the party dressed like a Playboy Bunny and look like an idiot.

We get embarrassed, suffer setbacks, or have our feelings hurt. But you have to get up and get back on the horse. If Elle had left school that day, she would have never realized that the actual prize was not her ex-boyfriend. I’ve had my embarrassing and disappointing moments, too. But I’m still here. I’ve survived every mistake and misstep I’ve ever made, and you will too.

So the cat’s out of the bag. Elle Woods inspires me to freelance. What fictional character does the same for you?

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Princess Jones

Princess Jones is the mad scientist behind Diary of a Mad Freelancer. For more talk about freelancing, writing, and selling yourself for a living, follow her on Twitter.

Latest posts by Princess Jones (see all)


  1. Oh thank God. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who LOVES that movie and blasts the opening song by Hoku on her iPod.

    • Oh yes, I am very familiar with Perfect Day. Have you seen The House Bunny? That's another good movie to watch when you're feeling down in the dumps and needs some if-she-can-do-it-so-can-I inspiration.

  2. You know what, P.S. –or may I call you Princess? ;0)– you just made my day!
    I adore your writing style and your wit. And your outlook.
    And, alas, the lesson(s) for me here are:
    While I seem to stand out in person, online, I pretty much feel like a nobody.
    I know, no negativity! My fault; no one else's.
    But, why?! Because I'm not true to myself online. I'm a very smart, capable, opinionated–with research to back it up :) — person who reach people in their own "language."
    I'm just waayyy too "quiet" online.
    As for #1 above: I am determined–that's for sure. Just gotta get comfortable tooting my own horn a little bit. Not comfortable for me at all.
    So thanks for the inspiration on a Monday morning!
    Great week to ya!!
    My recent post New Site Up and Almost Running

      • Hey you're welcome for the inspiration and I hope you have a very Elle Woods day yourself. :-)

  3. Legally Blonde is a seriously underrated movie. It's actually one of my favorite of Reese's roles, because I think it takes talent to play dumb with an underlying layer of smarts. Her character is so much more than she appears, and it could've been very easy for someone to play her as a more 2-dimensional caricature instead of a 3-dimensional person.

  4. Okay for some reason the rest of my really long comment got cut off:

    But enough of my movie commentary 😉 My favorite quote is when she says: "What? Like it's hard?" in response to the ex asking her: "YOU got into Harvard law?" There's a great lesson there. Wasting energy and thoughts on how challenging something is only takes away from the energy you could be using to just do it. I'm constantly reminding myself of this when I'm stressed or worried about a deadline, or a new project, etc. I think, "Okay. Being nervous isn't going to achieve anything, and you know you're not going to let yourself screw this up, so just let go of the negativity and get to it."

    My recent post Confessions of an Online Idol Worshipper

    • Oh that's one of my favorite parts too! And also the part where she goes to the trailer to the get Paulette's dog back. That was cute too.

  5. Love, love, love this post! So much great insight. Definitely bookmarking it for future inspiration. Thank you :)

  6. Great piece! I like your mindset. I'm at the beginner level of freelancing, so I can definitely relate to a parent asking if you've been searching for any full-time jobs lately. And I think the battle to simply be ourselves because we're already pretty freakin' great is a lifelong struggle. Sadly, there's always someone standing at the ready trying to convince you to conform. It takes a lot of courage to say, "No. I am the person I'm meant to be."
    My recent post Out at the 2010 Indy LGBT Film Festival

  7. I also like that movie and watch it every time it appears.
    Glinda, the Good Witch has long been my role model.. Calm under pressure, serene always positive.
    You've given me a great idea for my next post and my weekly question at Delicacies.wordpress.com on Weds.!!!
    My recent post Self-Revelation and NaNoWriMo

  8. Thank-you. I enjoy inspiration from unusual sources. Wonderful point of view. I do a blog on productivity and energy… would love to repost this as a guest piece with all the appropriate attributions and kudos. Let me know if you're into it.

    "Your Productivity Sucks" http://www.dawngroves.com/blog/

    • Honestly, I'd rather you didn't for SEO reasons. But I have no problem with you writing how you feel about my post and publishing an excerpt with a link back here. Or hey, why not do a blog swap with me? Inbox me if you're interested.

  9. You are awesome! Elle Woods is too, of course. Thanks for the fun post.

    • I'm not as awesome as Elle Woods, but then again, who is?



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