Freelancaversary 2013–What I Learned

So it’s my freelancaversary and I have to admit that feels good to be still here pounding the pavement and collecting checks about 12 years after I sold my first freelance piece. (Whoa, don’t get too excited there. I’ve only been freelancing full-time for something like six years.)

This year has been tough. (Seriously, I say that every year. But it’s always true. I guess the life of a freelancer is just tough, huh?) But as usual, I learned some stuff about myself and my career.

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The Worst Thing That Could Happen Isn’t So Bad

I’ve heard of all sorts of freelancers getting to the point where they had to take a job and usually that’s met with a lot of criticism. Either they’re traitors for going back to the establishment or they should have planned better. Oh and the scent of failure is always in there, too.

This year saw me take a part-time job to make sure my money didn’t get funny. I’m still there (albeit about once a week at this point) because the money is great and I genuinely like the people I get to be around when I’m there. No matter how many articles you read, you never really realize just how much freelancing isolates you until you see new people every single day.

Not only that, I turned them into a paying freelance client and pulled several other clients from my work there. So yeah, it wasn’t that bad at all. And the fact is that my finances have been looking great for a while now. But I haven’t given up the “paper route” because it still serves a purpose. When it doesn’t, I will.

New York is Full of Freelancers

I’m still in New York. (I’ll just let that settle in for a moment.)

I think I’m hitting my stride here though. I know people to hang with. My apartment feels like home to me. I don’t browse apartment ads in Chicago anymore. I’m even planning a spring trip there next year and the odds that I won’t come back are very, very low. Progress!!

And New York is full of freelancers. I don’t know why. It’s the worst place you could live and freelance. With living expenses so high, I can’t imagine how much pressure some of these other freelancers feel each month. Thank the heavens I live in an unfashionable part of Queens with someone I can share rent with–I mean, Hubs, of course.

But there are also lots of resources for us here. Coworking spaces, collaborative organizations and the Freelancers Union are all here. So I’ve found some resources and people who I can lean on when the going gets tough. . . For however long I will continue to live here.

Sometimes You Have to Take Time Off.

One of the developments this year is that I haven’t been writing as much on DMF as I have in the past. Part of that is being busy. I still working with clients and managing some websites. I’m also writing fiction now. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to figure out something to write for this place.

But there’s also the echo chamber of freelancing. I don’t want to write the same thing over and over as someone else who is writing over and over. Sometimes I think to myself What else can I say about this subject that hasn’t been said a million times already? Too often the answer is depressing. And that kept me away from the site for a while.

But fortunately, I found a second wind and a few things I’d like to talk about. So I’ll be back here more often and with new stuff. I’m also going to schedule some more Group Therapy chats. Maybe even a few in-person ones are coming in the future. I don’t think I could do that if I hadn’t taken a break in the first place.

My Business is Continually Evolving

My vision of my business six years ago is so different than what I have right now. That’s not a bad thing. I had a really limiting view of what I could do and who I could do it for back then. Now, I’m trying so many more things. The work, the style, the focus, the money–it’s all better than it was back then.

I know now that I can’t expect things to stay the same. Once again, things will evolve as I move forward. I’m just happy that I’m still here doing my thing and that I get to share it with you here.

What about you? How many years have you been freelancing and what has your year taught 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.

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8 Comments

  1. Great to have an update, Princess. I agree that each year is tough – it has been that way for me since about 2001. We put up with it for a variety of reasons – mostly because it just suits us. But I always keep an open mind about full- or part-time jobs. If we are flexible enough to freelance, we are flexible enough to take a serious look at a good “regular” job opportunity when it presents itself, too.
    Claire Wagner recently posted..So Long, Feedburner – Please Resubscribe

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      • Do you have a link to the article? I would like to read it.

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  2. I was so happy to see the little “updated” icon in my RSS feed, P.S. Congrats on the milestone!

    I started freelancing in 1999, full time right out of the box, with a stay-at-home wife and two toddlers. So I had to get cranking in a hurry. Over the course of that journey, I’ve seen my share of ups and downs, but far more of the former than the latter.

    Not sure if I have any Big Lessons from the year…more like a lot of reminders of the importance of diversification. I had one major client disappear (and while I miss the money, I don’t miss the headaches), and had a few other stalwarts dwindle away (one company got bought, another hired a FT staffer to do all their writing). On the other hand, I had a couple of clients grow beyond my expectations, and the dead “major” spun off into an opportunity to work with one of my fellow freelancers on some much more pleasant ventures. So it goes!
    Jake Poinier recently posted..4 basic questions a freelancer always needs to answer

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    • Isn’t it funny how the clients you don’t expect much from sometimes turn out to make a big impact on your bottom line?

      Expect more from me here in the future, Jake. I have no idea what schedule I’ll be posting on though.

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  3. First, congratulations on your Freelancaversary! Twelve years, now that’s amazing. I’m in my fifth year and last year was tough for me too. I learned that I need multiple stream of incomes, which may take some time to set up. I also force myself to take a break at the end of 2012, I was just too overwhelmed, over worked and under paid (mostly my fault for that). I did pick up some steady income but don’t know how long that will last. From past experience, I have already started putting other plans into motion just in case.
    Artiatesia recently posted..Cooking Up Fresh Things: The Update

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