Monday, September 08, 2008

Wearing all the hats.

It’s been a while since I have written an entry.
When you freelance, not being busy means that you have to REALLY keep busy.
Going into my second year working on my own full-time, I have learned that this way of working in the business has many ups and downs. Truthfully, it really isn’t for everybody.
If you aren’t one to pick up the phone, or work extremely hard at marketing yourself (and convincing people to use your services), your chance of success is extremely limited.

I love being really swamped with work. Creatively speaking that is.
The secret to freelancing is to constantly have projects lined up.
I have learned not to wait for projects to come in and I have no choice but to go out and get them.
This involves a load of prep work that usually (being a creative leaving an agency environment) I have never experienced before.
For a while, I had nothing coming in. I had a few little projects keeping me busy but the horizon was empty. I spent 3 long months compiling mailing lists, putting together my new website, making calls, going to networking events etc.
Thankfully, a valuable inside source told me that agencies were trimming down their creative departments this year so I concentrated all my efforts for a few weeks towards calling and getting in touch with agencies.
This paid off. In February, I worked for 3 different ad agencies. 2 as an Art Director and one as a Copywriter. I have learned over the years that freelancing for agencies is great for two reasons. One, they have the workload and two, I don’t have to quote them on a price. They typically tell me what I will be paid for the project. The downside to working for agencies as a freelancer is that you will be paid around 60 days later and often, you will have to place a phone call to enquire about the status of your paycheque. You also can't promote the work as yours (most of the time) and getting copies for your portfolio is not easy (see my blog entry "The Ghost" for more on this).

Anyway, 3 months of business development (which I have absolutely hated) is finally paying off. I have several future projects lined up, agencies using me as well, but there are still some weeks that are empty. If you need that steady paycheque every two weeks, or you don’t want to spend 3 days on the phone or answering emails and writing proposals, this side of the business is definitely not for you.

Yesterday, I learned that I won a gold and a silver trophy in the 2008 Summit International Creative awards. I’m thrilled.
However, as I have just pointed out, there is nobody besides myself to do all the work that this now involves. I have pushed all my creative projects aside for the next day or two and will now spend my time writing press releases for the industry publications, updating my website's “latest news”, my resume (for agencies), including the win on all of my company literature, creating an email blast to send out and then, erasing all the outdated email addresses that bounce back to me. Not fun stuff. But necessary if I wish to make the most of it.
Meanwhile, I have a bunch of ideas bouncing around for a project I’m working on that I would love to put on paper. It will have to wait. When you wear all the hats, being creative ends up becoming only a portion of the weekly schedule. Something I am learning is the reality of being a freelancer.

Until next time. Keep dreaming.

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