THE CONSTANT UP-AND-DOWN LIFESTYLE EVERY FREELANCER FACES
Freelance work can be as rewarding as it can be challenging. It has the highs of completed work and satisfaction in what you’re doing mixed with the uncertainty of not knowing what will come next. These are the steps that everybody who has dedicated a particular stage of — or an entirety of — a career to freelance work has experienced.
As a freelance worker, the one constant in your life is the refresh capability on a computer. The swiftest motion your left hand has ever learned how to make is the one-two punch of Command+R … or whatever archaic key command PC users are out there fumbling through. As a freelance worker, you convince yourself that when you click refresh, by the time the page loads that long sought-after email may finally come in with your next project or approved idea.
#2. Will more work ever come in?
Continuing from step #1, you have to wonder if in fact anymore work will ever come in. Will clicking that refresh key command do the trick? Will you stay sane long enough to wait it out for that next big batch of work to come in? This step isn’t the most productive in the freelance lifestyle, but it is an inevitable one. You come to it, it feels like a brick wall, and you aren’t sure whether to climb over it or bang your head against it, hoping to break through to the other side.
#3. “Do I have enough money to make until my next project comes in?”
Next, you’ll start to ponder your bank account. If no more work comes in, how long can you last? Where will that next dollar come from? Why on Earth did you eat out for lunch when you didn’t know if you had more projects lined up?! You should’ve clicked refresh before buying that burger …
#4. Refresh again (pretending you hadn’t already)
Well, now’s as good of a time as ever to refresh the email, the LinkedIn, the various chat services you might be hooked into through the companies that contract you. Did you miss any notifications? (You already know you didn’t.) Is there any new work to be had? (Crossing your fingers this doesn’t coincide with the former question, which it does.) You just have to tell yourself things are going to be alright …
#5. Lie to yourself and pretend you’re not worried that things might not turn around
No need to panic. No need to jump to any conclusions. Things will be fine — at least it’s best to tell yourself that at this point. You’ve ridden it out like this before. More work will come in. It always does. But just in case, maybe you should …
#6. Scour Internet job boards hoping to land something more full-time and consistent
Just take a quick peek at a few companies you wouldn’t mind working for to see if they have any openings, or even at the companies that you currently contract under to see if they may be hiring. It wouldn’t hurt to have a backup plan if things do end up going awry. Maybe draft a couple emails to prospective employers. Then remember you’ve been down this path before.
#7. It’s time to tinker around with some ideas in your head just to stay fresh in case something comes in
Instead of frivolously applying to desk jobs, you remember that this sort of thing always happens. Outline an article if you’re a writer or draft a pitch to a company with the type work you can do. Stay on your game, because this is the lifestyle you’ve chosen, and there’s no need to back away from it now. You know what you need to do …
#8. Refresh one final time
This is when you’ll see that you’ve finally got a plethora of projects on your hands now. It’s a miracle! You were ready to throw in the towel and start going through the painstaking process of cover letters and resumes, but look at you now: a working adult once more, with more than enough to keep themselves busy and monetarily valued in the workforce.
#9. Momentarily celebrate the fact that you are once again employed
Hooray! You’ve done it, and things couldn’t be better. Your smile is bigger than ever, and you forget all the worries you had earlier in this process. Getting all worked up was useless, because you knew at some point that refresh keystroke was going to save the day.
#10. Momentarily freak out about the workload staring you in the face … “Can I handle all this work?”
But now you must realize you’ve taken on a bevy of tasks and have deadlines to meet. Can you in fact handle all this work? There is only one way to find out …
#11. Multitask continually and pull long hours to complete the pile of projects you possess
You signed up for all this, and you also realize that pulling all these things together is the equivalent of an actual salaried job, so you have to buck up and do them all — whatever it takes. You had plenty of down time with all your refresher sessions, so now it’s time to strap in and get things done.
#12. Once completed, feel proud of the work you’ve done
If it was writing, you may go back and continually check in on it in its Internet locale. Maybe read the comments. If you’re a designer, see how it looks in real time, wherever it may be. Rejoice in the fact that you have been paid to once again do the thing you love to do. You weren’t sure if more projects would ever come in, and now you’ve done another round of high-quality and pride-worthy work.
#13. Brag to friends when they complain about their jobs that you have freedom in your workflow with less stress than a typical office setting
Even though you know how stressful those multiple refreshing sessions were, it’s fun to remind people you get to work from home and claim it’s stress free. They theoretically are stressed at work and long to be at home — you are lucky enough to have at least eliminated one of those things.
#14. Return to step #1 …
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