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Back to the Proposal Grind

I know I should be treating freelancing as a second job, working 10-20hrs per week to make ends meet. But I admit I forget about that a lot. It’s time once again to make that better.

My husband recently fell near his work and has been unable to work regular hours for the past month. Luckily, his workplace is covering him for much of the work time lost and subsequent surgery. However, January has been slow enough that my position is a drain on the store where I work. I have to drop to part time at best. I’m not complaining. It’s not my employer’s fault that January is slow. It simply renews the need to find bigger and better things for myself.

So I’ve been applying to jobs and spitting out proposals to the freelance winds. Mostly it comes back and splatters in my face. C’est la vie! I am proud of myself for taking it in stride and learning from past mistakes that it’s not personal. It takes a while to get established. I came late to the game somewhat and that’s my own cross to bear.

I love designing and I keep being a creative person no matter where I go from here.

Take it easy and remember to smile.

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Holding Two Jobs

Anyone who has had to work two jobs knows it’s unpleasant unless it’s 2 strictly part time jobs. I, of course, don’t fall into that category. I don’t even get paid time off since I’m an independent contractor and self-employed. There’s a real freedom to that. 

There’s also the problem that I don’t make nearly as much as I used to in a corporate job. I’m not complaining here. It is what it is. Having to be full time is a time-sink that doesn’t, yet, pay enough for the long run. I think that will get better soon. I also think I need to stop crashing at the end of the day and do design work! I feel awful about it. No more! Starting next week I take it seriously. I start treating my own freelancing as a second job that needs part-time dedication, at least 10 hours per week. 

This is it! Do or die! There is no try, only do! Where’s that from? Anyway, I’m still determined to get myself established in the freelancing world. I’ve been submitting proposals, at least one every couple of days. I can show that I’m actively trying. What I need to do is still look up a contest or two in the meantime to work on. That gets me practice even if I never win. 

Red. Yellow. Green. GO!

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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The Spaghetti Toss

Okay, what am I doing writing about food? It’s not real food, of course. I’m talking about the “throw spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks” technique of problem-solving. I’m not throwing spaghetti because I want to. I can’t control whether clients respond to my proposals. It’s rough calling them proposals too.

When I write my proposals I think about 4 things:introduce

  1. introduce myself and make a statement so the client knows I read their brief
  2. describe an idea I have for their project
  3. explain my work hours
  4. what images I’ll include with the proposal (a cool feature at Upwork.com)

My proposals are rarely more than a few sentences. Sometimes, I skip item 2 and tell them that I’ve included a sketch. As I said previously, I started including sketches with my proposals. Sometimes item 2 is replaced by a list of questions I have about the project. Many clients don’t include basic information such as what their business does, what they want the project to convey to customers, or the form and colors of the project preferred. It’s on me to ask those questions!

Let me get back to the spaghetti throwing. I’m basically applying for everything worth more than $30. I want to maximize my potential of finding clients. At this point, clients are not knocking on my door; I have to go to them. I don’t yet understand the type of client I should be targeting. Until that day comes, I will apply to everything and see what comes back.

This sucks.

This is the downside of freelancing. The work comes and goes in spurts. The idea, ultimately, is for the income to average out over the course of the year. The challenge is to manage money in savings to average out the money available at any given time. That’s usually what kills freelancers who are just starting: bad clients who don’t pay and spending it all at the moment of income.

I have a leg up because I came to the freelance market late in the game. There are services like Upwork.com to manage the bad clients for me. They guarantee I’ll get paid and act as a middle man so I’m never one on one alone without help.  If the job is a fixed amount – not hourly, – then Upwork requires the client to deposit the funds ahead of time before the work can begin. This guarantees I will get paid as long as I use Upwork’s time tracker to prove I did the work.

I wish I had understood all of this in college. I never would have wasted over 9 years of my life in a job that wasn’t what I wanted to do. C’est la vie, mes amis!