Monday, 27 February 2012

Freelancer Learnings and TIRs #1 - Illness, fickle employers and peppermint creams.

I remember a time when I thought Ha! I'll never get writer's block!  Writer's block is for losers.  I can always think of things to write about - it's not rocket science!
I remember it so well.  It was a week ago last Monday.
Today, all I have done today is feel rather sorry for myself and eat some peppermint cream mixture from an enamel mug without even bothering to make it into little ovals.  I'm just eating it with a spoon.
Some of my lacklustre day can be attributed to my PCOS.  My goodness, my ovaries hurt earlier.  It doesn't put you in the best frame of mind for anything.
This brings us to my first theory-into-reality (TIR) moment of working for myself:

If you're ill, you can't work:

I couldn't work earlier because my pre-existing, hard-to-fix condition was hurting.  Dealing with PCOS is written about a lot and there are a lot of strategies but aside from having part of your reproductive system removed, you can't just mend it.  All you can really do is try not to get stressed and make sure you don't put on too much weight.
I took two types of painkillers, rubbed on an aromatherapy blend, used a hot water bottle, listened to some New Age-y electronic warbling on Youtube and made potato and cauliflower soup.  These things were nice and I felt better within about an hour.  I still didn't want to write very much thought.  I did write two blog-posts which means I am not allowed to beat myself up about today.  I still got something done today, even if it didn't fulfil all the plans I had.
I had really already experienced this on my second day of freelancing, when I promptly came down with a bad cough following a weekend of a stomach upset.  I lay there in bed, knackered and sweaty thinking Oh wow....I can't work...I can't earn money. Today is the day I'm supposed to be earning money...But I can't.

The other reason I didn't get much in the way of freelancer jobs done today is because I couldn't quite face it.

About two weeks ago, three people cancelled our work agreement within the space of a week.  One got their work done for free, the other said they used someone different because I didn't call on the Thursday despite our agreement that I would call on the Friday.   One just stopped responding.
I went from the wonderful feeling of safeness in knowing I had a substantial bit of money in the pipeline to a plummeting mixture of impotent fear, anger and frustration.  Great, there's my financial safety-net for the month gone, back to the breadline.

Your sense of self-worth can't come from external sources

I am now struggling to work because I allowed my sense of worth to rely on those two customers.  This cannot be allowed when you are freelancing.  Firstly, because situations like this happen and more importantly because it doesn't say much about your work.
What kind of person starts up self-employment if they aren't sure of their services and don't believe in themselves 100%?  You can't and you mustn't.  It will only end in tears (or hiding on the sofa reading William Gibson and eating peppermint cream mix out of a mug with a spoon).

I started this work because I am sure I am good at putting together words and I am sure I am an all-round marvellous type of lady who can guide and propel herself.  This week's blip was contributed to by something else that is both separate and related to my cancellation issues. I need to face up to marketing myself more strongly - I can't survive on anonymous, simple internet jobs.

It's time to sort out that marketing strategy

I haven't had any good feedback from my freelance proposals over the last couple of weeks.  I'm not sure why.  It's forcing me to consider two things; why do some of my freelance proposals succeed when others fail and when am I going to start marketing properly?  Online bids and proposals have done me alright for the past couple of months but it's barely generating enough money.  I need to find out what language works best for online proposals and do an email campaign.  I also need to spend some money to get a brand guideline, print some leaflets and do some proper real-life marketing.

I think I'll go for the email campaign step at a time, eh?

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