Freelancing For Dummies

People will pay for the weirdest shit, and I’m not even talking about that one chick on TikTok who sells weird things like her used IUD. Or a former friend of mine who sold a picture of her tonsils to a guy on the internet for $30.

I’m talking about things like bot followers on Instagram or “life coaches”. You’re probably tired of hearing me bitch about that alleged vocation but I can’t help it. Why are you paying a 20-year-old with a trust fund $500 a month to give you life advice that they probably just regurgitated from one of Brene Brown’s bullshit books? It would be cheaper to just read those books yourself and furthermore, if that’s where the life advice is coming from then Barnes and Noble or Amazon can be your life coach.

Actually, support indie bookstores. Thank you.

I’m getting off track. The point is people pay for weird shit. And this is our gig economy. No credentials. No experience. Just tonsils and life advice from someone whose mom pays their phone bill. But guess what? It turns out that I’m a part of the very thing I mock (minus the tonsils and IUD and bamboozling people), and I’ve been trying to be a part of it since I was old enough to work (legally).

It all began when, at 16, I had aspirations of becoming a famous singer and making millions believing that if Britney Spears and Mandy Moore could do it, so could I. So I sent out hand-written essays to a bunch of record companies but when 2 weeks went by without a response (I can’t imagine why), my parents threw in the towel and made me get a job. Shitty stage parents if you ask me.

I worked for the local movie theater and then as a telemarketer before deciding that I needed a job that didn’t require my presence. That’s right. I was trying to freelance before it was a thing #trendsetter. I began looking in the paper for jobs that I could do from home.

*Side note: We did not have social media or Indeed back then and posing as an “expert on living” hadn’t been invented yet.

Anyway, I ended up finding a WFH job: selling Mary Kay make-up. Yes, kids. Younique didn’t invent that. Mary Kay and Avon did. The problem was it was door-to-door sales. None of this harassing people on Facebook and Instagram, NO. You had to do it in person. Like actually get off your IKEA sofa, put something other than yoga pants on, and go door-to-door, business-to-business and talk to people. TALK TO PEOPLE. IN PERSON. I barely like getting texts much less talking to someone. It didn’t work out.

The next want ad I came across was for a job stuffing envelopes. Perfect! All I needed was $399 and I was in. The problem was I did not have $399 and getting a job to pay for an envelope stuffing job seemed counterproductive. There was only one choice left: I had to own my own business.

20 years later I did just that. I’m fucking terrible at it. I started doing freelance digital marketing and because it’s not writing stuff like this, I’m not very good at it. Since starting my “business” I’ve picked up a few clients but instead of collaborating (which, ironically, I hated doing when working with a team) they want ME to figure out their goals and how to make them more money. Why do I have to do everything?!

The clients I’ve wrangled up are all small businesses which means they don’t have the biggest budgets to work with so I can’t do a lot and then feel bad for charging them for the work that I do complete. I’ve really only been successful with one of my clients and that’s only because I love the industry they’re in. So I guess I’m only good at things I care about. Well what other way is there?!

It gets worse. Because I have a problem prioritizing anything that isn’t paying me a regular salary, I would fall behind on tasks and lose clients. Listen, it’s real hard working on tasks that you invented yourself for clients whose goals you had to set and when it comes time to bill them you don’t know what to charge because you didn’t discuss a rate because you didn’t know what the scope of work would be till you started and had to make it up and that pretty much mean you suck donkey dicks at freelancing.

My entire life I’ve either wanted to work for myself or work doing something I loved. I’ve never bought into having to work a job you hate forever. I’ve never thought something impossible. Difficult to achieve, absolutely. Impossible? Abso-fucking-lutely not.

When it comes to work, I want to be a published author, write and sell my screenplays, write for others, and work in publishing. Oh, and I want to work as Head of Content for the Alamo Drafthouse. I don’t even know if it’s a thing but I’ll figure it out.

How I’m not going to get there is freelancing for businesses I don’t care about. So, aside from the one client I love, I’ve gone back into the workforce. That’s right, I got a big girl job. Also, it’s a remote position. It only took 20 years but I finally willed legitimately working from home into fruition. ME. I did that. It was exhausting.

I need to pay my bills but, more importantly, I need to make sure that I’m not juggling a bunch of bullshit so I can work on my writing and getting in at the Drafthouse.

My journey as a freelancer isn’t a total loss, though. Along the way to achieving my dream of not having to go to an office (and also not having to dress like an adult), I’ve worked some pretty weird jobs and think I have some good unconventional business advice to offer, because who better to take business advice from than someone who was horrendously bad at it.

Get ready to get better at things or worse at things. I don’t know, I’m not a life coach. If I were, I would be way better at this “gig economy” shit, and that my friends, is how IRONY works.

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