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.

“I’m Right On Top of That, Rose!”

“Sometimes in life, you gotta eat a lotta shit.” No wait, this one’s better: “Life is just one all-you-can-eat shit show.” I’m on a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel kick and I couldn’t have started watching this show at a better time.

Being an adult right now is terrible. Nothing at all like what I imagined, which was me rich and famous living in a mansion but still 12-years-old for some reason. Instead, I’m about to be 37, diving face-first into my plate of shit like it’s a pie-eating contest.

I’ve quit working for myself; I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m not a bad boss but I am bad at doing stuff I don’t want to do (like any good employee) so every day at “work” was like the eternal struggle between good and evil at my own desk. It’s a real bummer because working from home/for myself has been a dream of mine since I was 17. It all started when I worked at the movie theater and had to work on Easter, which meant I couldn’t hang out with my one friend. That was bullshit. I vowed to one day not work a real job.

Back then it was because I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. Now, well, it’s still because I want to do whatever I want to do but the thing I want to do most is to write things I want to write as well as write for all 13 of you. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened. I got too busy writing content for three clients, each in different fields. One I know a ton about but the other two I know dick-all.

One is a pest control guy. The few things I know about insects are 1) NO ONE will EVER be able to get rid of all the mosquitos, 2) I discovered I wasn’t allergic to wasps when I got stung by one last summer, and, 3) thanks to my parents, I’m terrified of spiders because they made me watch Arachnophobia when I was 9 and to this day I can’t eat popcorn in handfuls because I’m convinced there’s one hiding in my bowl, just waiting for me to let my guard down.

The other client is a water treatment company. I know we need water to survive but I also know there’s a crap ton of places to get it, which isn’t a good PR campaign when you’re trying to push home reverse osmosis systems.

I’m sure I could make this work but it would be at the expense of my writing, and I’ve already wasted enough time writing about things that are about as funny as the office job I’ve since taken:

I’m doing marketing and admin work for a company that helps elderly people file for Medicaid. So far my favorite conversation with a potential client has been “I’m calling about the Medicaid eligibility form you filled out” and their response was “I did?” My plan was to find an office job (temporarily until I can get paid bill money to entertain you full time) that I could transform into the job I had a few years ago where I really only did actual work 2 days a week and read and wrote the rest of the time. As I write this, my boss is in a training so it’s working out so far.

But this is where I’m at. Back to square one. Doing what I have until I can do what I want to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

First, I’ve completely forgotten how to be an employee (for a real business) and work in an office. You know they want me to help clean? Like I have to throw my own trash out. Does anyone else have to do this? Additionally, my “boss” tried to change my start time to 8:30AM. Originally we agreed on 9AM and then on my first day he tried pulling the ol’ switcharoo. I told him no, explaining I would not cut into my CrossFit time. He gave me a shaky “ok”. Who does he think he is?

It gets worse.

The diva attitude I developed while “running my own business” appears to be permanent. When he showed me to my desk I took one look at the computer and said “that’s not a Mac.” He set me up with an HP. I didn’t even know those still existed. He doubled-down on the subpar electronics by throwing in a laptop. Not a MacBook. A laptop. It’s an ASUS VivoBook, whatever the fuck that is. And by now you should know that my brain doesn’t see ASUS, it sees another word – one that adequately depicts the picture that I’ve painted for myself.

The other thing I’ve learned is nothing is supposed to be like anything. Failure is totally an option; there’s even a book about it. It’s called Failure Is An Option by H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Archer and Bob from Bob’s Burgers. Everyone should read it, mainly because it’s hilarious. Anyway, failure is fine. I thought leaving my job where I had an abundance of time to read and write for a content writing position would be the answer for me, but it wasn’t.

I thought taking that experience and turning it into freelance marketing/content writing gigs would be the answer, but it wasn’t. For me, I need a job where I only have to think about one thing so that my brain is free to come up with anus jokes and figure out ways to write about the things I want to (like books and movies and things that make people forget about the shit for a minute). Does working a real job suck? Yeah, kind of. I have to get dressed every day. I can’t wear flip flops. I have to drive somewhere. I only get an hour for lunch like I’m in prison. But I’m writing this from the office so it’s not a total let down.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how you reach your goal. What matters is, if you want it bad enough, you keep figuring it out. Sometimes things come easier for some than they do for others. Since I was a kid I’ve learned things the hard way. Fortunately, that makes for better stories.

Next week I’ll go into detail about how I royally fucked everything up. For now, I need to finish writing about the time I stalked the white Power Ranger so I can post that story on Friday, AKA National Power Rangers Day. I’m supposed to be working on my boss’s website but that can wait. He’s only been in business a year, I was in business for a year and a half. I think I know what I’m doing.

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