Freelancing: Fixing What Doesn’t Work
The months of September and October both passed by so quickly and I’m finally able see complete figures again as things calm down to their typical slow pace—the rate in which San Diego pulls one into in order resume its natural slowness, until things pick up again. After essentially being forced into an unwanted vacation by losing planned projects like they were all communicating with one another, I was able to jump on a plane with my boyfriend to New York for what was a work trip for him, and for me, an ideal opportunity to get out of the house, my head, and a city that had so few jobs in my field—but I knew that.
Since my expenses had been undercutting the little profit I had by a significant amount the past few months, I found it painful to even check my quickbooks app to acknowledge the outstanding damage and begin to devise a plan that would allow me to control it as successfully as I had in Q1 and Q2, with a proper balance of expenses and profits. I couldn’t face the reality until I had an upcoming project that would bring me income, to know I was fixing it. I walked along the edge of Chelsea by the Hudson River multiple times, where there were fewer shops to walk past and fewer people to maneuver around—thinking how obnoxious people are who say New Yorkers walk so fast (they don’t). I later laughed out loud as I turned the corner to make my way back into a more populated area and found myself surrounded by excessively dressed fashion ppl and photographers doing fashion week things, as I modeled the same clothes I’ve worn for years, styled with my beat up high tops and earbuds that blasted Soundtracks For The Blind—a soft but hilarious reminder of my financial status, as I walked through various wafts of perfume that combined into one.
I later retained a level of optimism aside from just being in a rad city with my boyfriend and having ample time for schemes, as I finally got an interview with the CD at a well known NY based company I was genuinely interested in, and a potential resolve to my financial woes. I had to be persistent with them as it wasn’t the most organized process, but knowing I had the interview helped my confidence, confirming I wasn’t a pile of garbage like the few jobs I applied for in San Diego led me to believe with their lack of response—as shitty as that sounds (when you’re low, you’re low). Though they naturally went with a New York resident, the process helped me begin to come to terms with the reality of living back in my hometown that I’ve been trying hard to make work out of my own stubbornness to stay in San Diego within the limits of my own personality, career path, and inability to—for lack of a better term, sell myself as a designer, when I’d prefer to distract myself with anything but self promo.
A few days after the last-minute trip to NYC, I was met with an opportunity to work onsite for a global agency in LA for three weeks on a branding project for a client. Feeling bitter about San Diego and trying to be more flexible after being alone with my thoughts in NYC, I took it even though it was intimidating. It was a personal benchmark, as I left my last in-house position back in 2014 and have been working one-on-one with local clients scattered with occasional on-site SF visits ever since, and was unsure how I’d take working in an agency setting due to its unfamiliarity. Perhaps it was the change of environment removed from the context of silicon valley, my increase in age, or knowing what my financial blow felt like, constantly berated by my own thoughts, but it was enjoyable to work in an office again, knowing I was being paid well for my services—temporarily free from financial concerns. I was staying at the Travelodge the first week, but I wanted the highest profit margin I could get to help the financial recovery process, and was distracted by the glowing opportunity, as different as it was.
I mentioned previously a shift in the way I operate—being open and flexible freelancing on-site for companies and agencies seem to be where it’s at for me currently. Not just one either, as that leads to trouble in terms of what you assume to be projected income. I’ve heard freelancers talk about this in the past, doing some agency work so they can continue working on their own projects, or working with smaller clients, and I get it. I’m on a smaller scale without an audience, but I get it. Yes, this is inching closer to a in-house position without the benefits and and added level of stress—that’s correct, baby steps. I’m learning that working with companies and agencies is basically a necessity to survive as a freelancer—at least for me, and for others who also find working with only small clients exhausting and nearly impractical when comparing time and energy output on the quest of a stable income.
The agency found me via WorkingNotWorking, which is the only luck I’ve had with the site so far since the majority of the jobs are in NYC, which is again, frustrating, but I’m remaining flexible and hopeful as things continue to change.
Obvious things I’ve found to be helpful:
1. Escaping the stress by getting out of the house and walking to help work out thoughts, as well as taking a break and spending time with loved ones. Baths with ambient music are also a great thing.
2. Artful distractions filled with film and/or fiction when productivity just isn’t happening, then making time for these regularly.
3. No longer being 100% focused on what future needs to look like when it clearly isn’t working out as planned—knowing when to edit and how.
4. Being flexible and making room for improvisations and opportunities that help get back to a consistent income, it might lead to a better path than said plan.
5. Redesigning a routine to help keep focus amongst the chaos to prevent dark moods and inactivity.
6. Keeping the portfolio and resume updated in order to keep trying (but don’t spend too much time on one job if it isn’t working).