I started writing this blog over five years ago. At the time, I hired freelancers, I was friends with freelancers and I loved freelancers.
But I was not a freelancer.
It seemed too hard. (How do you make money?) Too scary. (How do you make money??) Too lonely. (How do you make money?!)
This Friday, I’m leaving the Day Job and taking my practice full-time. I am going to be a full-time freelancer.
My road to freelancing wasn’t the blissful stuff of internet fairy tales. I resisted it like hell for a while, then timidly tested the waters, and then finally made a plan that only changed about a dozen times from beginning to end.
Once I made that plan, I approached going freelance the same way I approach a lot of negotiations: I identified what was important to me, created a structure that was strong enough to support those interests and flexible enough to change when I needed it to change, and I made sure I had a good back-up plan.
One of my strengths as negotiator is that I’ve got a good long game. I can wait you out longer than you think I can.
Which is funny, because when it comes to day-to-day stuff I can also be (ahem) a bit impatient.
But I’ve gotten to this point by giving myself smaller goals to achieve along the way. It means that I’m always accomplishing something that gets me closer to where I want to go, even if it isn’t the great big thing that I’m working toward.
I started this countdown calendar when I finally gave into the idea that maybe I could make a go of full time freelance work. Twenty-two months ago. Twenty. Two. Months.
So the next time you worry about not nailing a negotiation perfectly, or leaving money on the table, or being at a disadvantage because the person on the other side keeps saying things like “leveraging synergies” and “learnings from stakeholders,” remember: you are a freelancer. You play the long game. You don’t need to get it absolutely perfect on this round, because you’re working toward more important goals.
Each and every negotiation will teach you something. Each wacky client demand will give you an opportunity to practice your skills. Each job will be a chance for you to learn about how you like (and don’t like) to price your work. Each contract will give you a shot to stand up and protect yourself.
Here are a few of my favorite posts from over the years – posts that I hope will help you as you work toward your goals. However long a game that might be.
*Yes, the German is only close-ish; the things one will do for a joke.
Categories: The Rest