When I first started out freelancing, I had no jobs or opportunities in the pipeline at all and was living off savings that I’d managed to squirrel away and hide for a rainy day, aka those first few freelancing days and months.
So when people began to approach me for work and offers began to come in, understandably I was a little bit delighted! I took every single job offer that came my way, gratefully snapping my clients’ hands off for their work. I never thought for one minute, “do I really want to do this job?” or “what’s in it for me?” (Apart from the money). Rather chuffed and grateful, I just took on the work and got stuck in!
Now don’t get me wrong, over the last year, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve worked on some fabulous projects, met lots of talented people and in the main, had a ball. But…. to be frank, there have been times, albeit occasional, when I’ve thought, “why oh why did I take this on?!” or worse “why oh why did I agree to work with them?!”.
So in order to try and prevent this happening in future, I’ve made a little promise to myself as I progress into my second year, and it goes like this …. from now on, I’m going to think VERY carefully about every single job opportunity that comes my way and choose carefully. In a nutshell I’m going to get picky.
Some may say that this is silly, crazy perhaps, because money is money and all that jazz. But to me, getting choosy or choosier isn’t about ‘the dollar’ and more about working smarter, being happier and getting better at what I do. I know I’m fortunate to be able to start being choosier because I have existing clients and I’m not struggling to attract new work, but I urge all my fellow freelancers and self-employed friends to start thinking more about choice and freedom. Afterall, what’s the point in working for ourselves, if we don’t get to pick and choose?!
Still not convinced? Here are my top 5 reasons why (if you can), you should choose what work you do and who you work with:
1) You’ll achieve better results – As a freelancer, my reputation is my livelihood and whilst I know that I’m not perfect and that undoubtedly there will be times when mistakes will occur, on the whole I find that I’m MUCH better at my job if I love the work that I’m doing and who I’m working with. I do my best to work as hard as I can for all of my clients, but let’s face it when you heart’s not in it, you’re just never going to be at your best.
2) You’ll be happier – When you’re self employed, you need to love what you do, otherwise quite frankly, what on earth’s the point? I love freelancing (as many of you will know) but it can be ridiculously stressful and it’s rare that I ever get to take time off. But by being in control over the work that I do and choosing the people I work with, I’m managing to feel that sense of freedom again and keep my motivation levels high. So next time you have to drag yourself out of bed, because you’ve lost your freelance mojo, think long and hard: Do you really love the work that you’re doing currently? And if not, what can you change?
3) It’ll be less stressful – When working with clients, I always try to be as professional, polite and courteous as is humanly possible. Sometimes I may fail, but on the whole I think I manage pretty well. Juggling a number of different clients isn’t easy, but it becomes a million times more difficult when you work with people who aren’t as professional or courteous as they should or can be. Clients who take forever to get back to you about something, never pay you on time or chop and change their minds like the wind, take up an awful lot of time and effort, therefore causing unnecessary stress and buckets of it. So set high standards and where possible, only work with those people who keep things easy, those whom it’s always a pleasure to do business with, NOT a chore.
4) You’ll gain more respect – When it comes to setting standards, as human beings we naturally do it all the time. You’ll only date such and such a person, you won’t work for anything less than (you fill in the blanks), your friends must be kind decent lovely folk etc, so why should it be any different when it comes to freelancing? It’s hard not to fall into that trap of being grateful for any work that comes your way ( as I did when I first started) but actually, by setting clear standards, you’re showing that you respect yourself, your time and your talent. If the boot was on the other foot and you were the client, just think which kind of freelancer you would rather work with. The one who takes any project and puts up with awkward clients because they’re so relieved to be working or the one who has standards, a healthy level of self-respect, who only works on projects and with people that they like and and believe in? Yep thought so.
5) The sky’s your limit – By being choosy with work, you pave the way for more exciting opportunities to come your way, ones you can really get your teeth into! You may have to make more effort to find the kind of work that you desire but just think where that could lead you. If we all stick doing what we’re doing, day in, day out, not only will freelancing life become dull but we’ll also suffer on a professional level too. So step outside your comfort zone, think about what you want to work on and who with and get picky! The beauty of freelancing is ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’, so if somewhere along the line you’ve lost your way a little, take back the reigns of control and start getting choosier. Who knows perhaps the client you don’t want, is a perfect fit for me and vice versa ;-)