Monday, February 13, 2012

The Freelance Rules #13 - Don't get discouraged

Friday was terrible: five interviews lined up for a magazine that's already running late. Of those five, I landed just one. One guy was on holiday - I interrupted his boarding at Stansted Airport - one bumped me for a more important meeting and two just weren't on the end of the phone when they said they would be. I also spent far too much of the day (indeed of the week) chasing payments for work completed last November while also dealing with lost emails and a conference clash.

It was a horrible day summing up all it can be when you're a microbusiness on the margins of importance to those I was trying to connect with. But sometimes that's just the nature of the beast when you're freelancing.

In this case, my client hasn't prioritised the project I'm working on, and getting support from within his business has been painful. It's not his fault: the project's a new area for him and he's being asked to do more with less as the downturn continues to bite. I'm just glad the magazine is still running. In terms of the interviewees, an almost cold call from an organisation they know for something other than as a commentator on business issues is never going to outrank their day to day tasks.

Yes - interviews could have been set up earlier; we could have had a stronger brief on client requirements and and there could just have been more client oomph behind the project. But, we are where we are and the task of the freelancer is to make the best of it. Come the end of last Friday I just had to park what occurred during the day and prepare for a better Monday.

Today didn't start brilliantly to be honest - but not for immediate work reasons. I've been bumped off a flight in the US in April which rather mucks up some well-crafted travel plans, and then I found out I'd missed out on the ballot for England v South Africa tickets this summer. So, not the nicest first two emails to greet me.

But, since then, things have looked up. One client has paid me; I've conducted three useful interviews for the magazine and have another one lined up this afternoon. The magazine isn't quite where I'd want it to be, but thanks to the persistence of my co-freelancer and myself, and some energy from the client, it's getting there.

As microbusinesses we tend to work in a little bubble and it's too easy to let high dudgeon rise when our best-laid plans are derailed further up the supply chain. But if you want to keep pulling in the jobs, there's no point acting like a prima donna. Sometimes the only way to operate is just to plough on: to take in a huge breath, count to ten and focus on what you can do - not on the aspects of the project outside your control.

Expending all your energy on issues where you have little or no influence will lead only to further discouragement.  That way madness lies!

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