The FSw Get Yourself Fired competition yielded many fantastic entries. In no particular order, here are the highlights:
Keep looking over your shoulder in a paranoid way, like you’re seeing things. When anyone asks if you want a cup of coffee, refuse politely saying coffee doesn’t mix well with amphetamines.
Show up to work hours late — when your boss asks why you’re late, reach into your pocket and pull out a forged note from his “mom” asking to please excuse you because you were spending quality time with her, then tell him that your mom is quite the woman and amazingly is still good in bed with 100% sincerity.
As you are sitting at your desk, working diligently, suddenly stand up at attention, while saluting and scream: “Yes sir! Sh*t, ass, b*tch, sh*t, b*tch, damn!” then do 25 push-ups, then sit back down as if nothing happened. When someone approaches you about it, just say: “Oh that? When I was in Vietnam I acquired a case of turrets syndrome,” even though you’re only in your 20s.
Especially if you work in an IT company…the WiFiphobe…walk around with a tin foil hat screaming “the WiFi is coming! The WiFi is coming!” Extra points if you have an ET-esque voice and can say “ET connect home via BlueTooth…”
Time for a roundup of useful links from across this beast we call the world wide web:
Brett Farmilloe runs PursueThePassion – a blog about doing what you love. I am incredibly jealous as he gets to travel around the US in three weeks conducting a series of interviews with people who do what they love for a living. On last years journey he interviewed two freelancers – Rick Farmiloe who is a successful illustrator (and drew Abu in Aladdin for Disney), and Justin Bua who is a successful artist. Brett is looking for freelancers to interview this year, so if you’ve pursued your passion then get in touch via the site.
WebAppers is a new blog which scours the web for open source projects. If you’re a web designer or developer this is an incredibly handy resource.
Graphic Design Blog has an interesting article about Freelancing and Time Management, where Tara discusses her journey which most freelancers will relate to.
If you’re involved in the music industry, or even a freelancer looking for some general tips, Andrew Dubber from New Music Strategies has released a free e-book entitled 20 Things.
WiFi Free Spot is a directory that tells you where you can find free Wi Fi hotspots in your area.
Jamie Huskisson lists the Five Reasons Bad Clients Are Good For Us. A great reminder for those of us dealing with the client from hell!
If you have a useful link or article that you think FreelanceSwitch readers would be interested in, Send It In!
Many of us tend to keep our clients at an arms length; they tell us what to do, we do it, they give us monies, everyone is happy.
Personally, though, I’ve had more success and enjoy my work a lot more by moving beyond the “strictly business relationship.”
Getting to know clients on somewhat of a more personal level helps them see you as more than a voice on the phone that makes articles, graphics, websites, etc appear and can make repeat business more likely, or it could increase the likelihood that they’ll be more willing to help you in other ways later.
As an example, a few months back, an editor asked me to drop by his office to pick up some documents he wanted me to use for an article. While there, we start talking about politics and before I know it, we’re looking for an angle on the issue we’re discussing for his publication and I walk out with a second assignment I wouldn’t have gotten had we stuck to business.
It could often involve just an extra 10 minutes of small talk, but that 10 minutes can go a long way to getting referrals and repeat business.
Get to know them
You can learn a surprising amount people with that extra few minutes of small talk, but you can also get to know clients simply by doing a bit of homework. As a writer, I always study a client’s publication – what kind of articles do they editors write themselves? What positions do they take in their editorials? With other industries, it can simply be a matter of checking their website or blog if they have one. There you can learn about their hobbies, sense of humour and political inclinations, all of which can be great fodder for discussion at meetings.
But let’s look at how to make that laziness work for us, and how to turn lazy into productive.
We often beat ourselves up about our laziness, even though it’s a natural condition that every human being gets to some extent. It’s time to stop the self-criticism and see how laziness can actually be a positive, no matter what society tells us.
Here’s an observation: often the smartest people are the laziest ones. They’re always looking for ways to get out of work, or do make something easier, and their creative ways of doing that have come up with some of the most ingenius, productive inventions: the computer, the microwave, the car, the Clapper, to name but a few.
Now, I don’t know about you, but laziness doesn’t seem so bad to me when you look at it that way. Let’s see how laziness can actually be productivity if you use it the right way.
Nathan Swartz, a freelance web designer in Pittsburgh PA, is a lucky fellow.
Straight out of school, he landed himself a graphic design job at a small Public Broadcasting Station, getting to live a geek’s dream of being paid to play with Photoshop all day.
However, when commuting, meetings and wearing a tie became too much, he then succeeded in ditching the corporate world to work for himself. The 28-year-old now designs websites for a variety of clients from a medical software company to a whisky maker, all from the comfort of local coffee shops.
In this interview, we discuss the joys and downsides of freelancing, outsourcing tasks and web design issues, like content management systems and using Dreamweaver as a glorified text editor.
RJ: I guess my first question would be, why work freelance? Do you prefer it to say, working for a design firm or as an in-house web designer for a company?
NS: Well, fresh out of school and looking to amass my fortunes, I landed a job as an in-house designer for an itsy bitsy little PBS station in Erie, PA and good times ensued for the next several years. As they were such a small station, I was simultaneously in charge of their print, web design and all of their on air graphics and animations, so the experience of it all was quite definitely the bees knees, and I smiled all the way in to work on a fairly regular basis. It’s great after years spent pumping gas, digging ditches, pushing coffee, etc – how pristine a job playing around in Photoshop all day seems.
But even as glamorous a life as a small town graphic designer is afforded, I still disliked having to play along with all of the absurdities of the modern day business world. The contradictions of the old world business model just quit making sense to me – why was I waking up at 7:30 just so I could make it into work by 9am, when I could have easily have rolled out of bed at 8:30 and got on a machine at home? Why did I need to sit in hour long meetings about the latest fund raiser when all they wanted from me was to order another crate of envelopes from the printer? And what about wearing a tie was it again that somehow made my animations more interesting? So one day I decided to quit my job, start my own freelancing career and change the world of business forever.
Just kidding about that last bit. Actually, I fell in love with this girl in England, flew over there and couldn’t find a job, so I increased my “side jobs” until I realized I was wasting valuable time going out on interviews that I could’ve been spending building websites. So I just decided to go full time on the freelance scene.
And now I work 4 days a week, about 6 hours a day, and find myself smiling a lot more often. I make just enough money to keep the bartender in tips and can run my son to the doctor at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon if he suddenly breaks down with scurvy, without having to give up any precious sick days or vacation time or whatever they’re calling it these days.
RJ: Those are the perks of freelancing, but what are the downsides for you?
There are some mythical freelancers who like unicorns that prance in open fields and sasquatches who lumber through the forests… have fully booked schedules and are never in need of finding new clients and work. For the majority of us though, we’re always on the hunt for new leads.
Jobs boards like the one here on FreelanceSwitch are a great place to find clients looking for some freelance work. I recently posted a job opportunity for a freelance designer on the board as well as on several other boards and in light of how many application emails I received that left a little to be desired, I wrote this post to share the insights I gained when looking to hire a freelancer. Now this may come off a little tough, but remember that I’m trying to give you an honest assessment from the point of view of a hiring client. If you’re finding your job applications aren’t hitting the mark with clients, consider the following tips:
What are the weekends, really? I find myself asking this sometimes after a long work week. Being a workaholic and owning my own business means that I am generally writing on a Saturday afternoon or cramming in an assignment to get ahead of the work week on Sunday night. It is truly difficult for me to give myself a day off.
I realize I can’t go on this way forever, which is why I try mostly to contain my assignments to the week. But even that is hard. I justify working on the weekends when I recall the times during the week that I take a nap, dart out to the gym or treat myself to tea. Those are the times I think about the 9-to-5 corporate slaves and grin.
But there’s something that they have, which I believe I do not. I realize that those 9-to-5ers generally have more of an appreciation for weekends, and they can easily enjoy them. After all, by the time Friday at 5 p.m. hits, it’s like a jail breakout. Most 9-to-5ers leave the office, and they’re done with work. Because they don’t have to be at their office, and aren’t near it, (and yes, most of them are miserable at what they do), they are more apt to relish the weekend, not working at all—really recharging themselves and having fun!
How on Earth do they do that? And how can a self-employed person get the most out of their weekends, too?
We’ve already discussed how to tell if you are charging too little, but what if your prices have gone right the other way? For your amusement here are some signs you may be charging too MUCH!
To justify the price on your quotes, you’ve started writing extra words that usually mean the same thing…
eg. Creation of Concept, Concept Development, Concept Refinement, Tweaking to Concept, Amendments to Concept ….
You’re still living off a job you finished in 2005.
Even large clients ask to pay you in installments.
Clients ask if you are perhaps quoting in Singapore dollars even though you live in Ohio.
It has been a while coming, but we here at FSw have finally compiled the list of freelancing blogs and resource sites that we have t across in our travels, in the hopes of introducing you to some new voices and perspectives in the world of freelancing. They’ve been loosely categorized, but as we’ve discovered, photography blogs can be fascinating to the designer, and design blogs can be invaluable to the programmer. And often sites will have pearls of freelancing wisdom that apply to those outside of their industry too. We hope you enjoy what is only a small sampling, and let us know about the ones we’ve missed in the comments…
By Leo Babauta
If you’re like most people, you’ve got a to-do list that spills over onto the next page — one or more lists of tasks that just seems to be getting longer and longer. And no matter how hard you work, no matter how many hours you put in, no matter how many of the tasks you knock off your list, it just keeps growing.
Master your never-ending to-do list by simplifying it and focusing exclusively on high-powered tasks.
Take a look at your to-do list right now — how many of those tasks will really matter in a month? How many of them are just boring, mindless, repetitive, time-consuming tasks that will keep you extremely busy without really making a difference in your life? Look through you list and see if you can find the one task that will really change your life.
That’s a high-powered task.