Being a freelancer is scary. I sit here day after day. My head down, cranking out my work. Sometimes I use Photoshop, sometimes I write articles, and sometimes I code my website.
At the end of the day, I made it through the work, and go to bed. I really don’t think much of it. Once in a while, I actually like what I did. That’s a good day.
The funny thing is, every now and then I receive feedback from others. Maybe it’s a Photographer, student, or website visitor. They tell me how much I have influenced them, or otherwise encouraged them. They may cite something I did last year (long gone from my own memory), and totally make my day.
All proud of my little victory, I will go and tell my wife. That is when I get a little groan of aknowledgement, and I am back where I was before. If it’s not her, then it’s my mother, who never much cared for what I did professionally. Lastly, if it’s not about Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario, my 6 year old doesn’t care either.
Being a Freelancer
My name is John Ross, and I am a Professional Retoucher. I have a website dedicated to Adobe Photoshop Retouching Tutorials. I teach live Photoshop Classes in front of real students. I am a master of my craft. And you know what? I don’t think I am good enough either.
This is my world. I have surrounded myself with people who couldn’t care less. No wonder I don’t think much of what I do. Isn’t it obvious why I can’t tell where my focus should be? I’m sure you see where positive reinforcement is necessary for our well being? Being a freelancer feels much like living on an island, all alone.
This is where we all have a choice. Would you prefer to believe the negative voices around you, or the positive ones? What does your own gut tell you? And since this is a personal moment, forget about being self centered or pompus. Are you good at what you do, or aren’t you?
If you think your work is OK or pretty good, it’s likely better than you think. Chin up, practice, and keep learning. We have to start somewhere. Just do your best to stay the path, and find yourself a mentor whose work you really admire. You do not need to know them personally, just follow their work and wisdom. Pull it all into yourself. Take away all their strengths.
Just remember to send that mentor an email, and let them know how they influenced you. They all appreciate it, and you may just make their day too. The world is very small now. There is a good chance they may even visit the same forums that you do. It can be surprising how easy it is to reach for your favorite photographer or artist.
Back to the Question
When are you good enough to be a freelancer? That’s easy. When someone pays you for your talent and skills. What, you wanted some personal revelation? Something to give you warm fuzzies? Please. That is SO not me. I feel kinda empty by saying it that way. So let’s alter the definition of payment a little bit.
Payment does not need to be defined in money. It could be in a referral, bonus assignment, guest article, or even someone just saying “Thank You, I love it” followed by putting it on their desk, wall or website.
Now do you see what payment can mean? It’s simply when someone presents you, as a representative of them. For example, I would not refer you to a friend or send more work your way, if I wasn’t comfortable with your results. I would not ask for your help, or put it on my website if I thought it was mediocre. And I certainly would not give you money unless you earned it.
But, lets be honest here. You can not be a freelancer, unless someone is willing to pay you money for your craft. Their trouble is that you can not leave your job, unless you find your own clients first. But here is a secret… you only need one client.
If you can find one person willing to pay you semi-regularly, then you can likely break free from your desk job with only a few weeks of cutting back. For me, when I lost my desk job a few years ago, I didn’t even miss a beat. I already had two completely different businesses I was able to fall back on when the worst thing ever happened. Seriously, it wasn’t that bad.
So if you want to be a freelancer, find one client, and start there. Once you find them, then you are good enough to get more work. It doesn’t take as much as you think it does.
If you are thinking of becoming a freelancer one day soon, check out another John’s article Starting Out As A Freelance Retoucher.