Every now and then, you happen upon an assignment that takes you to the next level. Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes it’s spontaneous. But one thing is for certain: You’re left feeling as if there’s no turning back.
I recently experienced such an assignment. And although it may not seem like a major “get” in the eyes of the freelance world, I knew that with each step, this was the type of project I’ve always dreamed of filling my days as a freelancer.
The mad dash to contact exactly the right people. The frantic worry about never hearing a "Yes" on the other end of the phone. The exasperated scramble to quell technical misfires when you realize that good old-fashioned low tech will do. I love it all. And like a kid in a candy store, I know I want to work hard, save my pennies and return as soon as possible.
Freelancer community sites like Freelance Folder and MediaBistro offer plenty of advice on how to get started, how to improve your business skills, and how to stick to it when the going gets rough. But where’s the advice on how to maintain a two-mile run/day habit when you’ve only just completed your first two-mile run?
“A career is a continuous quest for greater harmony between who you are and what you do.”
Many freelancers are willing to take a major step toward attaining that harmony, but fear getting sidetracked in the long run, unable to replicate their accomplishment. What are the steps to turning a dream project into your day job? Do you reject all other work that helped pay the bills in the past? Do you make sure that particular clip is front-and-center with every proposal or query regardless of whether it's pertinent? Do you throw all of your energy into pursuing the next big milestone in hopes of making that dream gig seem commonplace?
I ask these questions because A) if they had easy answers, this wouldn’t be much of a milestone, and B) I think the right answers will reveal themselves over time. But you don't have that kind of time. You've had a taste of the good stuff and you want to make it happen now. So what do you do?
You develop a strategy:
Yes, it sounds corny, but harmony means something different to everyone. We all have our limits, responsibilities and personal goals. One of my goals is to have arts & culture assignments knocking down my door on a monthly basis. However, I know that not only the journey, but also the finish line can take on many forms. So in order to increase my chances and "bend" reality in my favor, I need to take my own advice. Marketing my skills, preparing to seize opportunities at any moment, and reinvesting in myself will help steer me on the path where yesterday’s dream project is tomorrow’s day job.