2016 started with the best of intentions for my freelance career. Like many Americans, I’m self-employed, a proud member of the gig economy.
Nearly 53 million American workers, or 34 percent of the U.S. labor force, are employed in some type of freelance or contingent employment agreement, according to a 2014 report by the Freelancers Union.
Just before Christmas, I began crafting five sure-fire resolutions certain to jump start my career as a freelance writer. Now, barely one month in to 2016, I’ve achieved epic failure on all five.
So that all in freelance land may benefit from my mistakes, let’s look at where my resolutions went wrong:
(1) Reduce internet play time.
What started as a harmless time-filler while on terminal hold with the bank became an all out obsessive time suck with me last year. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – they all ate my productivity. Do you realize how many Donald Trump memes there are out there?
I resolved to reduce, if not eliminate mindless online slumming as my top resolution. OK – not very realistic — but I am down to one self-Google a day. OK , two. Three times at the most.
— Mocha Maven Brand (@MochaMavenBrand) February 2, 2016
(2) Get out of the house. Every day.
“Let’s face it,” I told myself late last year, “Stories don’t happen in your back bedroom office.” Yes the freelance commute is a breeze, as is the dress code and even the personal hygiene requirements, but deep down I knew getting out into the real world and mixing it up at the latest meet-ups and after-work beer-ups would invariably lead to ideas, connections and stories.
I just didn’t figure that this would require shaving, getting my car fixed and actually showing interest in other people.
(3) Move out of the home bedroom office into hip co-working space.
I’m not a hermit. I know cool co-working space abounds in Charlotte. I’ve been to or heard about places like Industry, Packard Place, @809 and Hygge. I know that’s where the hipster-atti hang out, play ping pong, drink cold press and dream up big ideas. I wanted in and made a resolution to check out all their vibes, choose the best one for me and sign on the dotted line.
Look how productive our desk members looked today! Looking for a new space to get work done? Come check us out! pic.twitter.com/7SudltFe3X
— IndustryCowork (@IndustryCowork) December 8, 2015
What did I do instead? Cheap-a** that I am, I reconfigured our dining room into my new office and declared to my wife, also a freelancer, it was our new, FREE co-working space. I know, lame. At least my work-wife is my real wife.
(4) Polish up my online presence.
Many freelancers depend on their online presence as a primary marketing vehicle, according to my website designer. “Have a consistent brand across all platforms,” he tells me. He wants all my avatars on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc to be the same. I need to be professional.
“Take down that video of you getting jiggy at the 2012 DNC media party,” he tells me. Sigh. I fool with my LinkedIn profile, edging up the cool “profile strength meter” to All Star level. I spent so much time on this, I didn’t have time to chase new work – I’m over it!
(5) Rework once-dead proposals into gold.
Working off the theory there are gems to be found in the rubble of past dead proposals, I resolved to mine my (huge) file of oh-so-close pitches for the gold. If I could only find the file, I’m sure I would have succeeded.
Despite these setbacks, I haven’t lost hope. I’m gonna crush it. If only I can get out of my own way.