When you’re a freelancer, it makes sense, business-wise, to focus on the work that’s in the greatest demand from clients.
But most of us aren’t just freelancing for the money. We’re looking for other things, too, like the ability to control our own time, choose our own projects and work with people we like.
Thinking too much like a “hired gun” can lead to long stretches where you have not done any work that really taps into your passion for your craft or keeps you motivated.
If you’ve fallen into that trap, it’s a good time to take a big-picture look at your business.
Years ago, when I first tried freelancing for a short stretch, another more seasoned indie writer gave me some good advice: Make sure that at any given time, 20% of your assignments are on a topic you’re really passionate about. What got him up in the morning was working on articles about archeology, even though he was an excellent business writer. He made sure to pitch stories to magazines that covered archeology regularly, so he always had something fun on his plate, in addition to the articles that paid the bills.
Do you look forward to your work, most of the time, or are the dreads starting to creep in? How do you feel about the subject matter of your projects–and about the clients who assign them? If your work is starting to drain you, don’t let inertia set in. Take one step this week to go after the types of projects that interest you, whether it’s by changing how you advertise, adding a new keyword to your LinkedIn profile, pitching new clients or networking. (And don’t forget to consider “firing” clients who drain your energy, as we discuss in “12 Signs of a Bad Client.“)
After almost five years in business, I’ve tinkered with my client mix to the point that I’m really happy with it. I write mostly about careers and entrepreneurship–subjects I enjoy–for clients of all sizes that are united by one common thread: They care immensely about quality. Even thought these clients demand a lot, I’m happy with the finished projects–and I find that this is essential for my own satisfaction. This year, I stepped up my blogging, something that I’ve been interested in for a while, taking on Forbes as a client. The chance to experiment with the blog, and find out what works and doesn’t work as a blogger, adds some extra fun to my week.
It’s easy to get caught on a treadmill of deadlines as a freelancer. Give yourself some time this week to think about what you really want out of your life as a freelancer. The beauty of this crazy life we’ve chosen is that we don’t have to ask a boss to change our job description. We’re in the driver’s seat.