Over the years I have blogged about best business practices for freelancers. You can find them on this website. When you scroll down on the home page you’ll see a list of categories that reflect the things I have written about and most of them (I’m glad to say), are still very relevant.
Those are the “do’s,” but they are just one side of a coin. The other side is a list of “don’ts.” Things I stopped doing as a freelancer. Things that have helped me run a sustainable business for years and years.
Now, here’s something you might recognize. The older I get, the easier it is to say NO to certain things. One is the need to please people. I remember when I just got started… I was ready to work with any client on any project for practically any fee because it was “such good experience.” I was building a portfolio.
It was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. Today I realize that -just as a client chooses to work with ME, it is my choice to work with that client. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to. I am not right for every client, and not every client is right for me.
“Can you really afford to say NO?” asked a colleague. I told her: “My business isn’t built based on the clients I say NO to. It’s built on the clients I say YES to.” I became a freelancer to be free and not some subservient doormat that acts our of fear, desperation, or depression.
I don’t need to win every audition and feel sad when I don’t. In fact, most of my jobs are not the result of auditions. They come from invitations. And when you don’t need to win a client over because they really want to work with you, you negotiate from a position of strength.
Another thing I had to learn how to do, was to conserve my energy. I used to be a very busy person, priding myself in how much I was able to accomplish in a day. Like any good American, my job was my identity, and my self-worth was linked to my work. Today, I see my work as something I DO, and not as something I AM. It does give my life some meaning, but my professional accomplishments don’t determine how I feel about myself.
If I were to call it quits today… no more voice overs… I would not shed one tear. If people prefer Ai… let them have Ai. There is a market for margarine, and for real, organic butter. And if you can’t prove your butter tastes better, find another job!
After my stroke I had to learn to let go. I had to let go of expectations of what my mind and body would be able to do for me on a daily basis. I admit: it was tough for me to accept, but I didn’t feel like having another and possibly fatal stroke, so -for things to change- I had to change.
I stopped judging myself by other people’s standards. Other men my age can drive cars. I cannot. Other men my age handle their own finances. I cannot. Other men my age can put in eight-hour days. I cannot. If I would look at the long list of things I can no longer do (or am no longer allowed to do by my doctors), I would end up in a dark, dark place.
But there’s a reason I’m still here, so I choose to dwell on the things I can still do. I choose to spend my time wisely, and not work on meaningless projects for disrespectful clients at insulting rates.
Saying no to what I don’t want or am no longer allowed to do, leaves more time for me to spend on things I really want to do, making my life much more fulfilling.
Rather than help other people create THEIR content, I create my own. I write, I record, and I communicate. If you like it, great. If you don’t, so what? My self-respect doesn’t depend on clicks, outside validation, awards, or on the number of followers.
It took me years to get 5 thousand followers on Instagram, and one stupid hack wiped everything away and forced me to start from scratch. It was a house built on sand, determined by algorithms designed by a system that favors sensationalism and angertainment.
I could go on with lots of other things I decided to no longer do, but one of these things was to give up creating long form content for people with the attention span of goldfish.
My blog is being targeted by aggressive spam bots. That’s why I had to put an equally aggressive spam filter in place. This means that when you comment, you will receive a response that your comment has been flagged as spam. Don’t worry. All I need to do is approve your comment, and it will show up. Thanks for understanding