I Failed at Freelancing.
Freelance isn’t fun like cupcakes and farts. It’s fun like the Ironman.
That’s one of many phrases that I took to heart at tonight’s Refresh Seattle. Matt Brown from the aptly named, thingsthatarebrown, had a lot of great things to say tonight. Actually, I wondered to myself if those tips would have been useful after I had entered the world of freelancing. But you can only spend so much time wondering and only so much time thinking what could have been. I exchanged a few words with Matt Anderson after the talk.
I could see the gleam in his eyes, he wants to do this. He has the tenacity and the talent to make this work. I’d be very interested to see what he has to say in 14 months. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be different than what I had to say after my first 14.
We all enter freelance with around the same goals. But being a freelancer shows you who you really are. I don’t think you can say you’re right for freelancing until it has held nothing back. Then you have the people that have survived, the Keith Robinsons of the world—and the people who haven’t—people like me.
Just like how I joke that it took Facebook and Automattic to get me freelancing, it took freelancing to get where I am today. Obviously I have to take the hard way around every time until I’m slowly phased out of the internet for constantly missing the boat.
But seriously, just because one is good at something, doesn’t mean that they’re going to be good at selling it to others. I could make great Avalonstars, but I could never quite translate it to bring greatness to anything that I didn’t have a vested interest in. I didn’t have the basic discipline or the required patience to be a freelancer. Things that Matt was learning at 4 months in, I couldn’t learn. Or, maybe I was too stubborn to learn them. I wanted too much control. I didn’t want to be questioned. If a client couldn’t keep my interest, I could completely lose my motivation. The way I evolved my process over time was to look for projects that would allow me to bypass all of that.
That worked, for a time. But we all know the story. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wasn’t made for this. That’s been my experience.
Obviously, freelancing is not for everybody and I’ve gained so much respect for people like Matt who have the strength, determination and perseverance to keep going. Just by looking at him speak tonight, I know he’ll do well. I can say without a doubt that people with the same attributes will do just as well if not better. But you either know this for a fact up front, or you find out after you try.
I did the latter and say that as I’m looking back at the door I’m about to close and look forward at the one I’m about to open. I failed at being a freelancer from the beginning because I jumped in blindly. I failed being a freelancer at the end because I didn’t have the will to go on. I couldn’t finish the Ironman.
In our world, we need those great examples and we need examples of what and what not to be. Well, I’ll happily take the place of the latter. I’m really beginning to subscribe to the fact that everything happens for a reason. It was great while it lasted and if I had another chance, I wouldn’t do it any differently.
Good luck to Matt and all the freelancers out there. You’re all so much stronger than I could have ever been.