Four years into my tenure as the owner, operator, head writer, and janitor at Function, and things were going pretty smoothly. A nice new office in a new home, shiny contracts spread across two handfuls of clients in various capacities, and a continued focus on a niche market: hockey and sports writing.
Pretty dope, if I do say so myself.
And I do say that often. So often, in fact, that last week my Biggest client confused my 30-something vernacular with a childish insult and they kicked me to the curb faster than a pick-up truck driver chucks Tim Hortons’ double double cups out the window.
We’re Done With You
Alright, it didn’t go down quite like that. The truth was their blogging budget had simply dried up in the wake of some management shuffling. I told them I understood, which was true, but understanding a situation doesn’t mean you can’t fly into a tequila-fuelled rage about it. No, I didn’t lose an entire job as is the case for so many people hit hard by the instability of oil. My entire life didn’t just go up in flames like it did for the hearty folk of Fort McMurray.
No, being a good freelancer means diversifying your client portfolio. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, I’ve learned.
However, this was still my Biggest Contract. It accounted for nearly 30% of my work in 2015. Plus it was closely aligned, at its core, with my concentration on a niche market. What was the point of narrowing your focus if work was just going to be yanked out from under your feet with zero notice?
I was frustrated. Glum, even. What did I do in the wake of this news?
I started renovating my house. I bought a new truck. I stopped going to the gym. All of these actions immediately brought me remorse, but then a funny thought entered my head.
“Four years ago you left your hometown with nothing and started a company so you didn’t have to deal with traffic. It wasn’t like Grandpa Simpson and Homer travelling to America, but it was pretty close.”
Prove Them Wrong!
Ok so maybe it wasn’t like transplanting yourself to the other side of the world without being able to afford food at all, but the ambition of four years ago still applies today. I started a company. I created a career.
Don’t let your life move backwards. Don’t call up that hipster social media company with the beanbag chairs to tell them you’ve changed your mind and accepted their offer. Don’t let one company dictate the evolution of your company, your livelihood, your life’s work.
I’d grown complacent. Last year was incredibly busy. Work found me, I didn’t have to look for it. Well, a weekly 1500-word chasm just opened up in my schedule and I’m excited to find something new to fill it up. No, not tequila.
…Maybe a little tequila.
One thing I’ve always read about freelancing is that pretty much everyone is making it up as they go. The day you stop expanding your skillset is the day you’re doomed to complacency and, ultimately, irrelevance. It’s true when you’re coaching junior hockey and it’s true when you’re running your own one-man blogging company from your home while your whippets nap lazily at your feet.
I’ve learned a lot in four years. Time to learn something new.