How To Balance Your Dream With Your Freelance BusinessElance_Alex | Jul 07, 2010
Doing what you love, that's what life is all about, right? Ted Bendixson, Elance writer and snowboard-enthusiast, shares his experiences on how he managed to balance his freelancing life with something he truly loves while staying extremely happy.
What do you dream of doing today? The new way to work gives us an astonishing degree of freedom. I got into freelancing because I wanted to create a schedule for myself that allowed me to snowboard every day of the season. With a traditional job, this is practically impossible. People want you to be in the office from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. This also happens to be the best time to ride. In order to work the hours I wanted, and ride almost every day, I had to come up with a better system.
With time on my hands, a few grand in the bank, and a small client base, I gradually figured it all out. Within two months, I had enough clients to cover my living costs and keep my business afloat, all while snowboarding almost every day. Here are a few of the lessons I learned in the first year of operating my freelance writing business.
Photo by Geno Fonderoli
Get your clients stoked about your passion.
Don’t try to hide what you love to do. Be proud of it. Tell your clients about your dream while you’re casually discussing business through the Workroom or over Skype and email. When your clients know what you’re up to and that you’re genuinely excited about it, they will help you set up your schedule so you can do what you love and help them at the same time.
At the start of my freelance career, I wondered if I should try to polish my image and make myself appear more professional. I very quickly threw that idea out the window. It simply wasn’t me. I’m not a guy in a suit. I’m a guy who gets out.
Believe it or not, people loved it! I got more clients because of my willingness to show off my passion. Think about it. If you can demonstrate that you are dedicated to something like rock climbing or photography, you are showing your clients that you are someone who gets things done, even in your leisure time. Dreams sell.
Be the most communicative Elancer your clients have ever worked with.
When you aren’t out painting the Sistine Chapel, you should be communicating with your clients and delivering your work ahead of schedule. I stay connected during my working hours so my clients can reach me if they need something, and I also answer every email as soon as I receive it so my clients don’t feel like I’ve disappeared.
When you communicate this much, your clients start to trust you. You can just tell them that you’re going snowboarding for the day, and you’ll get the work done that evening. They’ll never have a problem with your schedule because you communicate, and you always deliver the work on time.
Leverage your time away from your dream for increased productivity.
As much as I love to snowboard, I can’t do it every day. Guess what I’m doing on the days when I’m too sore to make it up to the mountain?
Days off are great for catching up on projects and marketing yourself to new clients. When you take a day off of pursuing your dream, you shouldn’t be sitting on the couch watching reruns of Murder She Wrote. You should be getting ahead of projects and surprising your clients with super fast turnaround times.
If your dream has a season, work longer days during your offseason time. Market yourself more intensely, and get a start on projects you otherwise wouldn’t have the time to start. That way, when it’s time to pick up your passion again, you won’t have to work nearly as much during your time off. You’ll be able to enjoy yourself while keeping your obligations to a minimum.
Find clients whose management style aligns with your dream.
Clients come in different shapes and styles. Some clients love to hold multiple meetings in the middle of the day, making sure you are on board with everything they say. Others couldn't care less. I’ve had a few clients who disappear for weeks at a time, thank me for my work, and then start up another project - only to disappear once more. I like those clients the best.
You don’t need a lot of clients to keep your freelance business afloat. You just need a few good ones. If you are working with a client who gives you a surprise project when it’s a perfect day for kayaking, you might want to reevaluate the benefit of pursuing that business relationship.
I am in no way advocating leaving any of your clients up the creek without a paddle. If you have decided that your client’s management style doesn’t jive with your dream, wait until you have received positive feedback on the project to bring up your concern. Try to work something out, but if it doesn’t happen, don’t worry. There are plenty of clients out there who are just as allergic to meetings as you are. You just need to spend the time it takes to find them.
You should never have to choose between your work and your dreams. Elance gives us a kind of control over our lives that was previously impossible. As more jobs move from the office to the cloud, we are all given the opportunity to structure our schedules however we see fit. For those of us who work hard and keep the lines of communication open, this means being able to do more of what we love when the time is right.
I never thought I would find myself half way across the world in New Zealand, snowboarding almost every day and telling people on the chairlift that I work on the Internet. I am living the dream because of Elance. You can too.
About the Author:
Ted Bendixson is a freelance copywriter and snowboarding enthusiast. When he isn’t busy crafting copy or learning how to do a double backflip, he’s taking photos of his adventures and helping clients with his blog.