Freelancing has many plusses: Setting your own schedule, working a job you love (where you get to be the boss), setting your own hourly rate, and many, many more perks. One of the things that people do find to complain about is the lack of work companionship. This lack of work-friends sends many a freelancer to seek out writing groups like CC: PDX, and we are quite happy about that. Freelancers tend to come together in shared offices, too. Portland has a number of shared spaces, and if the Conclave gets its way, we will have our own space in the future. We all like the idea of pooling resources, and having a place to collaborate without having to “go to the office,” something that most freelancers dread the idea of.
Freelancing has many twists and turns. I was fortunate to get a long-term contract last year, mostly on-site. It made me feel like I was going back on some of the basic tenants of freelancing; I would be working for someone again. One of the things I was looking forward to was being on a team again. I really enjoy working with people; it was always one of the things I liked most about working in restaurants and bookstores. There were times where personalities clashed, but there was always room for growth and understanding.
I had some anxiety about going into an office style workspace, especially one that was so technical (I’m a technical writer, and this is a big company). I am a little, well; I don’t exactly fit into the traditional office environment. To calm myself down, I did a little research and came across an image that really resonated with me. I feel like it applies to freelancing and the more traditional office space working relationships. At any rate, it made me feel better about sitting in an office with the same people day after day.
The idea comes from author, Neil Gaiman’s University of Arts commencement speech. I try to adhere to all three circles, but if I had to choose two categories, as Neil Gaiman suggests most people fall into, they would be: I do good work and I’m nice. I tend to get lost frequently, so being on time is something that I slip up on. I might have a tendency to get distracted by projects and lose track of time too, maybe.
Mr. Gaiman says,
You get work however you get work. People keep working in a freelance world — and more and more of today’s world is freelance — because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
It was this bit of advice that I took to heart going into my on-site office job, and I have incorporated it into my freelance work.
A last bit of advice from Neil Gaiman, “Go out and make good art.” It seems to me, that anyone looking to break into the freelance world can take these ideas into consideration. If you work onsite, in your home, in a shared office, or however you work, make good art (work), be nice, and be as on time as possible. I guarantee it will make your work life easier.