I’ve been a freelancing creative for over 20 years now. Sometimes all of my income has come from freelance creative work and other times I have had additional employment at the same time in order to grease the financial wheels.
Due to buying a new flat, I took a contract teaching three days per week at a music college this past year. It seemed to me that economy was really shaky at the moment and with all of the expenses of moving and setting up a new home that having a monthly income that I could count on for awhile would be a sound financial decision.
Sometimes a balance has to be struck between your creative teenager (who just wants to sit around in his underwear being creative) and your parental hunter/gatherer (who wants to know that the mortgage and credit card bills can be paid and that your belly will be full). It’s a balancing act all the time between these two polar opposites.
So in this situation I went for the parental hunter/gatherer and took the 20 hour a week teaching job in order to make ends meet. It was a wise choice. I actually got a lot out of the teaching, I had really nice students, and I learned as much from teaching as they learned from me.
But when you are a part-time lecturer you face a gaping void.
That’s called summer. When the pay ends.
There has been a monthly cheque for the last 8 months which covered all the bills. And this month is the last cheque.
With so many purchases to be made I haven’t saved as much money as I had intended, so I am facing several months without work and unfortunately I don’t also have several months income saved up to meet them head on.
What to do?
First off, I remind myself that this is the creative life. This is the freelance life. If I’m not prepared to confront this, then I need to get a regular full time job and accept both the pros and cons that go with that.
But I just am not made for that. As my friend says, “I don’t breed well in captivity.”
I have had full time jobs in the past and I just felt like I was suffocating. But the flip side of freelance freedom is the panic attacks which come with facing the void.
When faced with most situations, I often think the best starting place is to go back to basics. Before you go searching for a new solution, take a look at what has worked for you in the past.
What’s in your bag of tricks that you have used before?
Keeping the faith
I need to get some fresh marketing out there, letting people know that I am available for some work, look at how I can reconnect with my existing networks and to expand my network to include new potential clients, budget the money I do have to make sure I can make it last as long as possible and most importantly KEEP THE FAITH.
I’ve been here before. I will be here again. This is the path I have chosen. I have never gone hungry, I have never defaulted on payments. I have always managed to find work whenever I have needed it in the past. So I need to have faith that once again I will be provided for.
That doesn’t mean I can sit back and eat chocolate, but it also means that going into a spastic panic isn’t going to help either. A bit of time reflecting, licking my wounds, and coming up with a proper plan to go forward is never time wasted.
Summer’s coming. I can trim back my expenses (more picnics, less dinners out. Walk instead of taking the tube, etc). I can get in touch with people who I have been too busy to speak with over the past 8 months. I can ask them if they know of any work to be had.
I can update my blogs, websites and spend some time on social media. Most jobs come from people you know, so it’s time to reach out to them.
It’s time to find my nerves of steel and prepare myself for the unknown.
And once I wander into that darkness, who knows what I might just find there? It could be something fantastic. That’s the joy of our freelance life, something great can be lurking just around the dark corner.
What’s your best tip for keeping the faith?