Fellow Webcomic Alliance member Dawn Griffin tossed this question out on Twitter the other day:
“Would you rather have a steady, reliable job that you simply tolerate, or do what you love but be terrified about bills and insurance?”
Easy answer for me: Do what you love. Not so easy for most folks, so let me try to ease the pain and tear off that band-aid most folks wear. And that’s the pain of giving up a steady paycheck vs. the ups and downs of freelance work.
First off, I disagree with the fact that Dawn put in the word “terrified” into that question, because it’s not terrifying IF YOU PLAN! Let me say it again: IF YOU PLAN. Like anything you do, you can’t just jump into a freelance career and expect to be floating in cash the next day. It will not happen, no matter what may fall into your lap.
I could end the article right here simply by stating: Plan and promote, and you’ll be successful in your freelance career.
But what you REALLY should be terrified of is being laid off or fired from your job. The days of working for a company all your life, getting the “gold watch” at retirement and die happy are gone. That’s the really scary part. A company today will not think twice about protecting its shareholders over keeping you on. So why slave away for nothing?
So ask yourself: How did the company you currently work for get to where it is? Luck? Rich parents? Insurance fraud? No. They planned and then WORKED that plan, making adjustments along the way.
Then the real question is this: Do you want to work at a job where you’re making SOMEONE else money, or do you want TOTAL control of your life and income? That makes it much easier, doesn’t it? There’s no fear there, simply logic. Why the hell toil away at a job… especially a job you’re not in love with… knowing that at a whim your employer could let you go for any reason. They can, and they will if they think it will save THEM money.
Let me give you an example. There’s a rule in Vegas: The house always wins. It’s true too. Why? They came up with a plan which was to design games that give the players a false pretense that they can win. But the odds are always in favor of the house. Everyone’s heard stories of folks who took their last $100 and walked out with tens of thousands from Vegas . For every one of those, there are a MILLION suckers who lost their shirts gambling. The house always wins.
The key to your success is to become the house. Be the “designer of the game” and you’ll be in control. Now I’m not saying open a gambling house. No, it’s a metaphor. So don’t write me nasty emails when you get busted for running an illegal poker game in your garage. We’re talking about freelance work here. 🙂
Most people let their fears run them. They have all these “What if…?” type questions: “What if I pay the mortgage late?” “What if the furnace breaks?” “What if I get sick?” These are ALL negative statements that you feed your brain. So your brain, being only so smart, BELIEVES those statements and makes them come true for you. You can’t live your life in fear. What if your house gets hit by a falling meteorite? OH MY GOD! So calm down and think about it rationally and leave those nasty “What if…” questions behind.
If you truly do your homework, you’ll be successful. Don’t let the statistics about businesses failing in the first year fuel your fears. But, take heed and PLAN. Then when that plan doesn’t go perfectly (it won’t), be sure to stay calm and have an alternative plan at hand. Soon, you’ll become so good at making plans, and adjusting them, that you won’t notice you’re also making money.
Will you be rich? No. But was “being rich” in your dream job statement? No.
So, what is it that YOU want to do that you love? I doubt the words “Be rich” will part your lips. More than likely it will be “Draw my comic” or “Make great art”. Notice how “be rich” wasn’t in there? But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money and live a good life. I’ve done it for nearly 30 years now. You will have your failures… I have. How you react to those failures and move on will be the true test if you can survive as a freelance person.
I know this is not for everyone, but I hear SO MANY folks complain about their jobs and say “I want to make my comic my day job.” Then do it. Stop talking and start doing it. For it is true: If you build it, they will come. I’m proof of that.
I come on hard about this subject and I know there are lots of people whose path in life is NOT to be self-employed. It is very hard work and for many the risks out-weigh the benefits. Do a simple PRO and CON list. You know, put on the PRO side “Be my own boss” “Total control of my career” and put in the CON side “Holy crap there’s no money in the beginning” “High liability” and see which column is shorter.
If you take the fears out of the CON side, I think you’ll see that the PRO side will win. If not, then accept that and find a way to do what you love as a hobby. That is totally fulfilling as well.