I talked about starting The Gig Life awhile back. It’s been a little over six months and definitely has had its ups and downs.
A few questions I really enjoy from people:
- So, are you still unemployed?
- You’re not working, right?
- How’s it going? :look of pity:
- How the heck do you even find business?
- You’re just doin’ your own thang then? :dismissive hand motion:
- Must be awesome to have so much free time!
- What DO you even do?
- Do you just watch tv and sit on the couch while working all day?
- Is sleeping in amazing?
- How do you do it? I wouldn’t be able to deal with no money and instability like you.
Aren’t they fun?
Being self-employed isn’t being “unemployed.” I work hard every day, have clients, and even my taxes have an option for self-employed. The IRS thinks it’s a thing (blah), so you should too.
How do I find business? I network like it’s the last day earth will have others inhabiting it but me and I need all the human contact and knowledge I can get. It’s exhausting, but the majority of my business has come from my network. And the business that hasn’t come from my network has now become part of my network and referred other business to me. Whew, see how that works? Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart or those afraid to ask for something. Get out there and talk to people, ask for advice, ask for that referral. See more about this below.
What do I do? Well, a lot of things. I run a business. Specifically, my services include strategy (digital, brand, content, social, marketing), copywriting, and some project/account management. I also do business development/sales. Duh.
Watching TV and sleeping in—ahh, that sounds delightful. When I started doing this, I would get my ass out of bed every day as if I was going to the office. I left the house, no matter what. I tried to have at least one meeting a day, and if I didn’t I was at a coffee shop. I needed to keep that consistent schedule for motivation. Did I fall off a little for awhile? Well, yeah. No one is perfect. But I got back on track. And now I have two “in-office” gigs that put me working on site five days a week. So, no. I don’t sleep in or watch TV all day. When you figure out how to get paid to do that, please let me know.
The reality is: it’s not easy or comfortable, but it’s fulfilling.
I have a few solid consulting projects that keep me busy and a steady flow of income filtering in (hey, I really like these gigs too). I’ve sold a couple projects and retainers to supplement the steady consulting projects. I’m busy and getting to the point of needing to decide when is too much. But that point up there about “instability” can be debilitating. So, saying “yes” is my current method.
No, I haven’t figured out the health insurance thing (thanks, America).
No, I haven’t fully caught up from the first few months of starting out (thanks, student loan debt).
You know what else is hard? Outsourcing some work. I’m not a designer or a developer, so I inevitably need to get friends involved to fill in those gaps. And working with friends is great. Since I’m so busy and selling so much right now, I’m on the brink of needing to figure out how to outsource a good deal of work but still make money. Which is why I’m starting my own agency full of freelancers. Do I have the details worked out? Hell no. Figuring out a contract model that works and ensures that I get a percentage of the sale while also paying everyone very fairly isn’t something that can be done in a day or a week. Hell, even a month? But I’ll get there. I have the connections to continue to bring business in and want to keep tossing some of that to friends.
I’m good at business development/sales, but I’ve always shunned it because of how it makes me feel. Now that I’m the one responsible for the work (and my network), I can actually feel great about selling something I believe in.
Will that plan change in a month? Possibly. But at the moment, it makes sense. Mainly because I’m already doing it, just informally. And if you know me, I like good process to help remove the ickiness and questions from a sensitive situation. So, we’ll see where this goes.
OH. And a major point that you all need to listen very closely to before talking to your friends that are self-employed: don’t judge their business decisions. They have a great business they’ve built but the perfect salaried gig comes along and they take it? Good for them. It must have felt right at the time. They have one business but feel a shift happening that morphs it into another business? Way to be adaptable! They have a few side businesses? Yeah, well, residual income helps pay the bills while building their dream.
Taking risks is scary, but for some of us, it’s worth it.
Being self-employed and/or chasing your dream is hard. So is self-promotion. Building up your friends? Easy! I’m going to do a little bit of everything here:
Check out my side business full of snarky t-shirts and accessories here.
Rachel Mooney is the face behind the vintage dream that is Stay High Vintage. An Etsy shop full of all of your wildest vintage dreams.
Jay Clouse is always preaching to be shameless. I appreciate it because it’s hard for me. Want to know what else he thinks? Sign up for his daily newsletter here.
Lucas LaTour is doing 6am wakeup calls with some great content. You can sign up here.