Self-esteem in self-employment

This was inspired by this opinion piece in the New York Times on being a freelance artist/entrepreneur:

As a freelance writer myself, I have to agree with my fellow writer of the above-mentioned article, Mr. Tim Krieder.

I constantly see advertisements for writing jobs ranging from just pennies to just above minimum wage.

There are several catch phrases that you’ll see advertised:

-exposure: they aren’t paying, but you’ll get exposure
-internship: they aren’t paying, but you’re getting experience. Personal note: Internships is the new slave labor of the business world-especially online.
-build your resume: they aren’t paying, but you will have clips for your portfolio

My advice to new freelancers is to select an opportunity to get some experience with ONE source-TWO at the most. I have done this and it is valuable. After all, it’s silly to expect top dollar when you have no experience and no track record of excellence…

But with that said, let me also say this: it’s equally as silly to expect someone you’re not paying a dime to for their time and talent to do the work of someone with the experience and the track record of excellence, either!

I have done “internships” where I was expected to do a full workload, complete with rewrites and critiques. Let’s be real: if you ain’t paying, shut up!

Okay, let’s soften that: If you aren’t paying, then have a realistic set of expectations.

Why? Because the person is donating their time in a world where time is money and that time, energy and focus could be used for better purposes-i.e. making them money!

The author of the article does a great job articulating the conundrum freelancers find themselves in. He so accurately describes the marketplace and how the internet-as awesome as it is-has also made what we used to call “content” obselete. I don’t understand how there are so many people online asking writers to “whip up” content for nothing. I guesss they think it’s easy. Or they are just poverty-conscious and don’t want to pay. We pay for what we value.

But I’m more focused on the solution. because it’s easy to bitch about it but harder to actually innovate. The only constant in life is change itself and the reality is, economies change. What was a highly valued service one year may be obsolete the next. Our job as creative people-if we truly are creative-is to create our own niches and revenue streams as times change. We have to put our thinking caps on, here. I’m talking to everybody, here-not just writers. The call is for us to begin wrapping up all the pouting and commiserating (as good as it feels to nurse our wounds) and start redirecting that energy and dissapointment into reinventing ourselves.

That takes faith. And work. And a working faith. It takes vision, discipline and focus. It’s time to break free from the poor, starving artist paradigm. Or the economy’s bad paradigm. Or the “poor man’s fate” paradigm.

The good news is that most people aren’t willing to do this, so those of us who do will stand out immediately. Think about it this way: in a down economy, is the amount of money and resources any less than in an up economy? Really think about it. The answer is no. A so-called recession, depression or “down” economy just means the resources are changing hands. But because people are so complacent and comfortable (not excluding myself here) what happens is we get hit. It’s like all the blood in your body rushes to your head and you get lightehaded. Kind of..

My point is that money is energy and it isn’t disspearing during so-called hard times. It just is rushing to another place. The challenge is for us to be aware of what’s going on and being producers instead of just consumers. Successful businesses stay successful by staying ahead of the game and looking ahead five years (or more) to anticipate the changing trends and economic changes on their way.

And we must do the same if we want to be successful too. In the last few months I have subscribed to a business magazine to keep in the know and study the trends for holes or gaps that need to be filled. With every change, there are new needs created. For example, with the explosion of online businesses, merchant account companies like Paypal filled the gap for online shopping needs.

So, I agree- it sucks out there. People are poverty-conscious. But I also understand the infinite potential, too. A good start would be a shift in consciousness from “lack-based” thinking to a prosperity, winning mentality.

Until next time.

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