2016 was a weird year.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was an unexpected year to say the least. 2016 just seemed to have a blanket of malaise through the full year. There were lots of ups and downs but wow a whole lot of downs. We kind of realized the world is a lot scarier than we gave it credit for. In the age of smart phones, tablets, plugging in, luxurious tech solutions shaming this and that social media memes viral marketing keeping up with the Jone distractions, we kind of got hit in the face with our own mortality, the mortality of others, and the fact that no matter how progressive we think we are as a society we make HUGE mistakes. (See what I did there?)
Freelancing in 2016 was interesting as well. We saw more freelancers join the market more than ever. It’s great that folks are once again taking it upon themselves to carve out their own niche. Isn’t that what modern society was built on? People saying NO- I got this? Creatively I had so far the best year of my career. I met so many wonderful people, worked on many great projects, and improved my portfolio in ways I couldn’t even dream of when I started in 2013. It makes me hungry to do more and hungry for the future. That being said – success doesn’t come over night. I’m personally not at all where I want to be now but instead of jumping the gun I’ve come to grips with walking before I run – even though I have a very run run run attitude. The cream always rises to the top (Oh yeah!) as they say. Freelancing has many bumps in the road but the goal should be knowing that you’re doing what you love and are able to support yourself and your family. Being in New York we have the added bonus of fighting with the city that never sleeps and wrestling it into submission because you know you can conquer whatever is out there waiting. But guess what – New York doesn’t want to beat you down. New York is the Howard “Fats” Brown (From the Twilight Zone Episode “A Game Of Pool.”) New York is the best there is BUT wants to be beaten. It needs you to alleviate the stigma that comes with it. The song rings true “If you can make it there – you can make it anywhere” and I think if you have the mindset to make it in NYC and follow through – you’ll be just fine kiddo. I encourage anyone with a passion to jump in two feet first and ruin their lives trying to make something of themselves in this city.
We lost a lot of great people in 2016 and I’d like to think we gained a lot of perspective. Life’s too short to be an asshole to anyone. Maybe we should be as good as we can to one another and hope that 2017 is the most kick ass year we can have regardless of how you feel about certain things. My mindset is to engage and rearrange. We could also use a serious overhaul on our way through life and what better time than now? I have the privilege of working with a lot of great creative folks and more often than not I get texts, emails, and have conversations regarding the same feelings across the board. Hopefully we have an artful 2017 with tons of laughs, great success, and a lot of fun. Don’t let the haters tear you down. Onward. Forward. March.
Being a freelancer can yield the ultimate highs and the ultimate lows. As a freelancer or small business owner you know exactly what I mean. Committing yourself full time to your passion can be an uphill battle but the rewards far outweigh the risks. It’s all about commitment. That being said – the more you produce and the better you hone your craft the more you should acknowledge your worth as a viable commodity for those who need your service.
That means you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Three years ago when I started my business after quitting my go-nowhere job I KNEW I had to make it work. I had no capital, was getting married, and had no clientele. Looking back on it now I’m amazed I’m here. It took equal parts stupidity, bravery, willpower, and goddamn guts. I couldn’t quit. In that first year I took any and all jobs and took any pay that came with. It didn’t matter if I was working a 6 hour shoot for $200 (My client was mixing cocktails for his family at 1pm on a Tuesday in a 6 million dollar home) or working a 4 hour party for $75 (The party was in a loft in Soho filled with pseudo celebs and hangers on) I knew I had to do the grunt work to better my portfolio, gain more experience, and ultimately charge more and get better clientele so I didn’t have to hear someone say “I’d make you a drink but I don’t want crooked pictures! ::Insert smarmy jerk laugh::” or dealing with flakey clients who no-showed or tried to chinse on an agreed upon price.
After a while of plugging away that stuff eventually falls by the wayside and through a sometimes trial by fire you start to learn quickly and know better about how to handle your business. The type of clientele you will start to get will also rise in quality. You just have to keep working at what you do, don’t sweat the competition, and offer your customers something excellent. Customer service is a huge part of this business and it will get you repeat customers time and time again. As time goes on you can raise your rates accordingly, which is great for your business but your work will come under more scrutiny from higher end clientele who want a more perfect package. That being said you need to quote rates that are firm across the board. It would be unfair for you to charge people differently unless you have those awesome legacy clients that deserve a discount here and there because they have been loyal to you.
One of the major things you need to keep in mind is to never give up and never lose hope in yourself or your work. It’s an uphill battle with many factors that may discourage you from continuing but if your passion is your work then the hard work will start paying off in spades and before you know it you’ll have established yourself. The work never stops but at some point you’ll be able to work smarter instead of harder. For example why take 5 jobs that have a payout of $200 per job when you can have two jobs that each pay $500 within a week? As your work gets better so do your rates.
A huge factor in maintaining your business and your lifestyle as a full time freelancer is your positivity. You need to remain calm and positive and keep your eye on whatever prize you have in front of you. It sounds cheesy but it works. Why do you think people are always talking about the power of positivity? Thanks for reading!
The New Year effects folks in different ways. Some get excited to start over. Some get depressed because the past year has come to an end. Most people make resolutions that they end up breaking by…ohhhh Jan 8th? (I think that’s fair, right?) Mostly the New Year is a time for reflection of the good and bad over the past year. Although this could be dangerous I think it’s good to appreciate everything you’ve gone through in the past year. With this we can rebuild and reconstruct ourselves. I’m a firm believer in an onward and upward mentality.
At 34 years old I finally realize that those cliche New Years sayings and business sayings are all true. Now I don’t know if I’m getting sentimental as I get older (even though I’ve always been sentimental) or if I’m overcoming the affected cynicism of my twenties. I may also have a different attitude about work and life because I grew up in and still live in New York. I’ve always said this city could be a big balled fist of anger and anxiety one minute and then a paradise of awesome the next. I don’t have small town sensibilities – instead just a get out of my way attitude that I share with my friends who also grew up here. Is it douchey? Maybe. But that’s all we know. It’s not a malicious thing but New Yorkers have an inherent “keep it moving, buddy” attitude. Combine that with being a freelancer and the anxiety that comes with it means the sentimentality and cliche sayings kind of go out the window and hit you at once when you finally get some time to breathe. Maybe not the best way to live but that’s all we know sometimes – especially as a freelancer. We are driven, go go go, and need to get from project to project to survive creatively and monetarily.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed toward the end of the year with project after project and some very extreme highs as well as some extreme lows. (You could associate being a creative freelancer with being a junkie. It’s feast or famine sometimes but we always want more and sometimes when things go wrong we take it personal and blame ourselves…big time.) However, I took the holiday break to consciously reflect on the past year and the things that went right and the things that went wrong. At first I was adamant about fixing mistakes going forward or not doing XYZ but doing ABC instead and it got to the point where my brain was eating itself because I didn’t have all the answers. I was creating unnecessary anxiety for myself and the New Year didn’t even begin! After a couple days of downtime and reading some excellent articles on wellness as a business owner/freelancer I decided to start from scratch as far as resolutions go and maybe throw them out the window. I decided to maybe try and adopt a different attitude toward things and think differently…maybe even think better.
Let Your Mind Go
Most of us unknowingly walk around thinking about the next thing and the thing after that with a furrowed brow deep in thought. If we let that tension and anxiety go it would lead to a clearer head and clearer thinking. It’s one thing to worry but it’s a completely poisonous thing to worry about the endless possibilities that could happen. Don’t sweat what you don’t have control over. Sometimes we need to surrender ourselves to the universe. That doesn’t mean to stop working and be a bum. It means just keep working hard at your thing, hone it, and know that good things will come your way.
No One Is Coming After You
We get so hung up on perceptions that it’s crazy. I think this is one major thing that separates leaders from the rest of the pack. They don’t worry what people think about them. As long as you’re not hurting anyone then who cares about thinking of the time you stumbled over your words at a meeting and causing yourself unnecessary anxiety. Own your self perceived flaws and move on. At the end of the day no one gives a shit and if they do then that means they’re a psychopath.
Mind Your Manners
You don’t have to engage with everything that upsets you. The best part of freewill is that you can just choose to go about your business without engaging anything! Instead of fueling your day with nonsensical anxiety and anger toward people or situations, why not just let it go and be as nice as possible. Genuinely killing people with kindness not only leads to soulful fulfillment but pretty much diffuses any situation. No one wants to be the one that yells at the nice guy.
Take Care Of Your Body
Work out a bit and stop eating like shit. You’ll feel better.
Work Harder, Smarter, Better
Sometimes we get comfortable and coast. Don’t do that. But don’t kill yourself either. Through experience you’ll find that the things you once did could be done a better more efficient way. If you really go through your routine you can fine tune things in a instant because you’ll be thinking about them for once instead of automatically doing them. Look at downtime as a blessing because you can take stock of what you’ve been doing and grow from that.
Remember The Love You Have
It’s not all about money. Money is nice. BUT money can’t replace your family, your spouse, your kids, or your roots. We get so stressed out during the day that we take that anger out on those closest to us. Instead we should find comfort in their proverbial arms while the outside world melts away. Chances are you wouldn’t be where you are without those people.
Be Firm But Don’t Be A Dick
All this talk of taking it easy and relaxing is fantastic but don’t let folks step on you. As a freelancer it can be hard to speak up sometimes. Lots of times clients or a client’s rep will speak to you as if they own your or as if they could do your job better than you can. Just firmly remind them why you were hired in the first place and if they persist then in a professional way just explain to them that their attitude leaves much to be desired. No harm no foul.
Be Who You Want To Be
What’s stopping you? Just the walls you put up yourself. Have confidence in the person you want to be or evolve into. All it takes is a bit of will power and good energy.
Send Positive Energy Outward
Take a deep breathe and exhale yourself into the universe. Just remember that you’re one being in an endless sea of space and time. You’re the only you. Spread joy, love, and positivity wherever you go. Folks will react in kind, situations will react in kind, and the universe will react in kind. Negativity and pessimism are the greatest anchors that we tow around. Let those anchors go and fly free.
Just chill out and everything is gonna be ok.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. Thanks for reading and have a happy new year guys!
(Book a shoot or two while you’re at it!)
Don’t lose your cool, kid. Keep it together.
Being a full time freelancer is tough to begin with. If you’re a full time freelancer in NYC it can be downright mortifying sometimes. Besides avoiding shady clients, net30 paychecks, and pricing yourself correctly, you are dealing with an over saturation of freelancers who could be competing for the same gigs you’re going for. As a photographer – we’re at times a dime a dozen in this city and that can be broken up into several categories depending on exactly what you’re shooting.
There will always be ups and downs and that’s a part of life. But coming back from those downs can be a bit harder to deal with. It can be a blow to your confidence when the work you do is met with either criticism or if even worse a gig ends that’s beyond your control. You would have to pick up the pieces and move on. If you’re freelancing full time and working hard then there is no reason that another door shouldn’t open. It may not happen over night but it will and you’ll get your groove back. But until then how do you stay upbeat? I’ll tell you:
Hone your craft
If you’re met with extra downtime because gigs fell through then use that time to perfect what got you those gigs in the first place. If I have downtime I look back on my past work and see how I can improve upon my style going into the future. Work hard at perfecting your skill.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to fall into a funk and self medicate with food or candy or drugs or booze. Tying one on is all well and good but don’t let it spill over into a week long bender because you’re depressed. Instead think about ways you can improve yourself. Take up something physical and monitor what you eat. It goes a long way with preserving your mental health.
Know Your Worth
If one or two gigs fall through or your phone doesn’t ring for a week – it’s not the end of the world. There are peaks and valleys to freelancing and yes the feast or famine saying can apply. If you have experienced success and can look back and see what you’ve accomplished and who you have connected with that see the good work you do then you should tell yourself it’s going to be ok – I’m worth it – and better things will come my way. Losing one gig doesn’t mean that they’ll all fall through.
Don’t Get Trapped In Your Own Brain.
Often our minds are our own worst enemy. Those thoughts that keep you up at night can spiral out of control and they could make you lose control over your anxiety or emotions – which can be bad for business. Take a second and meditate. Take a step back and realize that there are worse problems out there than whatever is going on in your brain. It’s tough not to jump to conclusions about your path but taking each day as it comes helps big time. It also makes you a better freelancers because you can adapt to more situations.
When faced with a dilemma one of the best things you can do for yourself is decompress and look at it from another point of view. As freelancers we put the biggest pressure on ourselves and are our own worst critic but we also have to know when to take a break and just be a person and not a work a holic. If you’ve suddenly gotten a gap in your calendar take the time to do the personal things you wanted to catch up on. Read a book, watch your favorite shows, buy some new shoes, or hit a new restaurant. You’ll feel better when your brain and body aren’t under the pressure you put on yourself – even if it ends up being just one day.
Be proud of who you are and what you can accomplish. Don’t ever give up the pursuit of your dreams.
This post may almost be two weeks late but that’s OK. That’s what the internet is for. 2014 was so far the best year I have had professionally. I’ve met tons of great people, worked with some amazing folks, had some fantastic opportunities, and became a better shooter. I also adopted a very die hard can do attitude and a more positive lifestyle (which my wife calls “fucking postile” (Thanks Pantera!) – Aggressive positivity.) And yes I just used parenthesis within parenthesis (I’m the writer here and I make the rules!) I’ve also come to realize that as human beings we are nothing without each other and need to spread love and kindness whenever we can. Here are some things I learned in 2014 that I want to share with you guys that might help!
1) Positive thoughts lead to positive things.
It’s true. If you are constantly negative and cynical your life will reflect that. If you know your worth, know who you are, know why people like you, know what you’re good at then that’s what counts and concentrate on the good things in your mind, which will eventually lead to better things in your life.
2) Abandon negative people.
I cut ties with a few negative folks in my life and am all the more happier. It helps. Why be stagnant when we should be moving forward?
3) The harder you work at something the more you get out of it.
That’s a simple truth.
4) Care about your health because you only have one body.
I lost 50 pounds in 2014 due to a diabetes scare. It opened my eyes to a few very important things. We should all pay attention to our habits and stick to a goal. We should lose weight and exercise because we love our bodies not because we hate them.
5) Be yourself no matter what.
I will admit to a sort of crisis of personality during a lot of 2014 between who I was, am, and want to be. I got lost in a bit of a formula and woke up one morning to abandon that mentality in order to inject myself more into everything I do.
6) It doesn’t hurt to be open, loving, and kind. Cherish the people in your life that matter.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and tell people who matter that I love them whenever I feel like. Spread that around.
A badeep badeep badeep I guess that’s all folks. Those are my two cents and even if one person reading this got something from it – I would be a very happy camper.
Live Long and Prosper.