Freelance reflections in the snow

Much as I love working from home, I can’t help thinking that if I’d still been a London commuter, I would have enjoyed a few cosy ‘snow days’ holed up in front of the telly, rather than it being business as usual (only a bit colder).

Oh well…

There’s something about heavy snow that makes everything feel still and slow, even when the trains are running.  It’s a great time to think and reflect, and over the past few days I’ve been pondering over what I really want to be known for.

I started my freelance writing career so I could spend time doing something I love: writing.  Above absolutely everything else, I want to be known for being a very good writer. 

Clearly, if you’re managing your own employment there will be lots of other tasks involved, such as basic accounting, payment chasing, sales and customer service.  Fair enough.  But particularly if you work on your own, you have to understand what it is you want to be known for, so you can devote time and focus that means you can be good enough to earn a living. 

Once you know what ‘it’ is, you then have to guard it with your life!

In my case, clients will occasionally ask me to help them out with their marketing strategies, ‘pretty up’ their communications with images and design, or make unrelated calls on their behalf.  I even received one recent request from someone who wanted me to find him jobs that best suited his skills, then write all the applications.

Flattered as I am that so many people think I must be good at marketing, design and co-ordination, these aren’t skills I want to be known for, or that I want to spend my time working on.

(Aside from anything else, I’m not a qualified marketing professional and I’ve got no eye for design – these are skills I outsource for myself, so why would I want to do a second-rate job for someone else?)

If you’re a freelancer, it’s often hard not to fall into the trap of being a ‘nice person’.  Someone obliging, who will do their best to complete whatever their clients ask.  But if you’re not focusing on what you’ve actually set out to do, you won’t improve the skills people pay you for, you won’t be happy, and your clients won’t get what they need.

I’ve worked long and hard enough on building my new career to understand that I don’t want to be known as a competent jack-of-all-trades; someone who can be relied upon to do whatever is asked of me.  I’m not even worried about whether or not people think I’m nice, as long as they also think I’m very good at writing, that I work hard and that I’m reliable. 

This is what really matters to me, and if I concentrate on actually being all of those things, everybody will benefit.

So…those are my ‘snow reflections’ this week.  What are yours?