The Born Freelancer Reaches 100

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Today marks my 100th post.bornfreel2

This may not seem like anything special to you but I can clearly remember finishing my very first post only a few years ago and thinking, “What on earth do I write about next”?

So I had to dig deep within inside myself and come up with a lot more on a lot more than I even knew I knew about. This column is living proof of the adage, “Write about what you know”.

While we can endlessly argue the quality of that knowledge, I think I can comfortably assert that freelancing is the one constant factor in my adult life, probably the only one, that I could have written about with such dedication and firsthand experience. Much has changed but so much more has remained the same. 

Most importantly, serious full-time freelancing is not just a career, it is a lifestyle choice.

When I look back over these 100 posts I think I have tried to convey that more than anything else. It is a way of living – the way of living – for many of us that provides a freedom, an empowerment, well worth all the hassles and shortcomings and sacrifices we must make to live it. I would never change it despite its many accompanying intermittent periods of economic and emotional turmoil. 

What I have tried to share with you over these 100 posts are the many and varied reasons why I feel this to be so.

I also hope that I have given you some useful solutions to problems I have encountered along the way that might be helpful in charting your own unique journey over the sometimes treacherous freelancing terrain.

What has changed

Number One on my list: Technology.

Technology is ever evolving. Our abilities to make sense of new developments and then take advantage of them in our work to empower us has always put freelancers at the head of the pack in terms of technology acquisition and implementation.

Technology has also significantly modified the marketplace. It has fragmented, diversified, multiplied, and yet somehow simultaneously diminished many real full-time freelancing employment options. Some have disappeared completely and forever. 

The pie has been corporatized, digitized, and globalized; yet pragmatically there remains only one pie no matter how inventively and how many more times you slice it. We need to more aggressively than ever before in freelancing history work towards getting a bigger slice and not allow ourselves to settle for the crumbs.

What has not changed

The type of fiercely independent person drawn to freelancing and the qualities they require.

* Flexibility. The ability to circumnavigate the ever changing requirements of the job. The ability to bend with the winds of change without breaking. 

* Resilience. The ability to keep bouncing back despite rejection or insane employers or ill health or no work at all! 

* Adaptability. The ability to constantly reinvent yourself, without fundamentally changing who you are and what you believe in.

* Tenacity. The ability to hold on and never never ever ever give up.

* Perspective. The ability to see past the immediate ups and downs and remember the big picture. Why you are a freelancer. What you love about it. Why there are no other alternatives. Why you don’t need there to be any.

* Consistency. The ability to always be the best you can be, even when you may not particularly feel up to it.

The future

There will always be a role for freelancers, no matter how media changes and evolves. 

That role will also change and evolve as the years roll by.

But freelancers need to increasingly stand together to fight for rights once taken for granted in the past, now slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) being eroded.

Foremost on my list, freelancers must immediately fight to keep copyright over our freelance work. Repurposing work is our meal ticket tomorrow. It is one of the key reasons we are freelancers – we can control/resell our own creative output.

To lose that right is to lose not only philosophically a huge component of what makes freelancing so attractive, it is to lose an extremely invaluable property –  perhaps our most uniquely irreplaceable commercial asset.

Also, some corporate media is in the process of demeaning us and our work by reducing us to mere drone-like lowly-paid (if at all) “content” fillers – which is an insult to the intelligence of every working freelancer as well as every media consumer. Technology will allow many of us to bypass such draconian filters when necessary and to find our own audiences who will appreciate our unique voices.

Now is the time to devise and implement new revenue-producing paradigms to make these platforms into viable options to devote ourselves to with an expectation of fair compensation for a fair day’s work.

There has never been a more important time for freelancers to band together to fight for our collective rights and to explore new revenue streams. Joining a relevant guild like the CMG might be the best investment you will ever make in yourself professionally in 2017.

Congratulations to Joanne Gutknecht

Joanne is the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based first time radio dramatist who has won the BBC World Service 2016 Playwriting Competition with her original radio drama, “Playing With Fire”.

I’d written about the BBC World Service radio drama competition previously on this site and mused aloud why shouldn’t a Canadian win it? I am so proud and impressed that a fellow Canadian has done just that. (Doubly so, since our own national public radio service lamentably no longer develops or showcases the genre.)

Of course it takes talent and hard work but Joanne proves that you never know what you can achieve unless you try. The difference between those who just dream and those who succeed is that the latter tried. Oh – they dreamed too. Big dreams. But then they put those dreams into gear and tried. 

Joanne is one such a shining example who totally inspires me. She should inspire you too.

Closing credits

Many thanks to my editors over these 100 posts for making them much more readable – especially my current editor Rachel Sanders.

A special extra thanks to Karen Wirsig who commissioned me in the first place and who helped to name me. Without her initial faith and intuitive support none of these 100 posts would have ever happened.

And finally, thanks to you for reading any or all of my 100 posts. It’s been a pleasure. If you’ve missed any they can be easily accessed through this site’s archives. Just click “The Born Freelancer” link up there and to the right of this column. Between us I think we can start to sort out whatever situation you may be facing.

This freelancing life is many things but it is never dull. I look forward to continuing our conversation about it sometime later in the New Year. 

Meanwhile, I wish you and yours all the best of the Holiday Season and a Happy and Healthy (and prosperous even!) 2017…

Posted on December 16, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: ,

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