As freelancers, we all need inspiration. Inspiration for the craft or work we do, which is often creative. But also inspiration for the freelancing itself.
Let’s face it, we’ve all had low points as freelancers. Working on your own all day can be tough. Days when you have no work and all you can do is send out pitches or replying to ads, doing your best to sound confident while your self-belief evaporates a little more with each rejection, are even tougher.
On days like that, it’s easy to look with envy at friends who work 9 to 5: They get paid even when there’s nothing much to do, and when they finish for the day they forget about work. They even get pension contributions. But as freelancers, we are the ones who are usually viewed with envy. So if we must look to someone else and their success to remind us of what we’re striving towards, let it be our fellow self-employed souls.
Here are five freelancers, couples’ microbusinesses or self-employed lifestyle-oriented workers who remind us of how good working for yourself can be.
Lawyer and business advisor, speaker and author, Jo-Ná Williams has a lot of strings to her entrepreneurial bow. And let’s face it, she’s clearly ridiculously talented. But she’s also got to where she is now by focusing on her passions: she studied law because she wanted to help fellow artists and other freelancers after a bad experience as a backing vocalist, when she was neither credited nor paid for her work. She became a highly successful business adviser, but once again realized that she needed to follow her instincts and passions to build the life she really wanted.
She says: “After having so much success working with amazing entrepreneurs and business owners around the world, having travelled the country speaking, being interviewed and able to lend my gifts as a lawyer and business strategist to make my clients millions of dollars (which I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do), I started to hate my law firm. I love helping my clients, and I love the law, but the freedom that most entrepreneurs said they had, I didn’t feel.”
Scottish mum Cara didn’t want to return to full-time work after the birth of her first son, so she decided that taking on a part-time job cleaning would give her just enough money, and more time to spend with her new family. It turned out, however, that these was quite a demand for trustworthy and reliable cleaners in her local area. Having established her reputation, Cara was soon getting more enquiries from potential clients than she alone could service.
Cara’s business, Domestic Matters, was soon employing several other freelance cleaners. Now with two sons, she’s busier than ever. She says it was her experience of motherhood that inspired the business:
“As a mother of two, I know that for all of us, the real priority is our children,” she says. “Cleaning, on the other hand, is something we do because we have to. For most mums, work falls somewhere in between – hopefully we enjoy our work and get satisfaction from it, but we’d love to have more time with our children, especially when they are young. I know I’m lucky to have my own business when I see how hard juggling all these priorities can be for mums who go out to work every day.”
James Camastra has been in the fitness industry for over two decades. Armed with an MS in Exercise Science and Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), he started Progressive Personal Training in 2004. Not long after he expanded and partnered with long-time friend and renowned fitness expert, Antonio Sini. This dynamic duo, along with their team of highly educated trainers, have trained a wide variety of New Yorkers, helping people meet their personal fitness goals, or recover from injuries.
Antonio says: “We work with all sorts of clients, from those training for decathlons, to clients who have Parkinson’s. Because of our extensive knowledge and education, we often get referrals from Physical therapists who trust we have the skill to help. That really says something about PPT’s personal training.”
From childhood Matthew Laznicka always found solace in drawing and painting the images inspired which his favourite science-fiction movies and comic books inspired. After high school he attended The Milwaukee Institute for Art & design, got himself a degree in illustration, and never looked back.
His talent and passion for retro-style drawing has seen Matthew build up an impressive client list, including Edios, GQ, MacUser, IBM Systems, Simon & Schuster, Mercedes Benz, FHM Magazine and Volvo. Yeah, that’s a pretty impressive set of clients.
When not illustrating he’s spending time with family, camping, old movies, and stop-animation. His portfolio is worth a look to see the volume of what is clearly very fun work a freelancer can do.
Including Peter Lovisek as a freelancer is pushing it a bit, because his Fossil Realm shop is a serious business now and he goes by the title of President and CEO. But it didn’t start that way. It started with a kid who loved looking for fossils.
It helped that Peter’s parents ran a science camp that had a gift shop attached. That store became a magnet for mineral and fossil collectors across Ontario. As Peter became more involved in the family business, he saw an opportunity to reach collectors across the globe through the web, initially using eBay. In 2012, Peter launched FossilRealm.com, a modern and innovative e-commerce website. Today the company is a leader in the online world and its world class fossil and mineral collection is housed in two warehouses and a showroom.
These five examples of people who made a successful business out of doing something they love are just a drop in the ocean: in the US today, there are around 55 million freelancers, and the number is growing every year.
So when you’re having a tough day and find yourself looking on with envy at regular employees, remember: they’re almost certainly sat at their desks wishing that they didn’t have to take orders, hang around the office even when there’s no work, or do the boring tasks their boss doesn’t like. In fact, the statistics suggest many of them are dreaming of being freelancers!
This blog was written by Dominic Jeff, business writer
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