A Review of My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman
I love books published by Seal Press. Take a glance at just a few of their titles (e.g. Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty and Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy) and you’ll see their readers are looking for an edgier take on a number of topics. Their “Career & Business” books offer the same frank discussion when it comes to self-improvement in our work lives. I’ve often thought about sending them my book proposal, loosely based on my Sleeping With Money posts, but alas, this would mean I’d actually have to finish the book proposal. As you might suspect, my so-called freelance writing life has not quite materialized. But there’s help for those who dream about making a living by pursuing creative work.
It comes in the form of My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman. I was introduced to Goodman when I interviewed her last year at BlogHer just after the release of her first book, The Anti-9-to5 Guide. She’s what I’d call a cube-fleeing rock star. A woman that carved out a life (translation: makes a respectable living!) by turning her freelance dreams into a reality. And she’s been doing this for over 15 years.
By the way, she looks about 35. Or maybe 37. Why is this relevant? Well, I know tons of women in their late forties and fifties who were pushed out of corporate America and they sort of were forced to start a “consulting” business. But Michelle chose to leave. And she did it early on in her career. She’s made the freelance life work for her and all the mistakes made in her twenties are what make her an expert today.
Goodman’s book is broken into three sections with flashy titles and chapters, but in the end it really just boils down to how you can achieve these goals:
Be true to yourself. Work when and how and with whom you want. Treat your clients well. Charge what you’re worth. Keep setting new goals for yourself. Branch out into new niches. Learn new tricks and acquire new skills. Plant your ass in the chair and make time to refine your craft. Read interviews with your career heroes. Follow the news of your field. Take classes on anything that excites you. Go to book readings, art exhibits, rock shows or whatever else inspires you. Rub elbows with like-minded indie professionals at happy hours and conferences. Encourage, cajole, and collaborate. Celebrate your wins. Learn from your defeats, but don’t dwell on them. And above all, remember to have fun.
What I like best about the book is that its foundation is based on money. Goodman calls it the craft plus commerce concept. And let’s face it; if your freelance activities aren’t making you money, then it’s really more like volunteering. And jeez, take if from me: I’m the poster child for volunteering outside the day job. Umm, has anyone noticed we’re all volunteers here at Queercents? But this is the difference (at least for me): I don’t really mind the “cube” I sit in everyday. My career has been good to me. And Queercents has been a wonderful creative outlet that makes me feel like I’m helping people in the LGBT community. That’s currency I don’t earn in my day job. So my “freelancing” serves what I want to get out of it at the moment. But many people feel differently and want to make the break from their day jobs.
Take our own, Paula Gregorowicz as an example. She left her corporate IT job last year and has chronicled the journey in many of her posts: From starting her own business to dealing with self-employment taxes to learning how to maintain boundaries with her freelance schedule. She’s what I’d call Goodman’s target audience.
That said, even I can apply a lot of Goodman’s advice to my Queercents pursuits. Like when she said, “You need to give yourself a promotion every now and then. Because if you don’t, who will?” Amen, sister! Every now and then, I need to step back and look at how I’m spending those ten hours “freelancing” every weekend on Queercents. I’m certain though Goodman isn’t complaining that some of those hours were spent on writing this book review. Time well spent, reading and writing it, I have to admit. So if any of this is speaking to you, then buy the book!
I’m giving away my review copy to the best comment in the comments section below. By the way, it’s worthwhile to note that just because Seal Press and Goodman’s book is billed as advice for women, well… don’t let this scare away the men. It’s relevant information for everyone and the “gender-specific” stuff is just marketing. So boys and girls, feel free to leave your comments!
Photo credit: Goodman’s blog.