One of the things that I’ve consciously done since I started freelancing is to build my own virtual watercooler.
As you can see from my previous posts, I was never the natural networker. In fact, I now often describe my networking at previous office-based jobs as ‘whatever events were offering free cake and time out of the office.’ As you can probably tell, I didn’t see much ROI from it as an activity.
Fast forward to my new working life as a remote worker and freelancer and – guess what? – networking is something that plays a big part in everything I do. And my favourite part of it? Organising a virtual coffee with really cool people around the world.
So there I was, having a virtual coffee with the very cool and lovely Kat Loughrey. We were talking about freelancing generally, what we see in our working futures and where we get our blog ideas from. Talk turned to other freelancers and how it is often the case that you compare yourself to others.
My comment was ‘freelancing is like running, you don’t know where anyone else has started or how they’ve trained, so how can you compare yourself to them?’ Kat’s response? ‘Now that’s a blog idea!’
So, without further ado, here is the aforementioned blog. How is freelancing like running? And if you are going to run a freelance marathon what do you need to do to get training?
Freelancing Is A Marathon. Start Training For the Long Haul.
Despite the fact that the London Marathon was founded as an event for amateur runners, no one turns up on the day without having trained. Well, I hope that’s the case!
If you want to go the distance as a freelancer then you need to be playing a long game. Training is essential. By that I mean a few different things:
- Physical and mental well-being – being physically and mentally fit is the basis of your business as a freelancer. If you aren’t in good health, then your business won’t be either.
- Train for effectiveness – think about how you work best. When do you have the most energy? Do you work best alone or at a co-working space? Get your environment set up to help you be successful.
- Plan to succeed – use your time effectively. Think about your time management and how you can make the best use of your time. As a freelancer this is your key resource, so plan to use it well.
- Invest in the long term from day one – train to be the freelancer that you want to be in the future. Think about how best to network and build a community around you. It might not seem like a priority when you are first looking for work but over time these are the things that will bring you long-term benefits, so start investing time in them now.
Try different ways to train and seeing what works for you. Try out the Pomodoro technique for your time management, or a new workout at your gym. These are the things that will get you fit to take on the challenge that is freelancing.
You Don’t Know Where The Person Running Past You Started From
When I’m out running I often see other runners. Most of the time they are running past me. Sometimes they are coming towards me, and we greet each other with a sweaty out-of-breath nod as we pass. And sometimes I’m lucky enough to be the one overtaking.
Whenever I go past someone, especially when I overtake, I always think the same thing. Don’t get smug because you passed them, you don’t know where they started. We all have off days when we run slower. We have days when we fly around our chosen course.
You might be out for a quick 5km, running past someone who is on mile 9 of a 10 mile long run. You didn’t start at the same place when you set out on your run.
It is the same when you are freelancing. There is no point in comparing yourself to anyone. They might have started freelancing last week, when you’ve been established for years. Or the other way round. They might have a strong background in blog writing, but be publishing their first YouTube video.
Train For The Distance You Want to Run
Some people love to sprint. They want to run flat out over a short distance and collapse into a heaving pile at the end. Others want to run further and longer, pushing their limits with ultra-marathons. You need to know what distance you are looking to run in order to train properly for it.
It is the same in content and social. There are so many ways to produce content and get a social buzz going, the best way to establish yourself as a freelancer is to specialise in the area/niche/channel that is your passion.
You might have a niche that you love working in or a specialist interest that drives your community work. You might be an expert in all things Snapchat. Focusing on the work that you want to produce gives your offering clarity and shows people what you are passionate about.
So there it is, the running/freelancing blog I needed to write, thank you Kat! Let me know your thoughts, and where you see crossovers with your hobbies and freelance life.