Freelancing: Means To An Emotional End

Are you feeling funky, lethargic, or downright negative? If you haven't heard by now, six planets in the solar system are moving backwards, which means everything is out of sync. Even though Mercury retrograde is over August 19, communication is at an all-time low - it's getting a little crazy out here! Maybe your creative opportunities are also lacking, offset by an ongoing urge to obtain consistent work.

Welcome to the world of a freelancer. 

The pursuit of freelancing was recently brought to my attention, as it affects a creative entrepreneur's day-to-day. Freelancing, while essential for all artistic mediums, can take a serious toll on one's mental health, self-esteem and drive. As a freelancer myself, I'll never give it up, but I can also relate. So alas, this particular topic needs to be shared.

I'm a freelance writer (or contributor, as stated in the professional world), which allows me to build my portfolio up while working for multiple companies. A freelance opportunity provides you with paid, published work. Simultaneously, you're hustling to *pitch* your work to other publications, organizations and clients for hire.

Ah, there she is, sitting pretty amongst her multiple connotations and definitions: PITCH. In this context, "pitch," is the word freelance writers use to share potential concepts, ideas and angles to publications and media companies. If the story is grabbed, you've landed yourself a satisfying paid gig with an equally-satisfying byline.  "Pitch," which conveniently rhymes with another five-letter word, has caused dissonance between a freelancer's expectation and reality. For those of us that aren't aware of what pitching feels like, I will demonstrate below:

Pitching is equivalent to dating multiple people at once. You're in communication with all parties, hopeful that your message sparks enough connection to continue conversation. Yet, only a handful (if that) reply. To pitch is to double text someone... with your messages continually left on "read." Pitching someone is like using Hinge - except your ideas and approach are tied to a check - not a date. 

To pitch is to double text someone... with your messages continually left on "read."

Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic. Let me break it down this way: I pitch ideas and angles to three people a day, with follow-up emails five business days later, where I briefly state the latter. If I do that every day of each month (that's 174-186 messages sent), I only end up with a handful of replies. To top it off, a follow-up email beyond an initial reply can also end up dead in the water. So now, dear friend, you're back at square one. I don't know about you, but that sounds daunting as hell. Imagine sending that many messages to prospective partners without reply...you'd get the hint! 

Freelancing, though, is quite the opposite. Your attempted pitches must exceed your failed attempts, because making means off your passion, is, well, a creative's life. Nonetheless, when you interact with your LinkedIn and Google accounts more than actual people, uncertainty concerning your craft arrives. It's true that freelancing can subject oneself to depressive thoughts and anxiety. Freelancing breeds reduced human interaction, and one-sided initiation doesn't tend to leave the heart fulfilled. Frequent rejection is taxing on the mind, which is detrimental to more than potential revenue. However, focusing on quality over quantity directly applies to your pitching process. As a freelancer, you must believe in your level of expertise. On the other hand, habitual actions lose value over time. If you can feel a monotonous vibe in your approach, so can the editors perusing their inbox for potential hires.

So what do you do to save face, but more importantly, your head space? As much as I'd like to blame every non-positive feeling in my life on the planets and stars, Mercury retrograde ends in three days... and virtual rejection happens all year long. While freelancing is stressful at times, it's also my job (and love), so it's here to stay. I'm learning that my go-to remedy for those pesky freelance feelings is a mix of strong female energy, hot yoga and quality time with friends. Replies to my messages would be nice too, but one thing at a time. 

Just keep pitching, just keep pitching... 

 

 

 

Carly Quellman