At the risk of starting an intra-office war between cat and dog lovers at Crunch HQ I think we all, deep-down, know that cats rule and dogs drool. For this reason I have decided to write this response to Jon’s ludicrous piece about the freelancing tips he’s gleaned from his dog. Frankly, such bias towards dogs should not be allowed to continue. So, for the sake of balance, here is what I’ve learnt about freelancing from the clowder of cats who live on my street.
The importance of being seen
There are at least four cats living on, or very close to, my street. There is a rarely a time I don’t spot one of them mewing at me from a tree or staring gloomily from under a car. One of them, at least, is always wanting their head scratched by cooing passers-by.
This can be on my walk home from work in the evening, or at 4am on a Sunday when one of the poor, unwilling creatures becomes my personal psychiatrist as I garble and burble the evening’s problems at them.
The point is, they’re nearly always out there and, by doing that, they’re getting plenty of attention. If you’re a freelancer who’s only looking for jobs at certain times, you can end up missing out on work. There’s plenty of times where I’ve not searched for work one evening, preferring to watch 8 episodes of Seinfeld instead, only to discover in the morning I missed out on some work that would have been perfect.
By not being on the lookout, even for a brief period of time, I missed out.
Getting on with your rivals
I’ve never seen any of these cats fight one another. There’s always a mild air of distrust about them, but they seem to tolerate each other and they’re rarely separated by any considerable distance.
More cats, more cat coverage, more cat scratches. If a local happens to be attracted by one of them, suddenly they’re surrounded by four furballs all vying for attention. Everyone’s a winner (bar allergy sufferers caught in the crossfire).
Chances are, unless your freelance work is incredibly niche, you’re going to have competitors going after the same work as you. This could lead to friction and arguments, but that would be useless. You get nothing out of that. You should make an effort (as a lot of people do) to get to know the people who share your field.
Local networks can be an immense wealth of knowledge and contacts. It’s a matter of helping each other out when you can. It’s always good to have someone with whom to complain about clients and blow off some steam, as well.
Knowing when to be cautious
Occasionally these cats, that I daresay are close and dear friends of mine, treat me as though I’m going to bash them to death with my boots and turn them into a coat.
They’ll give me this weird look as I walk towards them, and then suddenly bolt up a tree or disappear entirely. On these occasions they act like I’m the most terrifying thing they’ve ever come across. Then, next time I see them, they’re all purrs.
This fickleness often makes me question why I don’t hate these cats with my very being, but it also teaches us about freelancing.
Not every job is worth taking. Some may even seem like they’re perfect for you, but be careful not to just jump in without giving it some proper thought. Be sure to get all the information you need to ensure you can do the best job you can.
Double and triple check there isn’t some personal event in your calendar that’ll cause you to miss a deadline. If something seems a bit off about a client, see if you can find someone who has worked for them before to double check they’re not going to stiff you when the work is done. Be careful, and live to freelance another day!