The Frustrated Cartoonist
Sep 8 · 5 min read

“Is this worth it?”

That one big client you expected to show up in your inbox never came.

That BIG project that was GOING to happen didn’t.

Cold sweats in the middle of the night because of overthinking about bills, paying for food and getting by.

Now you’re stuck in the realm of the unknown.

“Something’s coming in. It’ll be okay,” you say to yourself while scrolling through Indeed, contemplating a “real job” with a cup of coffee you feel guilty drinking because coffee cost money.

It goes on and on like this, until, at that last minute, SOMETHING happens. Might be big, might be small, but it works. You can breathe and enjoy your damn cup o’ Joe.

Or, maybe at the last minute something DOESN’T happen and it’s back to panic mode.

This isn’t a Stephen King novel. This is reality.

Welcome to the scary world of freelancing.

It can be frightening, tough, challenging, and it’s a land with no 401K, vacation time or health benefits (until you buy them yourself, of course). While putting ourselves in a blender (on grind mode) for our passion, it’s also, yes, extremely rewarding.

And things, more than likely, do pan out eventually.

But the stuff we go through for this lifestyle…

I don’t need to spill it all out here. If you’re a freelancer, you get it. If you’re not, well, just use your imagination (as a cartoonist, I use it all day).

In my case, it’s been a life of numerous day jobs to get by, sprinkled in with fulltime freelancing from time to time. It’s taken me awhile to build-up to the point where I’m comfortable JUST freelancing — and that’s it.

Wait, there IS no comfortable. No, no, no. COMFORT isn’t in the freelancing vocabulary. Sorry.

(Thinking about what I just wrote. Comfort. Ha! Okay, moving on…)

There ARE some things to put in perspective to alleviate any fears you may experience — and probably do regularly — if you’re like me.

This sounds lame, but I believe, and have noticed, that things happen for a reason. If you feel like you’re in a good spot to ditch the day job and go “all in” freelancing, then go for it. You’re probably going to be okay.

And if not and you have to resort to getting another job for a while, it’s no biggie. Really. Think of it as temporary. I’ve gone through this dance most of my adult life and, looking around, it’s all added up to where I am now, which, I can say, I’m pretty happy with.

Of course, going all into freelancing, you might get some flak from family, friends or anyone else that doesn’t take career risks. Just remember, this is YOUR life. Proceed.

Freelancing is not for the faint of heart.

Not knowing when the next paycheck is coming in can cause panic, even when it isn’t necessary.

It’ll be okay. Because…

“IT’S SO REWARDING!” I imagine as I skip down my hallway, actively avoiding thinking about the next BIG thing to come in that hasn’t.

It is though, or I wouldn’t bother with any of this.

I write and draw cartoons for the world to see.

“For the world to see!” I look up at my ceiling and think about. While I do this, I notice a stain up there I should probably take care of.

This is kind of like my Oprah “aha moment” (does she still have those?).

What I’m doing has meaning.

Most freelancers get to produce things for the WORLD TO SEE and enjoy. Not that other professions don’t, but a lot of what we do can REALLY get out there, right? It’s stuff that, with all this effort we put into producing it, really has value.

And you know what, we’re bold people. (Notice how I bolder the word ‘bold’? Pretty clever, huh? That was a bold move. Okay…I’m done.)

We’re brave.

We’re entrepreneurs.

We take risks and accept the challenge of the unknown.

If you’re a freelancer, you’re THIS. A super being that tries things and a normal life isn’t okay. You want to live your life doing what you love, and I commend you. This shit isn’t easy.

Fear? Just stare in the face of it (nervously, sometimes) and tell it to f$%* off.

What am I doing? I’m not trying to talk you up. You already know this if you’re a freelancer. (We’re also known as business owners, by the way.)

Those little challenges that drop in from time to time about the unknown with clients, money and bla, bla, bla, they’ll happen. They can happen with “real jobs” all the time where layoffs, pay cuts and more happen regularly. (People have worked at places for decades and then get cut right before their retirement benefits. Talk about a kick in the ass.)

I mean, work isn’t perfect no matter what you’re doing.

So sure, we don’t get the stability with things like health insurance (god I wish we did though) and the joys of Summer Fridays, but we get to make the best effort we can to do what we love.

We’re our own boss. Screw the 9–5. We enjoy our freedom.

And with time, that BIG thing comes up from behind you.

Things can smooth out, and usually do with patience, hard work and dedication to your craft.

Finances can get better and well exceed anything a day job can offer.

So stand by…

Maybe it’s an unexpected client’s email pops up on your phone when you least expect it with a new project. Or a publisher wanting to talk about that book you’ve been pitching. Could it be a viral cartoon that gets noticed by a major agency and now they want to hire you? Sure. Anything can happen.

Whew!

And now, in the middle of the night, it’s not cold sweats, but excitement about what you’re doing.

It all becomes worth it, right?

Scary how that works.


If you enjoy cartooning, consider taking my free course HERE.

Follow me on Instagram HERE.

Visit my website, HERE.

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The Frustrated Cartoonist

Written by

My name is Nate Fakes. I’m a syndicated cartoonist in the L.A. area. I love what I do, but the creative life can be, well, frustrating. I write about it.

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