At some point, as a 60+ creative freelancer, I figured that finding work just had to get easier.
But it hasn’t.
‘Finding work’ is a sloppy euphemism for sales. I think sales is hard work and requires a lot of attention. I admire professional sales people. How I sell would make a professional salesperson cringe.
Sometimes I get lucky in my social circles [the old fashioned kind] and will meet a prospective client. Maybe I’m referred. Maybe I get a call out of the blue. For many years I would get the occasional call over the helm that would lead to a proposal which would lead to a project which would lead to something interesting. And, for larger clients, I’m not opposed to using friends for referrals.
Today, I’ve trimmed back the type of work that I offer to a bare minimum, seeking to make explaining myself less annoying and confusing. This is a fairly recent innovation. I’ve 86'd the powerpoint presentation and accompanying wire bound color copy booklet. I also explain what I do as it might benefit the prospect, not a list of inflated mind numbing services. It makes what I do about the prospect and not about me.
One of the advantages of being 60+ with gray hair and a grumpy look is that if you tell someone you are a graphic designer or a writer or an artist they generally figure you have some valuable experience. The problem, of course, is that they aren’t clear about what era or century this valuable experience occurred in and if you really have current experience.
For this reason I avoid big words that we use to make ourselves sound impressive and skills that are obviously very modern and doable by a 25 year old nephew or niece (bless their hearts).
For example, when I am asked if I ‘do websites’ I reply, “No, a college educated 25 year old nephew or niece can hopefully and competently do the technical part. I handle the brand development, visuals and writing needed to make the site successful.” This all sounds very expensive, implying that the 25 year old nephew or niece may not have the mature skills to handle content development (or the technical part).
And, one big advantage that the 60+ freelancer has is that we should know from experience just how much time things take to do, which makes proposals and estimates easier and less painful. At one time years ago I did sweeping, grand proposals. Now I do narrowly defined estimates. It’s easier and I’m less inclined to forget things that I promised I’d do six months before. Sales may be more bite sized, but they are more manageable.
All these things I do today because I am tired of sales bullshit. I love selling things, yet I’ve come to discover later in life that a simple description of what I do, as well as a simple, easy to understand estimate takes me less time.
What are you doing today that is different than a few years ago?