Y’know that saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it?” Boy oh boy, did I get it. In this case, I’m talking about some work-related successes that came to pass last week.
I set a goal at the beginning of the year (barely three months ago, for anyone who doesn’t want to do the math) of scoring some recurring retainer business rather than continuing to operate on a project-to-project basis like I’ve been doing since I started this freelance gig in September 2012.
“Retainer” means that I have clients on contract who pay me a set amount per month to do everything from event management to PR/marketing and social media. In a perfect world, these contracts are for a term of no less than six months.
Up to now, I have been fortunate to garner plenty of work each month, I just never knew what it would be or where it would come from. It’s a precarious way to do business, but I had mentally prepared myself for the ebbs and flows of an unpredictable workload before I set out on my own.
I’ve done a damn good job of managing the chaos so far — both in my crazy brain and in practice — and I am SUPER lucky to have a stable of loyal clients and subsequent repeat business. I have known all along, though, that I could not sustain a long freelance career on one-and-done projects. Without losing what’s left of my mind, anyway.
Fast-forward to last week. I wrote in February about stressing out over an RFP. I found out on Thursday that my proposal was accepted, and today we are in the process of nailing down the contract terms. I will share the details in an upcoming post, but for now let me just say this job is an ideal fit for me.
Great organization and mission. Great people. Exciting and important work that could very likely expose me to even more awesome business opportunities. The position itself will showcase all the strengths I have cultivated over a 16-year career. Boom!
Next, I landed a social media management contract with a fantastic nonprofit for the next few months, with responsibility (and pay) likely to grow into a full-fledged PR consulting role for the rest of the year. I fell into this job thanks to the referral of good friend and mentor I highly respect. I’m not even sure why he likes me so much, but I am damn thankful that he does. Pow!
And finally, my former editor at Business First asked me to coordinate and manage a project for a new monthly feature in the paper. It is almost identical to a project I led when I worked there (one I loved and was really, really good at), so I should be a rock star at it. Shazam!
Combined, all of these new contracts will more than pay my bills. I am confident that I’ll enjoy the hell out of them. Plus, I’ll still have the capacity to take on additional clients, as well as random, one-and-done work, too.
Mission accomplished, right? Sitting pretty. High on the hog. And way ahead of schedule.
Yet, my first thought on Friday was: “Jesus God almighty, please DO NOT LET ME EFF THIS UP."
OK, I know on an intellectual level that I won’t go out onto any of these stages and bomb. I’m sure there will be a learning curve and missteps along the way as I get into my groove on each one, but I am too smart, too organized, too dedicated and too much of a professional to totally blow it.
I also know that I am only freaking out because these are long-term gigs. I don’t flip my shit when I procure an isolated project because I know that all I can do is my best, and the client will either like it or she won’t. Either way, I am off the hook. The client can decide to not give me future work if she wasn’t happy, and I can turn down a second job from her if I decide the work sucked or she was a pain in my keister. No skin off anybody’s nose.
From an income and stability standpoint, I want recurring work I can count on. I do. But from an emotional perspective, I can’t help but think that my master plan has inadvertently landed me three new bosses. Hello? I left the corporate world because I wanted to be my OWN boss, and now I have three?! That’s an exaggeration, I admit, because at any time, my clients or I can sever our relationships. There’s an out-clause in each agreement. Hell, that’s even true with a permanent employer.
One thing all three of these new contracts have in common is that they are different than anything I currently am doing. My skill set and experience are a perfect match for each one, but the fact of the matter is I have not done these specific jobs, in these specific contexts, ever before. They are unknown, and that’s a place that will always be a little uncomfortable for me.
Despite all of these logical deductions, my gut-level, irrational dread about screwing the pooch is there anyway.
So what’s a girl to do? Well hell, the only thing she can do, which is to push through the fear. I am certainly no stranger to THAT concept.
Here’s what I know about myself: I freak out initially about any change or challenge, but once I make a plan and dive in, it takes me no time to get acclimated and kick ass.
So I got what I wanted. Yep, sure did. I'm hoping that once I get over the initial shock of the cold water, I’ll be fine.
Here I go, off to make a splash… CANNONBALL!!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.