I’ve had a big shift in my life over the past few weeks, as you may have noticed Icon a Day has taken a break and I didn’t end up posting to the blog last week. If you follow my Twitter account you’ll probably have seen that I am starting a new job at a popular coffee chain. While my focus is still on my passion, it has became clear to me that I need something to support that passion.
I’ve been a full time freelancer for over a year at this point, but for a multitude of reasons I decided to go back to what Sean McCabe calls “The Overlap Technique”. However, I don’t see going back to overlapping my passion with a part time job as a failure, quite the contrary. Is it a setback? Yes, of course it is. But I don’t see that as a bad thing, I see it as a learning experience. I made so many mistakes, but those mistakes only reinforced
Look Before Leaping
I was presented with the what I saw as the perfect opprotunity in the summer of 2014. The company I was working for wanted to let me go and hire me back as a contractor. It would mean a bit less money, but it also would give me more time to build my business and accept new clients. It was a risk I was willing to take, but I probably should have given it way more thought.
The truth was I was over-eager. I under-estimated the difficulty of finding clients in a way that aligns with my business values. Maybe if I was more pushy in selling my services and used certain design contest sites I would be in a better place, but that sort of thing just doesn’t seem very kosher. I’m not saying it was a bad idea to take a risk, but I should have really understood what I was getting into before making the leap to full-time freelancing.
Preserve the Passion
I’m going to be very honest, I was starting to lose my passion for icon design. Being constantly worried about getting enough work to cover expenses will do that. As a result I feel like my work has stagnated even though I have continued to put in the practice. It was really starting to scare me, moreso than my financial situation. I’m very fortunate to have enough of a support network right now that I won’t become homeless if I run out of money, but if I lose this passion could it ever be rekindled?
I was also taking on work that didn’t completly align with my passion for icon design, which came with its own stressors that hindered my excitement. My former employer who I do contract work for has be building brochures, and maintaining their website. One of my biggest projects other than that was similar work for a local political campaign. I felt like I had to take whatever work came my way, and that really made me resent being a freelancer.
Working in an Unrelated Industry
I’m lucky that up until now I’ve only worked in creative jobs (my first real job was doing design work for a non-profit), and while these jobs were rewarding in their own way they drained my creative juices. I’d even count most of my freelance jobs since going independant in this category because I was taking them to support my real passion. If I were smarter, I would have started looking for something unrelated (like say, a coffee shop) when I first started my business 2 years ago.
Learn From the Mistakes of Others
All these lessons here, I had already learned them in some capacity. From Sean McCabe’s podcast, as well as rolemodels and friends in the industry. I didn’t have to go through the difficulty I did, but sometimes us humans have to learn the hard way. There is always someone out there who has more experience than you do, who made the mistakes, who fell down and had to pick themselves back up. Listen to them, listen to as many as you can.
You can avoid the mistakes of others so you’re free to make your own to teach others to avoid.