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Talent Isn't Everything: 5 Secrets to Freelance Success

# 4 - The one thing no one else will tell you

Now I'm about to tell you something that you won't read in any other "how to be a freelancer" article, ever.

It's mean and nasty -- and it's true. It may be the best piece of all-around work-related advice you'll ever get:

Don't be "the one with all the problems."

Clients will pretend to be understanding when your grandmother is dying or your kids are sick and/or running around screaming in the background or the power went out across your city for 12 hours.

But they really don't care.

They have deadlines and budgets and bosses and customers and clients (and problems) of their own.

When my father died, my old boss in book publishing asked me sheepishly, mid-hug, how long I'd be out of town for the funeral. After all, we did have a sixty page Christmas catalog to get out....

When my mother died, I went back to her apartment after making the funeral arrangements, got out my notes, dialed the phone, and interviewed a big-time author for a major daily paper, as I'd been assigned to do the week before.

Never miss a deadline. I know I have once or twice but I must've repressed the memory.

Your "brilliant" article or web copy or brochure text is completely and utterly useless until it arrives in your editor's or designer's or client's inbox.

Until then, it may as well not exist. Freelancing is binary: all or nothing.

Even on his deathbed, Christopher Hitchens met deadlines.

Yes, he probably had an assistant (or two), not to mention a wife and a coterie of understanding friends and editors.

He also had cancer.

So you'll need a better excuse than that.

(P.S.: Own two newish computers that worked fine the last time you used them.

(I don't mean "have access to one at your mom's house or at the library," either. Your mom's house and/or the library could burn down tomorrow or be inaccessible by road during a blizzard.

("My computer just crashed" is also not your client's fault, and you will be seen as -- say it with me now -- "the one with all the problems.")