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The Art of Working Freelance Without Burning Out

(Originally published on 11/27/2013)

There is this podcast thing available “The Art Of Freelancing” from Noah Bradley, which I found interesting when it came out and recently I finally decided to get a copy and took a listen – and here´s my conclusion:
For anyone starting out cluelessly into the business, this is a definite recommendation – as it really is covering all the topics that are genuinely skipped in art school.
However, I also wish I had found out about that 10 years ago because now, working successfully a freelancer myself, there´s nothing really new to me and nothing I would not have found on the net by doing my own research.

So my only advice is that this seminar is really only for someone who just graduated from college, starts out doing the freelance thing and want all the information in a nutshell. For those, the price is justified and you have tons of information=worth it!
Then there is a huge topic he only does address in 5 minutes, which is; how to avoid burnout doing all this? Vacation and putting the fun back into work is really all you get as an advice, a pity.
This is where I found something to address my blog and eventually a similar podcast-seminar towards, in the future.

Why I´m in a position to talk about how to prevent burnout through freelancing

When I was 25, I was diagnosed with hypertension and got ridiculous amounts of Beta-blockers plus some other medication – at a resting heart rate of 100+ this was necessary – no question. However, at that time, I had a contracting temporary work and was doing the art stuff and study besides. Diagnosing “negative stress” as a reason for this doesn´t satisfy any doctor, but in reality it was just that. When I took the plunge into freelance some 5 years ago (at the age of 30), I was in the midst of abandoning the meds because I don´t want to suffer from diabetes which is the straightforward sideffect of taking lifelong hypertension drugs.
with 31 I finally abandoned the medication while knee-deep in freelance work (positive stress) and till the date my blood pressure is perfect, my resting heart rates are at 65-70 and I firmly believe that being chronically unemployed accompanied by positive stress has helped me to overcome this disease and to get rid of the poor medication.

Today I´m calmer than ever, even when I have no commissioned project on my plate, I use the time to work on my own projects. No I don´t try to get buddy-buddy with art directors to get jobs, they get to me when the time is right.

Also until today I never ever had a client not pay my bill, never. Noah also states the same, but the obvious difference is that I know the reason and I can explain it – it´s not just luck, it takes a bit more than that – a good marketing approach using authentic marketing is just one of the key factors of getting the right clients.

Another point he misses in the “Art of Freelancing” seminar is the power of licensing images, contracting and working on commissions is perfectly covered, but what about the work you do for yourself? Licensing is a viable option and I´m stunned it is not covered.

It doesn´t take a special person, but a special environment

At first I thought it takes a special person to be able to deal with all that freelancing stuff, that I´m possibly one of the few that have these abilities built-in, but that´s not true. What is true is, that some of us are simply in the wrong working positions at a specific time of their life, which is what makes us ill, working in a factory and doing temporary work on a regular income was specifically what made me ill.
But exactly like a Penguin, which might look pity for other birds with its poor wings and no feathers at all, sseeinga penguin swim makes you aware that it IS the environment that has to be right in order for us to succeed and appreciate what we are and what we can do!
If you live your life long against your inner desire, you´ll for sure burn out regardless of what you do, I know of some people diagnosed with burnout from a 9-to-5 job, and I see this more and more. If you are able to point out, what you want and what not, you are one step closer.
It is true that it takes a toll, you´ll need to be able to work all day alone in solitude, find ways to stay selfmotivated and inspired 24/7. But it is manageable and I´m proof that it is possible to have a lot of fun doing that.

Get your question answered
I thank about doing a course on that specific topics that starts exactly where “The Art of Freelancing” stops. The course would be aimed towards those in the business who are established but want to stay in it and sane by doing so. You could benefit from my own distilled experience of dealing with this. It´d be interesting to see some comments about it from you.
Please, let me know your questions about that topic, questions that would you want to have covered in such a course. This is your chance to get a mandatory instruction and your question answered as well.

About the Author Oliver Wetter

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