Since starting my own business in October 2012, I’ve had one heck of a ride. It’s been a year of hard work, late nights, new accomplishments, amazing opportunities, and the discovery that going freelance was the best decision I could have made at this point in my career.
At once rewarding and invigorating, “going it alone” can also be completely terrifying. I’ve been very lucky that the decision to leave my full time job at National Geographic didn’t mean I’d have to cut ties with my former colleagues. As I see it, I now have the best of both worlds. I continue to freelance with folks at NGM whom I admire and respect, but also have the ability to take on new and different work for other clients as well – The New York Times Idea Lab and Scientific American, to name a few. Doing so has given me a broader sense of how my skills and abilities can be applied to a variety of editorial and project management roles. If I was used to thinking of myself as a jack-of-all-trades, now I know I am.
You see, when you work for yourself, you have to be your biggest fan, your worst nightmare, and everything in-between. Sometimes you have to push yourself to meet a deadline, and others convince yourself it’s time to take some R&R. You have to be creative but pragmatic, resourceful yet realistic. And of course, you have to be willing to take risks. Sometimes these will pay off (literally), and sometimes they won’t. But if you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, then no matter the result, you still come out ahead.
Indeed, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but taking a wrong turn here and there is a matter of course for freelancers – not something to avoid, but something to be embraced and learned from. After a year of full-time freelancing, I have learned more about myself, my craft, and my potential than ever before. But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is this: you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will either.
Now that 2013 is drawing to a close, I'd like to say thank you to everyone I’ve worked with, and learned from, over the past twelve months. My freelance journey is just beginning, and I’m grateful for every step along the way . . .