Notes from over 20 years of freelancing, remote working and generally doing my own thing.
One of the biggest and most costly mistakes I made as a remote freelancer was to not focus on what I actually liked working on.
In the early days I didn’t know precisely what I wanted to do, so maybe it was right to try my hand at everything that came my way, picking up skills and knowledge along the way.
But even when I had found things that I really liked working on, I still didn’t focus.
I would pretty much just do what ever came up next when I finished the last thing. Just bouncing from one task to the next, from one project to the next without sparing much thought for anything that wasn’t right in front of me.
It sounds quite nice, just drifting along just doing whatever you felt like, but the results are horrible.
You either end up in completely the wrong place spending all the time you have doing work you don’t like, or worse, not getting anywhere at all.
Fear has a lot to do with it. Like most of those who work for themselves, I had a deep sense of dread that each project might be my last, so I was very reluctant to turn down anything that came my way. I would take a job just because it was there and I could do it - not because I actually wanted it
But when you do get over the fear and start to focus, things really start to motor.
The work that you’re doing gets better and better. It actually generates energy and enthusiasm rather than just using it up. It doesn’t feel forced or stressful. In fact it doesn’t really feel like work at all.
Your enthusiasm is contagious. The people you are working with/for start to notice and want to work with you more. They even tell others about you and more opportunity comes your way.
Turning down work that you don’t like doing is wonderful too. Each time someone asks, you start to recall how much you loathed doing that sort of work - and then get a boost of happy just because you don’t have to do it. Sweet!
So going out on a limb and specialising is scary but the results are well worth it.
I only wish i’d realised 15 years ago.