I’ve been a freelancer for the last ten years. Freelancing, as those who do it know, is not always the most enjoyable of professions. Outsiders see things like a flexible schedule, the ability to travel, the ability to decide how much work you do and when, and assume it’s an easy, fun way to make a living. Insiders know that freelancing is a continuous hustle, a struggle to make yourself known, to land commissions, to find work that will lead to more work. Especially in my particular corner of social media, where brand presence and ethical behavior are part of my work, freelancing is even more loaded as I turn down jobs in the interest of promoting other voices or shrink from the limelight because I don’t want to take up space.
Social Media Marketers have been freelancing for a very long time and discussing the impact and influence of social media for just as long. Thanks to the economic collapse, more and more people are turning to freelancing as a way of life, and what they’re discovering is shocking and disturbing for them. Even as those in power are pitching freelancing and the so-called ‘sharing economy’ as the new economic order and a symbol of freedom, flexibility, creativity, and resourcefulness, what it looks like from the ground is a constant hustle and a struggle to stay alive.
What I have learned in my career is that when some people get it right, it's best to allow their formula, vision or process to play itself out. I have also learned that there are those in business who will do anything to hold on to past glory, past fame or accolades just because they don't know how to move forward.
In reviewing the thousands of articles as I do daily, I came across one that I thought really spoke to me and those out there like me who are simply trying to do their thing. None of them said hustling would be easy but does it have to be this hard?
Because you are a hustler, a lot of people are going to come to you for help with their projects. They will offer you all sorts of compensation for your involvement, from paying you directly to giving you an ownership stake in their project.
You will be flattered by these offers. You will be excited by some of them too. Your excitement over these offers stems from the fact that you know how to help these people with their projects, and because you know that you have the ability to create value. In many cases, you will know exactly how to help the person asking you succeed in their venture.
But in something very close to 100% of the cases, you shouldn’t get involved in other people’s projects.
Here is what you need to know:
Anything that isn’t part of your mission is a distraction. You aren’t going to have enough time to do all the things that you want to do when it comes to your own projects. Helping other people with their projects will distract you from your own projects, and it will push the results you need further into the future—or kill them outright. Avoid distractions by learning to say no.
The time you spend helping other people with their thing is the time you are taking away from your thing. You are supposed to be doing your own meaningful work. That takes a massive investment of time and energy. By saying “yes” to other people’s projects, you are stealing time from your highest priority. Invest your time in your hustle.
3. There will always be more offers and more projects available to you than you have bandwidth. The more successful you are, the more people will ask for your help. The number of people who need your help with interesting projects will always exceed the time you have available. You are not missing out when you turn down the opportunity to help with their project; you are missing out on your project’s success.
4. Your laser focus on the meaningful work you are here to do should dominate your time, your energy, and your investments.Nothing should take precedence over your mission. Anything that takes your focus from that work—and your projects—is a distraction. Hustle requires focus.
Stay focused on your hustle.
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