“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Imagine telling your landlord rent will only be paid for the time you are physically in the apartment. They are responsible for logging the time you “live” there, and will receive payment for that time 30-90 days after an invoiced is received.
Nope…I don’t think my landlord would go for that plan.
And yet, as freelancers, it’s the life we’ve chosen.
Last night, I spent 10 hours straight working.
I sat down to work at 3pm, forced myself to eat dinner at 8:30 and finally collapsed into bed at 1am.
I will be paid for 3 of those 10 hours.
The 7 I won’t receive payment for were put into my portfolio, my blog, and social media.
This is the life of a freelancer.
We average 10-hour days, 7 days a week, but are typically paid for less than a third of that time.
Yes, your portfolio and blog will bring money in later on.
But a return on that investment typically won’t be seen for months or (more realistically) years.
And rent is due this month. There are bills to pay this year.
No other job requires such an inconsistent payment schedule.
So…why do we do it?
Why do we put up with the grueling hours, the inconsistent pay and the looming fear that our client pool will one day dry up?
The answer is simple: for the love of the craft.
We gladly give up food, sleep and free time for the sake of our passion.
If it weren’t for the two days a week I get to spend with my boyfriend, I would never cook, watch tv or go to sleep at a reasonable hour.
But I don’t think I’d mind that, either.
Freelancers work for a purpose.
We are a business in ourselves. We don’t answer to a boss who answers to another boss who answers to a National CEO who answers to an International CEO.
We work the hours when we’re most productive – not when a company says, “sit at at your desk and producing something.”
And yes, there is the added bonus of waking up when we want and working in our pajamas.
But it’s more than that.
It’s knowing you have the guts to work for love rather than money.
It’s the excitement of new projects in unrelated industries.
It’s the victory in living for your passion and creating truly great work.
In the headline, I promised a way to love working for free.
Unfortunately, I can’t provide any magic words or mystical formulas.
Because, in case you haven’t figured it out, your high school guidance counselor was right.
The best way to find your passion – what you should be doing for the rest of your life – is to figure out what you would still be doing if you wouldn’t be paid.
Here in the real world, it’s called “freelance.”
Photo Credit: Karl Baron (Click picture to see original)
Leave a comment letting me know your answer to this question! Have you ever worked freelance? Would you give up money for love of the craft? What motivates your work?
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