The Abundant Freelancer

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How My Biggest Struggle Became The Foundation For My Greatest Success

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Mindset is something we continue to work on our whole lives. There’s no I-did-it-once-so-I’m-good-forever aspect to maintaining a positive mindset. It takes constant attention and adjustment, as most of us were not born into families that were totally positive or mindful around certain areas of life, such as money or career. This blog post is a personal story, one of how my biggest struggle became the foundation for my greatest success.

In The Beginning

I grew up well. There wasn’t a lot of positive talk around money but I guess you could’ve called my family upper middle class in the 90s and pre-2008, though I don’t think either of my parents came from a super positive mindset about money. I did hear, “money is tight,” a lot, usually when my parents didn’t want to buy me some useless new toy that I’d be over in a week.

Whether that statement was true or just an easy way to shut me up when I was being annoying and seeking external sources of fulfillment in the form of a toy, I really can’t say. What I can say is that it gave me some really weird concepts around money until I became a conscious human and realized that I create my own reality.

College and Beyond

It wasn’t until after college that started to shed the worst of the beliefs that I integrated from these experiences, parental fights and in general, that whole shit show that was the economy after the housing market debacle in America. Eventually, I developed some pretty sabotaging beliefs around money due to that fiasco.

As for career, I definitely bought into the whole, you have to go to college, then get a good job at a corporation (for me, that meant a film studio like Sony Pictures, which was the closest studio to where I lived at the time). Career and money, for me, were tightly tied into getting a job. That’s what I was taught, anyway. That was the safe route to go.

Except it wasn’t. When I left college in 2012, there were no jobs. For anyone. I was one of the lucky few to be snatched up by my internship and given a full-time job that was remotely related to the field I was interested in. I was hired by Merle Norman Cosmetics as their Video Production and Digital Media Coordinator, a position they created for me.

I was happy for a while until I realized I was seriously underpaid for the work I was doing. I was the director of video shoots, cinematographer (lighting and camera), I recorded the audio on set, and I edited, color corrected, and created motion graphics for every video. I even implemented a new digital signage system for every Merle Norman studio, both nationally and internationally. Yet, I was getting paid about half of what my position was worth, and, living in Los Angeles, that wasn’t enough to even move out of my mom’s house. That experience had a tainting effect on my mindset as well.

I think I was a bit of a brat back then, but I knew I was being undervalued. It’s not the company’s fault, necessarily – it wasn’t a time of economic growth, and for the most part, this is the norm for people working in corporate unless they’re higher up on the company ladder. Not getting paid what you’re worth can have a damaging effect on an otherwise positive disposition. It did for me.

I Leapt into Freelancing

I left the company after a year to become a freelancer, which was totally freeing! But, I was overly optimistic. I had no savings and no plan, other than the idea that I was going to be a freelancer, using my video, photography, and graphic design skills to finally get paid my worth. I figured, I had freelanced all through college to help pay for school supplies and food, so I could totally do this.

This venture ended up being such a huge failure. Like, so bad. I couldn’t pay any of my bills and I was about to get my car repossessed, a cute little Fiat 500 that I had only bought less than a year before. After just a few months, I ended up calling my brother, crying, and asking if he would let me come back to his party company to work as a balloon artist again. He said yes, and it was one of the more humbling experiences of my life.

Over the next several years, I worked these parties on weekends and freelanced when I could, all while still living at my mom’s place. I bounced between odd jobs that never worked out because it turns out that I am sooooo not an employee, and I made okay money. Enough to pay my bills, but never enough to move out. It was a constant inner struggle for me, because I thought I ought to be able to move out and since I hadn’t, I was a failure. It didn’t matter that every college student had to move back home with their parents, you see, I thought I should’ve been better than that. These are crippling thoughts to a positive mindset.

This was such a cycle of mediocre success and self-loathing for me, but I read all the books on positivity and success in the world, and that kept me going. That and this burning desire to succeed at all, ever. But, it wasn’t until I was working this totally shit job and hating myself for being in a position I was way overqualified for that I decided enough was enough and everything needed to change, like, now. Or I’d just die or something.

Getting My Mindset Right

I knew I needed to get my mindset right. I was attracting shitty experiences because I was thinking shitty thoughts. I started applying the principles from a book called “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace Wattles. I listened to that on audiobook every day and soon combined it with the Wayne Dyer recording of the Tao Te Ching (Dow Day Jing). I was still in that bullshit job, but I was doing each task with the same care that I would take if I were freelancing full time, a dream that I still had. I just really wanted to work from home and spend time with my cat.

I also visualized myself working from home, having tons of money, and living my best life. I think it was about a month and a half before everything had completely changed. When it did, it did so rapidly and drastically. But, I was still afraid of not having consistent income, because at this time, I had moved out and was paying rent at a relative’s house to use their spare room, so I didn’t commit. Instead, I found a video job that paid a pathetic $13/hr.

Victory or Valhalla

For those of you that don’t know, $13/hr is pathetic for video editing work. I accepted it because I was desperate for anything related to my field that I didn’t stop to think of what that so-called salary meant. That was definitely far less than I had been paid at Merle Norman, three years before. Once I was doing the job and I got my first check, well – I sure realized it then.

About three days after I realized this wasn’t going to work out long term, I was laid off.

My reaction was strange. I wasn’t sad, just kind of practical about it. I called my fiancé from the parking lot to tell him I was coming home because I was fired for “not being a good fit” (no shit) and that I didn’t want to find another job, that I was just going to fully commit to freelancing. That, my friends, is where the magic started happen.

I think the act of committing to a thing signals to your subconscious mind that it’s time to get serious, and it then begins to allow you to become aware of opportunities that are in alignment with that commitment. It was kind of a “victory or Valhalla” moment for me, to use Viking terms (I love Vikings), meaning that I had to become successful or I would just die. Victory or death, as they say. I had nothing to lose at that point, so the fear was gone.

I bought Seth Godin’s “How to Become a Professional Freelancer” course on Udemy.com with my severance pay, and after that, everything changed for the better.

It was a bit of a struggle that first month, but the second month, I tripled my income. That was August of 2016. After that, I held consistent income from then on, just by freelancing. I built a successful content creation business over the course of the last two years, providing freelance video services, then graphic design and writing. I just kept expanding, because I decided that success was my only option.  

My Biggest Takeaways

I think my biggest takeaways from that whole experience was that jobs aren’t as safe as people would have you believe. Though there is often great flux in freelancing income at first, it is safer in the long run. You are immune to layoffs, because you’ll never lay yourself off. You make your own hours, get to decide who you work with and how much they pay you, and answer only to yourself. You don’t have to ask permission to go to the DMV or to take a day for yourself. I learned that freelancing income can be consistent, and that I really, really liked staying at home with my cat.

I also realized how huge a role mindset played in my success. I ditched the disempowered employee mindset and started thinking like an entrepreneur, started believing that I could be successful at freelancing simply because I wanted to be. That’s why I am, and will be, making such a big deal about mindset every week. It’s because the only limitations to your success as a freelancer or business owner are the ones you set for yourself, due to fear or ideas that others have imposed upon you.

Abundant freelancing is not only possible, it is inevitable, when you fully commit to yourself and your business. Fast forward to now, I now make more than double each month than I did when I worked in corporate, and am well on my way to tripling that number. Every month, the income grows, and so it can be for you as well!

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