💯💯💯 "If you can identify your client's needs and come up with ideas before they've even had the chance to put them up on their own drawing board. You've transformed your own brand in their eyes, instead of seeing you as a photographer, and just that. Maybe now they see you as a brand strategist. Instead of viewing you as a contractor, maybe they see you as part of the team."
Losing one's job is never easy. It takes a tremendous toll both financially and emotionally. But what rarely gets talked about is simply dealing with the anxiety of job loss. How do we handle the fear of losing that gig, that contract, that client? With more and more freelancing coming into play each year, more and more people have to deal with this anxiety, with few people willing to talk about it. In this episode, I'm going to discuss 5 practices that have helped my anxiety as a full-time creative.
losing your job can be a crippling event, not only financially but also emotionally. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, the longer one experiences unemployment in the United States, the more likely they are to report symptoms of psychological unease. Now, I'm not telling you something you don't already know, losing your job or your business is a tough beat. But something that doesn't get talked about much is the fear of losing your job or your business. How much stress does that cause? How many sleepless nights are there for families relying on freelance income, and that one check to come in? simply being in a perpetual state of fear and job loss has been equally as stressful to me that actually losing my job. And I've dealt with both circumstances, choosing a freelance lifestyle doesn't come with just the perks, self employment requires a modicum of fortitude, I would describe it best as a practiced anxiety for consistent job loss, undercutting, and complete market contraction. This current error, in my opinion, will experience this anxiety more than any other error since the Great Depression. And there are a number of causes for the spike. And as fascinating as that rabbit hole would be to go down. It's not the crux of this episode. The question we all face is, how do we handle anxiety so that we don't lose our mind? Is there anything I can do to chip away at it and feel more competent to go forward? If I'm here to tell you that job security is going to maintain inconsistent, and the rise of the gig economy is here to stay, then, shouldn't we all have some compass to help us navigate through stress and
anxiety? Well, today, I'm going to go over five small things that have really helped me with my self-employment career. And I'm hoping it's going to help you too. Tip number one, build your emergency fund. Building an emergency fund has arguably been my most effective tool for anxiety relief as a freelancer, financial tools always create emotional tools. One of the big reasons why losing a job or having a gig canceled is so stressful, is because you were relying on that income for your upcoming expenses. And when you lose that job, or that assignment, or that contract, you have to scramble and figure out your next move in a hurry. I'm a big believer that desperation and haste can often lead to counterproductive decisions when it comes to your career. And emergency fund buys you time, it extends your window so that you don't have to hit the panic button and make moves that aren't aligned with your intended direction. Many people don't have an emergency fund at all. And while I'm not suggesting that your business is doomed to fail, without one, I can attest that it has improved not only my financial standing but also my mental health as a freelancer. So I asked you, what percentage of your income can you live without? What would you not miss? Maybe it's 5%, maybe it's 10%, maybe it's 15. Whatever your number is, take that percentage and transfer it into a separate account and label it your emergency fund. the more money you make, the more generous you can be. The lower your income is, the less you'll contribute. Let's say you choose 10%. Just to make the math easy, that means you're going to live off 90% of your check, and you don't touch the other 10%. So if you receive a $500 paycheck for a job, that means you take $50 and put it into your emergency fund and you don't touch it. If you get into the habit of doing this every time you make money, you will automatically build the habit of living off of less something that I find is easy in theory, but really hard in practice. And after a while you're gonna look up and you realize you have a few month's worth of expenses already in your emergency fund. This system has worked wonders for me in my mindset. When I started noticing that my typical year peaked in certain months and dropped and others, I was able to plan my financial strategy accordingly. If I made $9,000 in one heavy month, I aggressively saved a larger percentage of that income, maybe 30 or 40%. to balance those dry months where I might make $500. The result was that panic and fear dropped exponentially. I was able to use that downtime proactively by working on all the things I couldn't do during the busy months. If you could actively contribute to your emergency fund, you will finance yourself through dry spells, prevent overspending, and train a great business habit for life. Number two, reach out to current and prospective clients. If you're a person that worries about coming on too strong to prospective clients, I would really advise throwing that out the window getting over it. clients understand more than ever, that the level of urgency freelancers and small business owners are facing is that an all-time high, assume they're expecting your call and that maybe they'll be upset if you don't reach out to them take that approach. Just by making the effort to contact people will help mitigate the feeling of worthlessness and can go a long way in mentally rebounding As you touch base with your clients, offer them to lock in your future contracts or ask them to write you a letter of recommendation on LinkedIn. So far I've done both successfully. The contracts last in 2020 have now been solidified for 2021. And every single client I've reached out to has been happy to write me a letter of recommendation or is at least currently working on it. Here's a sample email that I sent to a recent client as an example of my approach, high client
hope all as well, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy, safe, and not hit too hard by the shutdowns we've experienced this year. I'm reaching out to my clients right now, because I'm looking to prepare as best as I can for more potential uncertainty. As a self-employed creative. It's important to me that I proactively seek out referrals with my clients and collaborators. And this is about as good a time as any, I value your opinion, and would love to ask if you'd be willing to write me a letter of recommendation on my LinkedIn page. If I'm overstepping too much, I certainly won't take it personally if the answer is no, and no explanation would be needed. If that's the case, I appreciate any consideration you may give this, and I thank you for your time. This is an example of how you can improve your anxiety by simply being proactive and reaching out to people who are actually looking to help you out. Tip number three, work on some personal projects. As someone who has manufactured plenty of free time over the last couple of years, I know the struggle of sometimes feeling worthless when there's no work. Nothing combats that better than a project that gets your juices going. It can be a small daily project, or major one that you're going to need three months to craft but start producing something whether it's valuable or not. Just knowing that you're living up to the label of a creative can catapult you back into the swing of feeling better. After talking with so many creatives about how they built their portfolio, I realized that the majority of their best work comes from personal projects. If you want to get hired to do the shoots you want to do, start showing people what inspires you and that brand identity will emerge. Additionally, consider approaching your personal projects with current clients in mind. Think about the types of content that they might need during this time. Don't wait for them to approach you. You're the creative too, you can come up with ideas. If you can identify your client's needs and come up with ideas before they've even had the chance to put them up on their own drawing board. You've transformed your own brand in their eyes, instead of seeing you as a photographer, and just that. Maybe now they see you as a brand strategist. Instead of viewing you as a contractor, maybe they see you as part of the team. Now admittedly, I'm guilty of focusing a lot of my energy on financial decisions on taking the jobs that make the most sense, but spending the money when it makes the most sense and not when it satiate a craving. But I have to remind myself to that part of being a creative business is the creative aspect. You know, what kills creativity, stressing about money all the time, there needs to be some time for play. Keep working on your own personal projects to lift your spirits and reduce your feeling of self-pity. Number four, talk to somebody outside your family about your anxiety. Now, this seems like common sense, but sometimes common sense isn't common practice. And if you have too much pride to reach out to someone outside your home about this, well get over yourself. Don't compromise your health because you think others will see it as weakness. First of all, that's not true. And secondly, is that really your problem if they do? This act of reaching out is particularly difficult for people who have a blue-collar work ethic, you know that grab their lunch pail and go to work with no excuses. And if you have this trait, chances are you're too proud to talk about any struggles you're facing. I'm going to tell you something you already know. shutting up and dealing with it is not a remedy for a healthy mindset. According to research reported in the Journal of vocational behavior, unemployed people are twice as likely as employed people to suffer from psychological problems 34% to 16%, blue-collar workers are more distressed by unemployment than those who've lost a white-collar job. So I recommend reaching out to a colleague, a friend, someone who is not reliant on your income, they won't receive your news with self-preservation concern, and therefore should not increase your level of anxiety or shame. This act is particularly important if your dependents are overwhelming you with the pressure to fix the situation. I mean, if it only were that easy, right? Hopefully your life partner and or your children are supportive and helpful and not increasing your anxiety. But oftentimes this happens regardless. Who doesn't want to eliminate stress and turmoil for their family? The point is talking to someone outside your family can calm your nerves give you a clearer, more objective sense of action, you may not receive the answers. Maybe you don't want any. Maybe you just need to hear from somebody that won't make you feel worse about it than you already do. So surround yourself with as many positive influences as you can and limit your interactions with the negative ones. Tip number five, be kind to yourself. If your friend or colleague lost their job, what would you tell them? Would you say to them, you should have been better prepared or you're not good enough, or the market is too competitive for you. These are rhetorical questions, of course, I'm hoping you wouldn't outwardly shame someone for losing their job. These answers aren't productive, and I think you know that. And yet Have you ever told yourself these same narratives If you're a normal human being the interest, probably yes. You know, a few years back, I lost all my clients in the span of just a few months. And then on top of that my camera was stolen, it reminded me that things can always get a little bit worse. And for days, I constantly told myself, it was a sign to quit photography, you don't lose four major clients in the same month, completely unrelated, and then have your workhorse camera stolen, for to just be chalked up to coincidence.
And then I realized that if someone else told me those same words, Hey, man, sounds like you shouldn't be doing photography anymore. I'd want to punch that person square in the face. Your words hold more weight than you think. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received is, don't be mean to yourself. Be kind to yourself, even if you haven't lost your job, but are fearful of losing your job in this economy. Or you're going through the natural anxiety of relying on freelance income. Don't be a jerk to yourself. You are an important figure in this fight. You need your mindset, confidence and positive. Now I need to clarify that I don't want your mindset to be delusional or passive or lazy. I don't mean telling yourself everything is going to be fun, and you just sit there waiting for good things to happen to you. But you don't tell your quarterback how much better the other team is before you take the field. You tell him, you know the place you've studied, you've practiced you prepared for this. This is what you do, do your job. We've got your back, I want you to tell yourself the same thing. Because here's the reality. Nobody else is going to call you up and give you this pep talk. I wish my parents and my mentors and my colleagues would call me and tell me, Mike, you got this I believe in you. It doesn't happen. If you really want words of encouragement and reinforcement. The best person to deliver those messages to you is you. So as a recap, build your emergency fund to reduce your income anxiety. Reach out to clients to reinforce your work identity. Create your personal project to inspire your artistic momentum. Talk to someone outside your family to reduce your sense of shame. And always, always be kind to yourself so that you can be positive and focused in your journey. That's going to wrap it up for this episode. Thank you to all you entrepreneurs out there for tuning into the show. If you enjoy the content, please subscribe on your favorite podcasting service and share this episode with other creatives just like you. Have a great day folks and keep on creating