Wait, step 1 was also a joke? Really?
How to Be a Professional Freelancer
While most sites will post a boring write-up on being on time, being nice and networking, I’m here to tell you the “real” nitty gritty of just what it takes to become a “real” professional freelancer. Here’s your very own copy of the Professional Freelancer’s Guide To Professional Freelancing.
But beware, ignore these steps, skip over a few, or do them out of order and you’re doomed to fail and return to that crappy cubicle making logos bigger and adding pictures of cute animals to gas station websites for the rest of your life.
So, here it is. Pay attention now!
Step 1: Dress Like a Freelancer
More important that anything in the world, wearing the correct attire makes all the difference between the “professional” freelancer and those other losers out there.
So what does a professional freelancer wear? A suit? Nope. How about casual khakis or jeans? Nope and nope. A professional freelancer sticks to a strict dress code of just a few quality items:
- Pajamas–Preferably ones that have been worn more than once.
- Sweatpants–Stained ones are the mark of the super professionals.
- Geek glasses–Even if your vision is perfect, you must wear a pair of black thick framed plastic glasses…or else.
Never brush your hair, never take showers, and never brush those teeth… hygiene is for the poor unfortunates who have to attend a regular nine to five. And exercise? Forget about it! You’ve got 36 hours of Lost reruns to watch.
Step 2: How to Handle the “Work”
They’re expecting you to do work? Preposterous! No professional freelancer ever does work–that stuff’s for the little guys.
If you do decide to bend a little to put in some hours minutes of work, there are a few basic principles you should remember to follow:
- Deadlines are like expiration dates–A best guess, but not always accurate. Sometimes you have a week more, maybe even two.
- The design the client hands you to code? Yuck! Go ahead and improve upon it throw it out the window and come up with something you know is better.
Step 3: Finding Work
The real professional freelancer should never actually care about finding work. You’re too cool for that. You know that as soon as your site goes live, the worldwide web will stop immediately and flood to your super awesome portfolio. All you need to do is sit back and wait for all the clients who’ll beg for you to work with them. (Although it’s not likely you will actually agree to work for them. You’re too cool for that.)
Step 4: Setting Your Work Hours
The Professional Freelancer’s Guide To Professional Freelancing is very clear on this one. You should never be expected to awake before noon and don’t forget to remind your family that you’re too busy to spend time with them because you’re working until 4 a.m. Who cares if it’s Christmas? You’ve got sites to design!
Step 5: Your Equipment
The newest and coolest Mac is required for every “real” professional. You get bonus points if it’s got all of the upgrades and you persuaded your grandma to buy it for you. A smartphone, iPad and $20 Moleskin notebooks are required as well. Don’t waste money on a desk or proper lighting though, just work on the floor, or your mom’s dining room table.
Step 6: The Client
The most unfortunate part of being a professional freelancer is that you have to deal with clients. I guess nothing is perfect, right?
Well, just because we have to deal with these blockheads, doesn’t mean we have to be nice about it. It’s time to show you’re large and in charge.
Make sure you never answer the phone, their IMs or their emails…unless you want to and until you feel like it. Don’t ever greet them, that’s the sign of someone who doesn’t know how to run their business. Instead, put on your most haughty tone and let them know where they stand–which is right underneath you. Treat them properly and they’ll go away.
Step 7: Downtime
Never waste your downtime on work or clients. Never use it to learn new things or read books. Instead, fill all of your downtime surfing Facebook, playing WoW, and fighting with 14-year-old kids over Xbox Live.
You’ve worked hard the whole week so it’s time you paid attention to #1–Yep that’s you, buddy!
The Bottom Line
As you’ve probably figured out by now, this post was written in fun.
What’s the real secret to being a professional freelancer? Doing the opposite of every thing described above! ;)
What “real professional freelancer” habits do you plan to break? :)
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August 2nd, 2011 at 9:24 am
CristianAugust 2nd, 2011 at 9:33 am
“Deadlines are like expiration dates–A best guess, but not always accurate. ”
BruceAugust 2nd, 2011 at 9:35 am
Needs editing, e.g., ‘principles’, not “principals”.
August 2nd, 2011 at 9:52 am
Very amusing! I think if you turn all those right around you’d have a good set of rules!
(I went out and bought a set of casual, comfy, but new and flattering, working at home clothes when I first went freelance!)
August 2nd, 2011 at 10:27 am
Brilliant, just brilliant :)) really enjoyed it! :D
August 2nd, 2011 at 10:35 am
I am gonna have to disagree!!!
I don’t wear sweatpants! I wear my boxers!!! :)
August 2nd, 2011 at 11:01 am
I’m agree with Aaron, boxers are more comfortable…
August 2nd, 2011 at 1:17 pm
I would love to follow these rather than the opposite ones… lol.. :D
August 2nd, 2011 at 1:19 pm
Sweatpants? I haven’t figured out how to go to the toilet without getting then all wet? They are for girls. Pants with a fly, that is for me.
August 2nd, 2011 at 1:56 pm
well i don’t think there is any set of rules for a freelancer…just be honest with what you do and you can follow any rules or bend any rules
August 2nd, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Funny and sad article Amber.
Perhaps a reflection of our times. Attitude and desire are still the backbone of success.
My freelance ” hay days” were back in the old manual “cut and paste” assembly changing over to computer assembly on Mac’s.
My studio Pinpoint Design in Toronto was a “transitional” design studio back in 1991.
Very interesting and hard times.
I am now a noted freelance Canadian Landscape Fine Artist (my true lifelong passion)
RobAugust 2nd, 2011 at 2:35 pm
I actually prefer waking up around 11 and when the workflow exists will work until 4-5am. If it can be avoided, wearing nothing more than sweats a t-shirt and socks is optimal, though Iced Coffee is a requirement.
I’ve limited my overhead by not owning a Mac though.
August 2nd, 2011 at 3:26 pm
are you sure this was a joke? cause my career was accurately described. lol
August 2nd, 2011 at 4:03 pm
Nice Amber. I need humor to get me through some long days…LOL. Thanks!
August 2nd, 2011 at 6:29 pm
Haha! Absolutely hilarious stuff you got here Amber.
I actually follow Step 1 from time to time, wearing a comfy sleeveless shirt, a pair of comfy shorts, unkempt hair, and wobbly glasses that I have yet to get fixed.
August 2nd, 2011 at 6:33 pm
Love it! Thanks for making me laugh….. I needed that. :)
August 2nd, 2011 at 7:15 pm
“And exercise? Forget about it! You’ve got 36 hours of Lost reruns to watch.”
Made me stop and look around to see if you’ve got my house bugged!! Yikes, I’m a cliche! Must take walk ;)
August 2nd, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Very funny post. Still smiling. Now I am going to spend some time looking around your site. I want some more good stuff.
August 2nd, 2011 at 9:07 pm
I think this is pretty hilarious. The clothing one seems like a friendly jab, because surely freelancers do work in their pajamas sometimes! lol
August 3rd, 2011 at 12:07 am
Really? No working in my jammies? You’re no fun. Oh, well. At least I can say I bought my iMac myself and my laptop with a grant. Does that count?
August 3rd, 2011 at 1:32 am
Popping back in to say I can’t be a proper freelancer because the only time I see 4 or 5 am is from the other side: I’m a morning person and am quite happy to wake up super-early to get on with my projects or other tasks, but I usually stop at 9 pm as I start to flag then (even if I haven’t been up since 5). We’re all different (but we all do seem to work in our pajamas … )
August 3rd, 2011 at 10:01 am
Hahah, hilarious. I’m reading this on office and i’m still smiling : )
August 3rd, 2011 at 10:24 am
I like this post.. Its very funny, I don’t want to use geek glasses. heheh
August 3rd, 2011 at 1:14 pm
Haha quality :) Completely inaccurate depiction of freelances of course… ;)
August 3rd, 2011 at 2:42 pm
Disagree on your first point…I never ever wear a shirt/t-shirt while i m working.
August 4th, 2011 at 2:11 am
Wonderful humour and such a hit! Brilliantly done. I can relate to everything you say; especially about the dress code and not brushing those teeth LOL!
August 4th, 2011 at 11:56 am
Very funny, love some freelance humor!!!
Thanks a lot for making us laugh
August 5th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
This is one of the well curated articles that I have come across this week. Kudos!!!
August 5th, 2011 at 11:17 pm
This is really funny yet sooo true! Especially Step# 1, that’s how I look every morning. Then I’ll transform myself like magic when going outdoors. Wearing contact lens is my special trick in hiding my geeky self :)
August 8th, 2011 at 1:48 pm
I have some problems with freelancing to.
No teeth brush, and my hair is 1cm now and all messy on my desk
I sleep at 4:00 AM and wake at 2 PM. Only junk food and no sport…
I respect my deadlines and I have a desk with a powerfull PC.
I think the only way to get out of this bad habits is to get a full time job witch I never had since I stared web development life (I had a full time job as electrician (: )
August 11th, 2011 at 8:45 am
Nice post… but why is everybody just caring about the “look”. Get your numbers done…and than take your time to care about yourself.
August 14th, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Very entertaining post. Thanks for the good laugh
August 18th, 2011 at 11:27 pm
Very funny. Thanks for the laughs. I dont shave enough.
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