Breakthrough Moment: I'm an Expert

My old story: I’m almost 40, and haven’t had a full-time job in years. I’m just a freelancer. I pick up work here and there. A lot of referrals. I can do a little bit of everything. It’s pretty affordable.

OMG. When I type that out now, my old story from less than a year ago, it makes me want to punch myself.

My new story: I am a strategic marketing consultant who specializes in building processes to support progress, and implementing and testing those processes so your organization can realize its vision. We dig deep into your vision and values, and use communications strategies and tactics to build brand value. Yes, I’m hands-on and want to demonstrate instead of dictate. I have a talented team of specialists ready to deploy to take on your toughest challenges. Let’s get started with your marketing audit today.

Change 1: From freelancer to consultant. I am an independent, self-employed worker, that is true. But I was hiding behind the word “just,” - just a freelancer - not giving the courage and hard work and self-doubt that it takes to work independently its due. And I’m sorry to all of the freelancers out there that deserve much better from your peers. It won’t happen again.

Change 2: From unemployed to business owner. The truth is, I haven’t actually really applied for any full-time jobs in years. I don’t actually want one, but I was doubting whether I could add value to my clients’ work if I, myself, haven’t been in the trenches - at an agency or in-house or climbing the corporate ladder. The proof that that is bullshit is in my testimonials, my repeat customers, and my bank account. Just because I don’t work in a restaurant doesn’t mean I don’t understand how to cook food. I do not work in an organization like yours because I do not want to, I work in an organization like mine so I can be free to help organizations like yours.

Change 3: From generalist to specialist: The fear of not bringing in money to pay the rent is real. But my fear of not paying the rent is ridiculous. I’ve been working my ass off and saving pennies since the day I could pick up pennies. I have a safety net, and my safety net has a safety net. The biggest safety net out there is knowing that I have skills that people will pay for - i.e. I can go to a temp agency and have a paycheck by the end of next week in a dire emergency. Not to mention the power of the gig economy. So, fuck money right now. I need to focus on the work.

By specializing, that means I can’t do the same type of work I used to do. I have to let go of some of those reliable sources of income that are not aligned to my strategic vision. The biggest one is graphic design. I’m not a designer, I’m a document production specialist. And that’s a thing I’ve known for ages. But I always offer my services to put together reports and documents because everyone needs them and they’re willing to pay. And money. Well, I am finally ready - with a nice hard shove from my very talented graphic designer - to stop. I am not a designer, have no delusions that I ever was a designer, and I will no longer do design.

Will Blue Bike still do design? Oh, hell yes. I can manage the crap out of a document production project. But it’s just going to work differently. I am a project manager. The designer will conceptualize, the production designer will create the draft, the designer and the client and I will do quality control, and the client will get an even better product for around the same price. The biggest difference is me letting go of having 100% of that money. Oh well. I will just go out there and get more volume to make up the difference.

Next Step: From consultant to entrepreneur. Seth Godin (genius) outlines who being a “freelancer” is different than being an entrepreneur. This is where I have pointed my compass - from doing the work to growing the business. I not only see how I can help clients, but I now am building a collective of powerful people to bring together to help clients. To build processes and set machines into motion. I can’t do all of this important work by myself, I need to set aside the idea that “I alone” can help clients. Truth is, if I’m practicing what I preach, I alone can help my team help more clients than before… if I give up some control. Boom. All aboard.