" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

May 10, 2010

Self employment and the Illusion of Leisure

Sometimes I get annoyed when people look at me, enviously, and say... "Ya but, you only work 4.5 hours a day, four days a week". That assessment makes it sound as if I'm independently wealthy and the rest of the time I'm just sittin' back with my feet up.  It also makes it sound like there's no such thing as choice. I made a choice. You can too!

My choice has meant living at the poverty line but it also means incredible natural beauty, peace, solitude, and in some moments, sheer happiness and gratitude at being in this environment. At 49, I'm trying to do, one more time, what I should have been doing my entire life but never got right because I have never approached it in a systematic, professional manner or believed, truly, that I could do it.

I work 4.5 hours a day at a part-time job because I need a minimum income to maintain my financial comfort level (or unease level) as the case may be.  I don't have the benefit of a second income as a safety net. I don't have the distractions that another person in the form of a partner would bring or any of the positives as well. At what cost I have always asked. Maybe that's truly because I've never met the "right" person but it's more likely that my choice is my choice and I prefer it that way.  The "right" person is afterall, to some degree, a choice.

Friday I was up at 6:22 am. I was on the computer almost immediately while making coffee. Initially, I was looking at my photos trying to decide which ones to order in 8x10 sizing. Did I need that at this point? The Market isn't busy enough at this point. It's a fine line between having a healthy stock and having too much stock.

I was reviewing my Excel spreadsheet looking at who I was going to cold call that morning. I was reviewing my writing resume, tweaking it, and adjusting the pitch I was going to use in the e-mail and on the phone. I was Googling companies and trying to narrow down the name of the right person to call and then around 9:00 am I started picking up the phone. I was doing that, non stop until about 3:00 pm. At that point, I took a bit of a break. I didn't leave the cottage until then. I brushed my teeth finally. Ugh.  I went over to say Hi to Marjorie, my neighbour and sat a bit with her.

After that, around 3:45, I came back and started thinking about story ideas that I could pitch to a specific magazine that I have in mind. I had a response to one of my queries from a magazine that I'd sent a while ago and they told me to follow up. They were asking for images. They wanted to see the images that would accompany the story. I had to e-mail the photographer who the story is about and get him to get me images.

I have been reading Writers Digest lately and I really like it. It's a good magazine with lots of practical tips. One of the tips is, know the magazines and then come up with story ideas. It's much easier  than trying to pull story ideas out of the air and then figure out who might buy them. Do it the other way around. I've ordered Canadian Writers Market and Writer's Market 2010 on a great deal from Amazon. No shipping charges.

My friend Lisa who is the networker/cold caller extraordinaire pointed out that in order to get work doing contract writing or freelance writing articles, querying at least 25 people a week via e-mail and having a systematic system for following up in a cold call is important. I'm not sure how I'm going to do that while I'm working 20 hours a week at the job that's really just an annoying distraction, but that's my goal. 

I'm starting to really think about how I'm using my time. This Blog is really a waste of time except, it's a bit like therapy or something. I can't not do it at this point it seems.

My friend Karin who just moved back to Vancouver was very good at this. She works way more than 40 hours a week doing all that's related to her art. When you walk into her house she has a bulletin board and on it are competitions and grant deadlines hanging with dates in black pen on the top. She's very good at setting boundaries with people making it clear that she's working because when you're an artist, people think you're just playing around or something, not working. When I first came to Salt Spring, I remember thinking, so much for the laid back artist stereotype after learning about how much she works.

Back in my own realm, by 6:00 pm I went out for about 3 hours. Then, I came back and I started getting my photographs in order for the market. I was making more photo cards until 10:45 pm and doing some matting as well.

I went to bed around 11:00 to get up at 6:30 am to go to the market. So you see, when someone says to me, you only work 4.5 hours a day like I"m a lazy slob, they be wrong!

Are you self employed? What are some of your biggest challenges? I'd really like to hear about them.

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