A Workforce of One: Freelancing by the Books
Many Americans are donning pajamas instead of suits as they eschew office life in favor of freelancing. But is it really possible to make a living from your living room? These experts say you can.
With Americans increasingly going it alone, it’s ironic that the king of connections, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, should write a book whose title epitomizes this New Work Order: "The Start-Up of You." But as with LinkedIn, he’s on to something--if you’re itching to escape the office, there’s only one person who has your best interests in mind. Go find a mirror; your best friend will be right there looking back at you.
Michelle Goodman, author of the "Anti 9-5 Guide" and "My So-Called Freelance Life" is convinced that there’s a life outside the grind, but she acknowledges that it’s not easy. Goodman says you have to take as much care with what’s in your fridge (in the land of self-reliance, don’t waste food!) as you do with what’s on your resume. And if you’re not quite ready to flee the office, then make the most of the years before you take the plunge--for a start, get to work half an hour early and scare the pants off your sleepier colleagues.
To succeed out of the mainstream, however, you're going to need to be your own best advocate. So if you’re worried about a charisma deficiency, you could always take heed of "The Charisma Myth"--author Olivia Fox Cabane was lecturing at the United Nations at the tender age of 25, so she knows a bit about chutzpah. The bad news? She cites an MIT study that suggests we have only two seconds to make a first impression, so choose your words carefully.
If all that’s too scary, how about having your cake and eating it, too? In "The Six-Figure Income," authors David Lindahl and Jonathan Rozek say you can make great money beyond your main gig (erm, what are you waiting for?), and you can do so by thinking small--being a "micromanufacturer and micromarketer" is the way to go.
You won't stay lean if you take Andy Kessler's advice--he says to "Eat People" if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. What this means is killing the jobs in your organization that don’t add value, being willing to "create artificial scarcity," and letting the market decide what works and what doesn’t.
If inspiration and ideas are your thing, then check out Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho's book "Creative Inc.," which outlines what it takes to make a living wage doing art, design, writing, animation and other non-rote work. Their "nine qualities of a freelancer" include loving what you’re doing, being a good communicator and letting go of criticism.