No Guarantees For Freelancers
Fourth in a series: Read the third post
A leading challenge for freelancers is lining up enough work to keep the lights on, the rent paid, and food on the table. How I made it while rarely having that kind of guarantee the past 35 years is almost beyond me.
I say “almost” because I knew God had called me to do this. He just didn’t guarantee smooth sailing.
I heard the call in early 1988 as I was sitting in the building where I had rented an office for my public relations agency after we moved back east from Colorado in October of 1987.
Three weeks after we moved, the stock market took its biggest one-day crash in history.
On “Black Monday,” the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22% in a few hours, the sharpest single-day market downturn since the Great Depression.
Psychology of Fear
In reality, the downturn proved not to be a long-term disaster. I remember later reading that anyone who didn’t engage in panic selling that Monday had seen an increase in their stock values two years later.
For the moment, though, that didn’t ease the psychology of fear that seized the business world. The relevance for me was that most of my clients were small, publicly held companies.
The backlash in that arena proved severe. One company I did some work for had planned to go public, relying on interim financing to bridge the gap. When the market crashed, so did the willingness of financiers to offer interim loans. Instead of going public, the company went under. My $900 invoice was one of numerous ones that ended up in the bankruptcy documents.
On and on it went. Bad news after bad news after bad news. When the dust cleared, the only client I had left was a small oil company. I wrote press releases three times a year about the company’s quarterly earnings, and drafted a letter to shareholders annually on behalf of the president.
That was hardly enough to keep things going. I did all kinds of odd jobs to survive. I wrote some material for a monthly magazine operated by friends. I drafted a video script for a corporate promotional piece, the first and only time I had done that.
I did various freelance pieces.
Still, what was I going to do? What did God want me to do? Why had I sensed Him leading us back from out west only to see everything collapse?
At the peak of my despair, sitting there one afternoon and staring at the wall, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking. His voice was so soft, so quiet, so nearly indiscernible that had I not been paying attention I might have missed it.
“I want you to use your writing talent for Me,” He whispered.
While it felt good to have a sense of direction, from that point it took more than six years for a major breakthrough.
In the meantime, I wondered why God had made it so hard to follow His direction. Sometimes, I still do. Yet, in maneuvering my way through hard times, I’ve learned a depth of lessons about God’s faithfulness and His provision—things I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.
I also learned the value of a vision. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me going.