I'm currently sitting outside listening to the bees, watching the leaves gently shake in the breeze, smelling the fresh spring air. The early morning chill is lessening, the sun still accompanies the day until near 8:30pm.
I feel strangely at peace and yet nervous, apprehensive. As a freelancer, you have to be a go-getter, proactive. That's fine, I am those things. I can work all day and night and then again the next day.
But as a creative, our struggle is somehow more. We have to continually prove ourselves, it's like one long interview process. My portfolio is always being updated, I maintain a strong level of self-development, I renew all the right software, I'm aware of the current illustration landscape. We also have to sell ourselves. My traditional style may not be with the current digital trend, but that's what sets me apart! Hire me and people will appreciate the effort, the texture, that hand-crafted touch. We have to be confident almost to a level of arrogance, but don't go over the top. No one likes a show off.
I used to struggle with this. I was the one that never tooted my own horn. I let my parents boast about my school achievements at family gatherings, otherwise they would have gone unknown. I waited for people to ask before I told them of new exciting developments. I would feel embarrassed to talk about someone's interest in my work, but welcome and want other people to do so about themselves. I've slowly overcome this, because as a freelancer, if you don't put yourself forward as the best option, no one will hire you. If you sit back and wait for it to happen, it won't happen.
You might feel as though you're not ready to start proving how good you are. I think that's somehow a requirement of many creatives. We may never be happy with our portfolio, but I promise you, it won't be given to the queen. It will be handed to someone who sees something different and says, that'll work. That's all you need.
I'm in a bit of a "what do I do" phase, and I feel like that's the reason for my nerves and apprehension. When there isn't much money coming in, and you're not sure of your next move, you can doubt your worth, as we all seem to connect monetary gain with value these days. I feel in these times we need to sell ourselves to ourselves. We are the most important person in this game of chase. Without us, nothing will ever be able to happen. We need to look back at those completed works, think about those strangers that keep seeking you out for a commission based on something you've already done, put on some catchy music (Christmas carols!) and reminisce about all those good creative successes.
Someone's you need to toot your own horn to be able to hear the music play.