Years ago I realized something. I realized that I was happy at work. I enjoyed going in every morning. And that there were certain clients I truly looked forward to speaking with, working with, those for whom I enjoyed getting things done. I’d look forward to bringing them success. When I started freelancing, I used to tell my then-husband I could do this stuff for free for some of these people – they were just so… joyful! They loved what I was doing for them! They were so kind – they had so much energy! They were grateful – kind. It made me want to work harder. He thought I was crazy. Still does.
But I digress.
Ten years later, I still find joy in making my clients happy. The joy of sending an invoice or getting paid is nowhere near the joy of getting a phone call or an email of thanks or a note saying how pleased they are with my work. That is my joy. That is my fulfillment. And that, my friends, is what fires me up to do it again and again and again.
I realize many people might say that happiness does not a bill pay, but I politely disagree. Because when clients are happy, they happily pay me. And when I’m happy doing the work, I work happy. And I don’t mind working longer, better, more frequently. It’s a cycle that bears repeating.
I was having lunch with an old friend the other day who was telling me that she has turned worked down when she feels she’s working for someone who doesn’t share the same values as herself. I started to disagree when I realized I probably do the same thing.
Since August 2013, I have been on my own, freelancing full time. After just a few months I started to feel like a fraud. I woke up one morning and after several emails and a few phone calls, I was embarrassed because I realized that all I’d done that day was talk with friends. Sure I’d picked up two new projects, offered some advice, set up a few new business meetings and finished a writing assignment, but so what? Those were all just projects for friends! That wasn’t “real” work! I was just faking it! I wasn’t a real business person. I felt like a failure. Even my kids knew it. They’d see calls come in on my iPhone and I’d remind them to please be quiet while I took a client call. “Mom I thought that was your friend? Is ‘client’ another word for ‘friend’?” they’d ask in all innocence. I said as much to a freelance friend of mine. “Do you get paid for any of that ‘fake’ work?” he asked me. “Well, sure, but still…” I trailed off, feeling foolish.
Then, a few weeks ago, in the middle of a Twitter Chat (#sshour), my new Twitter friend Josh McCormack tweeted “My kids think client is another word for friend.” And just like that, I was validated. These “friends” I was working with and for weren’t old high school buddies. They weren’t college roommates or childhood pals. These were professionals I’d met in the working world. I’d only begun calling them friends after we’d started working together. They were clients first, but had quickly become people I respected and admired. They were people I genuinely cared about.
It’s happening in social media too. The people I engage with most frequently I have yet to meet in real life. But I find that their words feel genuine. The conversations are meaningful, and the interactions are always welcome. These people have become “friends.”
And that is one hell of a way to earn a living.
Speaking of doing good work for good people, I’m honored to have very recently been awarded a 2014 Gold MarCom award in the copywriting/white paper category for my work with the awesome folks at Post Foods. If you’re looking for someone to write great content for your website, blog, social platforms or marketing collateral, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s create something fantastic!