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A little daylight
The last time you heard from me was September 6th. I’ve since turned 39 years old and watched the end of summer slip through my fingers. We’ve got new school routines; the heavy gears of life churn on, waiting for no man.
On July 14th I wrote:
Over the past fourteen weeks, I’ve tried to find a new path. I’ve been machete bushwhacking my way through thick brush looking for a little daylight.
My goal has been to fight through this period to find my own way. I’ve been trying to answer this question for decades now: can I make money AND do work that I care about? I still don’t know…
It’s been six months since I got fired from my last job. When I first got sacked, I gave myself four months to see if I could find a better way of working. When I tallied up a couple of freelance projects, savings, unemployment, and generosity from friends and family, that’s how long I could last before I’d need to find a job again.
The last two months have felt like injury time in futbol. Regulation time has expired, but I still wanted to try and find my way to the promised land.
My promised land is running a small “lifestyle business”; doing work that feels good in my bones, controlling my schedule, and making solid money. I don’t need to be a member at Old Sandwich, I just want to be able to play Braintree Muni in the middle of the day on a Wednesday.
During injury time, I’ve watched my credit card balances climb, I’ve been late on payments, and have depleted the rest of my savings. I’ve half heartedly applied for sales jobs, writing jobs, marketing jobs, and considered banging nails or waiting tables. Anything to extend the runway and keep the dream alive. I’ve worked hard on a podcast for the Shift Group, made a little cash writing blog posts, and helped a friend with a recruiting project for his construction company. I was patching it together like a mismatched quilt, but it was not enough to sustain me.
On Friday September 23, I found a little daylight.
I signed a new client to my little creative shop called “blacksmith” (https://blacksmith.work/). I’ve got two clients and a smidgen of momentum. The first client’s show is live in the wild and has been a great asset to demonstrate what we can do for companies who want to start podcasts and tell stories. Have a listen (and leave a review?):
With these two clients, the calendar is more full. From a revenue perspective, these two projects will bring in around 22,500 per quarter (gross). For the titans of industry reading this, that kind of money is in your couch cushions, but for me, it ain’t nothin’. Landing a couple of clients and getting my hands dirty doing the work has bolstered my confidence. I think I can be dangerous with a little momentum. It feels good to feel good.
Something I noticed:
If I’m honest with myself, early on in this process I adopted a bit of a martyr mindset. I approached each day with a ‘me against the world mentality.’
Having a chip on your shoulder can be a helpful way to get started. Walking around with a fck you attitude can give you the energy to get moving. For me, that energy is not sustainable over the long term. It’s too easy slip into a negative space. I found myself judging other people’s projects and companies and questioning whether or not they “deserve it”.
More recently, I’ve asked for help and let people in. Turns out, people want you to succeed. If you’ve been a good human for a long time, people are standing by waiting to help.
So what does the work look like?
When I set out to work differently, I embraced the part of me that’s always been a writer. I wanted to drag that out into the light. Podcast production work is writing heavy. I spend most of my time coming up with episode concepts, writing scripted sections, guest coordination, guest research, conducting pre-show interviews that lead to episode outlines, and writing blog posts. We also make podcast artwork and clips for social media.
This makes the “what do you do for work” question at social gatherings a little more complex. It was much easier to answer with a simple job title.
“Im in sales. I sell software.”
Unless you were talking to another salesperson, the questions usually die off after the follow up, “what company do you work for?”
Not the case when you answer with, “I’m a writer and I work on podcasts.”
“Oh, cool. Have you worked on anything that I might have read or listened to?”
Probably not. I’ve considered saying “I deliver pizzas” to make things easier.
After you hit a milestone worth celebrating, “what next” can be an infuriating but natural question. I’m going to put my head down and work hard to make these two clients happy with the work. In parallel, I’m going to find the next client to work for and I’ll build a short bench of expert freelancers who can help me with the work. I want to make great content for people.
I’ll continue writing short pieces here at Carrot Cake and nudging other personal projects forward. I’m working on something longer that might be a screenplay or a novel but I think we are a year away from having a draft of it complete.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with a short story about stealing pizzas or firing guns indoors. As always, thanks for reading.
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