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How do you know if you’re going the right way as a freelancer?

Your new career as a freelance writer could be the start of a new career and the future of work as we know it - how to stay grounded and motivated in the face of often thankless struggle.

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For the last week, my twitter feed has been 50% made up of people responding to Naval Ravikant’s podcast episode with Joe Rogan, in which he dispels much of his advice on life, work, health and happiness. I’d never heard of him before, but google told me he’s worth billions, so who am I to argue?

Much of his philosophy on life and what has got him to where he is in both his career and personal life (he says he’s “very happy”) was relayed in quotes and ancient traditional wisdom – everyone from Blaise Pascal to Buddha to Nassim Taleb seemed to have been referenced and duly credited. I liked that – both because of Naval’s humble attitude and because it acknowledges the wisdom in old ideas.

The idea that stuck out most for me though, wasn’t one looking at the past, but the future, and Naval’s predictions of how our lives and our careers are going to look in the near and long-term future.

His big prediction in how we work is the reversal of the industrial revolution shift where everyone moved from their own farms and businesses, to work in huge groups for individual factory owners.

He predicts Big Corporations being industry standards in their field – think Facebook, Amazon, Netflix – and eliminating all mid-to-large sized competition. But then with millions of small, independent businesses making up the ‘long tail’ and competing with each other.  

Even doctors might wake up to notifications on their phone from a marketplace app where they get alerted to jobs – and transactions will happen all between individuals.

Everyone working for themselves, their own private brand and business.

It could be healthcare, it could be a trade, or it could be creative work.

Everyone online and able to get whatever they need for themselves.

There are already tons of freelance sites like UpWork and Fiverr; you can network on LinkedIn.

If you like someone’s creative work, you can fund them to do more on Patreon – it’s not just for celebrities anymore, ‘real’ people are making a living from it.

Chatting with my brother recently I was explaining where I’m at in terms of trying to make it as a freelance writer, he reassured me that my progress was steady and sufficient:

 “It’s to be expected when you’ve just moved home and basically decided to make up a job for yourself.”

Funnily, I had the same thought myself just before I moved home – that in the absence of massive desire to find a job, and a workplace, and due to the overwhelming desire in me to write and to work independently:

I’m making up a job for myself.

And it’s daunting.

But it’s reassuring to know that not only are there thousands of people who’ve already done what I’m trying to do, but that it’s potentially the future of how we work. So why not get used to it now?

I haven’t invented a field (writer), or a means of working (freelance), and maybe in a few months I’ll end up getting a steady, secure, long-term writing job with a big company (“They don’t even exist anymore!” I hear you shout), but at least I’ll have figured that out by doing – it’s the only way not to have any regrets, any thoughts of ‘What if I’d done that?’

Still, many of my efforts have been in trying to figure out my niche – which isn’t as simple as sitting down with a pen and paper for an hour.

Trying to figure out not just topics I’m interested in, but also ways to make money by writing about them.

And trying to figure out if it’s possible to just make a living writing about things I love and in ways I like to write. And even figuring out if any of it is worth it without a clear path ahead of me and reward for the work.

It’s still on-going, but the more I write – and apply for jobs, do research and study and take action on what needs to be done – the clearer everything gets.

And not just writing – I have other interests and career ambitions beyond. Maybe all of those will be done for myself as well.

It’s not a prescribed or linear job, where there’s a definite reward for definite work – but if you have faith in the work you’re doing then the route is the same. You’ll carve yourself out just by pushing forward.

So whether I end up working for myself full-time, or for someone else – whether I even end up making a living from this at all isn’t even guaranteed, at least I’ll have tried, and done the work.

You can call it a goal, or self-belief you just have to keep at it and trust that by doing it you’ll end up somewhere good.

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