Monday, June 29, 2009

Serenity Tip: Partner Up

Last week, I wrote about working with groups of other freelancers to increase the numbers of queries you send. But what if you don't have a crowd of fellow freelancers to lean on, or even three more? Could you find one?

Here's why you should.

The advice to partner up isn't just good when you're a little kid faced with crossing a busy street. If you're a freelancer looking to navigate the sometimes-treacherous world of freelance business ownership, you need a buddy, too.

In a formal capacity, this is what I do with my coaching clients: I help them navigate the freelance business world. We come up with markets, we set deadlines, and when we talk, they report back on their progress. I hold them accountable.

My support as a coach carries more weight because my clients are paying for me to be their accountability buddy. You can create that system with another freelancer, however. You just have to find the right freelancer.

She has to work at a similar pace as you

If you want to send a query a day and your goal buddy wants to send one a month, you may not help one another. Instead, the one looking to send a query a day may feel slowed down by the once-a-monther; and the once-a-monther may find herself comparing herself to the uber-prolific one and beating herself up. That doesn't help anyone and doesn't get either of you closer to a sale or a more serene business life.

She has to show up

Sure it's obvious, but it's also one of the most important requirements. If you agree to call each other once a day, she has to show up. And so do you for that matter. A flaky goal buddy will leave you working by yourself, and that will defeat the whole point of seeking support.

She has to be your cheerleader, not your critic

If you find yourself dreading talking to your goal buddy or you find it excruciating to stay on the phone with her because all she does is complain about what's not working, it won't help. It could even feed your own self-doubt and run down your stamina. Keep looking.

The only way to know if your goal buddy is right for you is to try it out. Sure, do a gut check when you first talk to each other, but then take the plunge, with the caveat that you'll reassess the relationship at a predetermined interval. I recommend a month, but you might know after two weeks. Or a day. Who knows?

Now that you've got a buddy, set goals for working together. Ask each other:
  • What freelancing task do you struggle most with?
  • What kind of support has worked for you in the past?
  • What kind has derailed you?
  • What step do you want to be held accountable to?
  • What do you promise to do if you don't meet your goal?
With a freelance friend, we made a bet: We'd each send a query a day, and if either of us didn't make it for a month, we'd buy the other dinner. If we both did it, we'd split the meal, ideally with all the money we were making from our sales. It was a fun way to have it mean something and to build our freelance friendship.

Who can you recruit as your goal buddy for the month?

Photo by Rob Hoey.

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