Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The 10 To-Dos When You Get THE CALL

Once in a while, fate throws you a monkey wrench that will completely rock and near capsize your game. I get that once or twice a year. I call it… the lure of the full time job.
It has good timing, too. Just when you're neck deep in freelancing shit (read: lots of work, delayed checks).  Just when you're right at the cusp of questioning the validity of your chosen field. Do I really want this kind of instability? Do I really crave for this kind of excitement? Is stress and panic really my fuck buddies?
In the middle of this existential self-berating, the phone rings --flashing an unfamiliar number. And there it is. A call from your past. A huge agency is asking you to come back to the fold. So...

1. Be open-minded
Hear the agency out. If there's one distinct trait a freelancer has, it's the ability to be open to every opportunity. And that's what this is --an opportunity. So just this once, shut your eyes, bite that lip, take a deep breath, and shed that I'm My Own Boss shtick.

2. Go to the Interview
This is a way for you to see how the industry sees you after so long. This is a way to re-evaluate your performance. This also lets you know your market value. Go to the interview armed with curiosity. You're not a cat. This won't kill you.

3. Seriously Weight Things Option 1
In the middle of your chat, look deep down. Do you have residual hangups about agency life? Have you developed a deep loathing for authority and time sheets? That's what you have to think about before you dive right back in. If you feel nauseous just thinking about this… end this chat now!

4. Seriously Weigh Things Option 2
Ooohkaay… this looks like a good deal. Let's go with it!
But, say, you already have a steady stable of clients and regular work coming from production houses and a consultancy gig with another agency… is taking on a full time job going to kill you? If so...

5. Call for a Compromise
If you can't sacrifice a morsel of your existing solo enterprise, then why not go for a compromise?
Ugh… the rhyming. I just had to. 
Who knows --maybe the agency is actually fine with you onboard part time? As a consultant? As a full time offsite employee? As an on-call semi-regular personnel? So many possibilities.

6. Name your Moolah
Never sell yourself short. Never go through that nasty 'I'm just a freelancer' kinda thing. This is back to big business! If you've been out of the industry loop for too long, don't just send your compensation sheet blind. Research. Ask old friends how much is the position you're being called for rating nowadays. Check websites for rates, too.

7. Black and White it
I cannot stress this enough. Whatever it is you agree on, document it and have it signed. An agency should draft their own contract but I've had experiences wherein I had to do the paperwork. Either way, make sure, the paper exists.


9. Attitude Check
Woohoo! First day! Keep in mind that you've just checked into the big house. Come on time. Come dressed in proper office attire (No jammies for you! Wahaha!). Come prepared to brainstorm. Come ready to fill those hours. Oh, you know the drill.

10. Easy way out
This should probably come in before number 7, but when penning your contract, it's best to agree on some kind of test run period or a not-entirely-binding arrangement. Just so when the freedom bug bites you again, you can easily bail out.

Bottomline: If you're not as jaded as number 3, then keep your doors and windows open. Hey, you might just like coming back, right? You can't knock it until you've re-tried it.
Lure. Bite. Reel 'em in. (That works both ways, by the way.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Raketista's 10-Step Guide to Break Time

Yes, your workaholic take on freelancing is commendable. BUT there is such a thing as taking a break.
Say what now?
Whoa, whoa, whoa… don't panic. Breaks happen and they don't have to be catastrophic. The freelancing world will still spin without you in it for a few beats. And believe me, jumping back in will be as easy as pie. So instead of staring off into that black abyss of 'What if I miss a project when I'm gone?!', why don't you take the step-by-step run-through below and come out refreshed and raring to go… hmm?

1. Maxi or Mini
What kind of break are you going for? Are you thinking of exploring the Alps for a month? Or just ducking into a nearby secluded island for a short and sweet R&R? Of course, your budget plays a huge role in this valuable piece of decision-making. But other than that, decide according to your need. Being a freelancer, there's really no set vacation time for you. No summer holiday or Christmas holiday. So you can easily plan pocket breaks in between work loads without a hitch.

2. The Draught.
Let's be honest. Sometimes the onslaught of work comes in like the devil on speed. Then, vanishes into thin air for weeks. Instead of using this work-less Draught as an avenue for panic, use it for that break you've been putting off for, like, forever. The Draught is there so you can rest. It's destiny.

3. Spread da word
I know you need the escape, but never go MIA. Finish all your pending work and don't accept incoming attacks. Say no humbly. And do write a letter to all your existing clients. Remember that a vacation is important, but so are relationships.

4. Peak Schedules, Shmeak Smedules.
Sure, everyone's going on vacation during the usual calendar holidays. But you're not bound by that. So why not take a holiday off-season? Being freelance means being twice practical than the normal working individual. You choose off-peak seasons because it's cheaper that way and the place is guaranteed less populated. Woo-zah!

5. Spend like a boss
If you think getting a cheaper deal on a vacation spot isn't enough, why not use your influential muscle. You have a client who owns a resort? Strike him a deal for a weekender. You a blogger? Offer your blogging services for a resort exdeal. The possibilities are endless when you're a crafty vacationer.

6. Go Wifi-less
Gasp! Did I just ask you to live in the Dark Ages??? Calm down, cowboy. This is bearable if you're only planning a short break. The key is not to think about work. I'm betting my left arm that the minute you get a whiff of an internet connection, the first thing you'd be doing is checking your emails. Don't. Please. Stop.

7. Better yet, Go Tech-less
OH, THE PAIN! Pfft. Man up. It's not gonna be the end of the world, and it's not gonna take forever. You just need to connect with nature, inner peace, soul search, and all that. And that ain't working while you're busting a Black Ops on the PSVita.
Ok, ok… you can keep your phone for emergency purposes. Geez.

8. Break Buddies
This is crucial. You want to spend this relaxing moment with people who won't talk shop with you. Family's a good bet --if you can stand them. Or friends who don't care what you do for a living or if you botched up your last deadline.

9. Creativity, Re-channeled
You've always used your creativity for work. Let's re-channel for now. On your trip, bring a sketch pad or a journal and a bunch of pens. Sketch a view or write a story inspired by those flying seagulls overhead. Inspiration and creativity don't end just because you're taking a break. Using this power for a different kind of good is most welcome.

Ok, stop thinking about work that will literally drown you when you get back, or the lack of work thereof. Concentrate on sipping that darn coconut juice off its natural fruit and scoping that hunk in the upsetting pair of beach shorts.

That's it. Take a break, recuperate, and recharge. You deserve it. And yes, work will still be there when you come home. As Madonna promised, YOU CAN ALWAYS DIE ANOTHER DAY.