Professional Development Watercooler

3 Lessons Freelancers Can Learn from… Bears

Written by Miranda Pennington

Things that are great about being a bear: You get a diet rich in fish, you’re big enough that most predators don’t bother you, you don’t have to have a LinkedIn Profile, and when you want to go sleep in cave for weeks at a time, nobody thinks it’s weird.

Fortunately we’re not just doomed to a life as sad hairless bear-wannabes. There are things freelancers can learn from bears when it comes to managing our work-life, as assembled by Chris over at Rags to Reasonable.

Lesson 1: Hibernation Mode

Unless you’ve landed a really plum long-term contract or three, odds are your workstream ebbs and flows (or sometimes even dries up entirely). This means you have to know how to match your variable expenses to your variable income—make sure you know how to get your operating costs low and manageable enough to allow even your “hibernation wages” to last you until your next big paycheck.

Lesson 2: Go Where the Food Is

This lesson is both obvious and frustrating when you’re starting out and taking every single job that comes your way. Some of them may not be as lucrative as you wanted or as relevant to your overall goals as you hoped. Still, you take them and accept what the market has to offer since you don’t know if there will be food (i.e. work) if you hold out for something closer to your experience.

Lesson 3: Filling Your Fat Stores

A positive and negative of freelancing is that when it rains it pours, if you’re paid by the project and not hourly. This means you may work for a while in obscurity and then (sometimes months later!) are rewarded with a significant check for a large portion of your work.

The most valuable tip I took away from Chris’ bear-advice was to remember that check is not disposable income; it’s not leftover, it’s not actually a reliable, regular paycheck. Make it last as long as possible by being savvy with your spending and strategic with your saving.If You’re Freelancing, Have a Plan For Your “Hibernation” Season

If You’re Freelancing, Have a Plan For Your “Hibernation” Season

 Read More at Rags to Reasonable

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.