Freelancers vs Entrepreneurs

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin‘s. He’s a brilliant marketer, and he knows how to make the most of the web. A couple of years ago, he made an e-book available, for free, called the Bootstrapper’s Bible. Yes, I’m a slowpoke. But it’s not outdated, and his words haven’t stopped making sense. There is one passage in particular that I want to make sure you take a look at — even if you don’t want to spend time going through the whole e-book (which I do recommend).

As you consider different business models, you need to ask yourself the critical question above. This is a moment of truth, and being honest now will save you a lot of heartache later.The difference? A freelancer sells her talents. While she may have a few employees, basically she’s doing a job without a boss, not running a business. Layout artists, writers, consultants, film editors, landscapers, architects, translators, and musicians are all freelancers. There is no exit strategy. There is no huge pot of gold. Just the pleasure and satisfaction of making your own hours and being your own boss. An entrepreneur is trying to build something bigger than herself. She takes calculated risks and focuses on growth. An entrepreneur is willing to receive little pay, work long hours, and take on great risk in exchange for the freedom to make something big, something that has real market value.

I write a lot about how many freelancers don’t seem to treat their work as a business, and this passage really drives that idea home. This is not the type of freelancer I want to be. I may not want employees and all that, but I do want to build a business that can make me more and more money, without committing every waking hour to it. At first glance, it seems like there is no opportunity to build such a business: after all, I get paid directly for what I write. I write an article or put in an  hour and get paid for it.

But there are ways to expand your efforts as a freelance writer, if you want to. Even something as selling reprint rights can make you a little extra money that you might not have thought to look for. The important thing is that you have to want it. You have to be dissatisfied with your current income, and surprisingly, most writers seem fairly content. They’ve found a comfort level. I can make a whole list of why building a business is important: Junior’s college education, affording health insurance, improving your expected retirement. That’s just me of course.

Are you content with your freelance writing business? Or do you want to build it into something bigger?

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