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  • Writer's picturePete Burge

Keeping up appearances as a freelancer in Ad-land is exhausting!

I've been freelancing as a creative all rounder for over 3 years now. As you would expect, I've experienced peaks and valleys and everything in between. The thing that I find shocking is just how different I am when I'm in each state. And I mean, gaping chasms of difference!

When I'm in flow state, I look like my mate Joso on the left. I'm totally invigorated. Engrossed in the work with every cell of my body. It's almost intoxicating. But when I'm not busy (and have not been for 3 weeks now), I am a drastically different person. In essence though, I haven't changed at all. The only difference is how I feel about myself and more succinctly, how I feel like I'm being perceived by my peers.

In advertising and a lot of fields I guess, you are only as good as your last job. You are also judged, in my head (as a freelancer) as to how busy you are in general. Or is that just me? When I'm not working, these are the thoughts that flood my fontal cortex -

  • You're not good enough

  • Why are you in this business?

  • Everyone else is busy, why aren't you - answer = I'm crap

  • I'm not a man, because I'm not providing for my family

  • I'm not a good husband

  • I might as well get a job as a dish pig

  • Should I email my contacts for some work?

  • If I come across as desperate, I'll end up working for nothing

  • There is no way I'm putting "Looking for Opportunities" on Linkedin

  • Who would hire me anyway?

Now of course, all of the above is not true. But these feelings and thoughts can be very real when I'm feeling low and have had too much time on my hands. But let's be realistic. As it is everywhere, appearance is important. None more so than the world of advertising. If I'm not continually posting new award winning work, I feel like you can be very quickly forgotten. It's not the fault of the producers, production managers, creatives or crew bookers. They have enough on their plate to concern themselves with.

The real battle here is the one with myself. These feelings can and will continue to raise their ugly mugs when things are quiet. Plus I wouldn't be the first creative to go through periods of self doubt. I just need to find a way to turn down the volume when the negative voices start to chatter.

Anyone out there have any strategies for me?

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