Why bother?

Lately I’ve been working with someone who is a tad pessimistic.

Actually, he calls himself a “realist.”

He follows the stock market and the political scene and he says there are no solopro (freelance and consulting) assignments out there. Every business is contracting, not expanding. No one is hiring. No one has any money to spend. And if they are hiring and spending money, they can get it done cheaper overseas.

Yes!! That’s what I love to hear!!!

It’s officially hopeless.

Now I can go back to doing what I do best: watching TV. Now’s the time to watch all the recorded TV shows collecting e-dust. Then I’ll wile away a few hours on Bravo, home of inane reality TV.

And to make a good day even better, I’ll munch on chips and dip.

I love bad economic indicators. They save me more time than computer upgrades and carry-out dinners combined. Because if I didn’t know in advance that nothing will work, I’d have to waste time marketing.

Now for the negative side: Unfortunately, marketing effort still succeeds.

I’ve written previously about the miracle of making 1,000 calls. Phone 1,000 individuals who are valid prospects for your services, and freelance / consulting gigs will magically appear. It’s like some kind of David Copperfield trick.

Even when “the big picture” implies that marketing is futile, that simply isn’t the case.

Marketing is not without risk. Even after 1,000 calls it is theoretically possible you will have no assignments. (OK, maybe the 1,001th call will be the lucky one.)

Or you risk proving that your theory of life’s futility will prove wrong. (I hate being wrong, even when I’m making money. Sulking is so much fun.)

And even if somehow you don’t get work now, you risk that by putting out the fish hooks, you will eventually catch the big ones that are still upstream. You’ll have a tested list of contacts, and better yet, people will remember you when they have work to be done in the future. (Unless you believe the economy will never pick up.)

The other day I was talking to a friend who offers virtual assistant services to the realtor market. Now that’s an industry we all know is in the crapper.

But surprisingly, her business is growing and she’s not slashing her rates to grow it.

No matter what we think we know, every industry has people who haven’t thrown in the towel. They continue to compete and they continue to spend money on their business in order to compete more effectively.

We tend to think the marketplace is flooded with talent, but when we ourselves look for talent to hire, it doesn’t seem to be true.

Take website developers. It seems like a lot of people are in this field, but when you talk to marketers, it’s amazing how many people are waiting for their web person to finally do the work they’ve promised.

In short, talented people who meet deadlines are in demand, no matter what the headlines imply.


6 responses to “Why bother?

  1. Diana,

    Spot on as usual! I believe as you do that tough times create their own opportunities. As you point out, we nee to work hard. (1,000 calls ain’t easy…)

    And we also need to apply all our smarts to the search for work; the same creativity that we apply to doing the work once we get it.

    If we simply do what everyone else is doing, we will get the same results – no work. Perhaps instead of sulking, we can each be asking how to best leverage these circumstances to offer services that are uniquely valuable right now.

    That at least creates a path forward.


  2. This is a powerful statement:

    “I’ve written previously about the miracle of making 1,000 calls. Phone 1,000 individuals who are valid prospects for your services, and freelance / consulting
    gigs will magically appear. It’s like some kind of David Copperfield trick.”

    I don’t know why, but that section just made all kinds of bells go off in my mind. Now the trick is finding which 1,000 to call :).

  3. Gail Duberchin

    Hi Diana,

    Great article! I know publishing isn’t exactly your field, but everyone says that publishing is going under and there are no opportunities. Just stop writing and find a real job. I just heard that a writer whose books are genre benders got $5 million for her third novel. Publishing is supposedly another industry that is going broke because the economy is so bad. I wish I was that broke.

    Gail Duberchin

  4. Gail, publishing isn’t my field. However, I suspect that the big problem is among the traditional publishers. People are still reading so people are still obtaining books–tho some of this reading is self-published books, e-books, etc. Another industry about which I know little is the recording industry–the big companies are suffering but independent musicians can succeed if they know how to use the Internet, viral marketing, etc.

    If it’s any comfort, getting fiction published has always been difficult. Tho I don’t know for sure, I’d guess that it’s not all that much more difficult to get published today, it’s more that the reasons for not getting published have changed.

  5. Reagan, I’ve suggested ways to identify contacts in your field way in the past, and other old postings touch upon this subject in passing. Check out these past posts on this blog:

    Who to phone for freelance and consulting assignments?

    Telephone the right person for freelance or consulting assignments

    Good luck!

  6. Lisa (lablady)


    Another great article! And, actually, just what I needed to hear today – all of it! Now, I’m off to make a list of 1,000 people to call. Ok, I’ll start small…50 people to call. 🙂 Thanks!

    Oh, you’re right too. In every industry that seems to be letting go of employees or is advertising a hiring freeze, there are still companies hiring, or the same companies have positions open that are NOT included in their hiring freeze. In fact, I just read about this on a company site yesterday! This company had a hiring freeze on but there were at least 6-10 positions that were not included in that freeze that they were looking to fill.

    Moral of the story? Always read the fine print and don’t ever be afraid to ask.

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