Today is my 3rd workiversary! Three years ago today was the first day I worked, full-time, for nobody but me.
Confidence by way of Disaster
As this year wraps up, I've noticed a quiet but steady confidence in myself that I didn't have even six months ago. This year brought a select few, exceptionally rough projects. They were all really close together and I suddenly lost every shred of self-confidence I had scraped together.
But I hate having a job so much that I stuck with it anyway. And having come through those disasters and then delivering some fantastic, exciting projects--well, I learned you become professional because of the mistakes, bad projects, and so on. You can't get there without missteps.
I learned that I will fuck up. As a type A, overachiever type, I thought I could power my way past mistakes. In my day job, my work was predictable enough that I could pretty much ensure that big mistakes didn't happen. Web development...friends, web development is not like that. Self-employment is not like that.
The Truth about Computers
I spend a lot of time interacting with objects and code I have never seen and will never see. Code on a server in a place I've never been. I've learned a lot of tricks to figure out the shape of a thing I can't see, like the three blind men and the elephant. It is a brutal way to spend your time and I'm learning all the time how to distinguish what is real from what I think is happening. Just because I think two things are the same, they are not necessarily the same.
With computers, the situation is the situation. No amount of emailing, diplomatic language, smiling or buying treats will convince the server to do what you want it to do. Sure, emailing, diplomatic language, smiling and buying treats is still the largest part of my job--after all, it WILL convince the person who owns the server to help me out--but when push comes to shove, social magic doesn't fix computers.
This year I learned that even in the age of mass production and precision lasers and whatever, there are still mistakes, there are still errors, and there are still mutants.
Talking to Strangers for Fun and Profit
Networking is making me a better person.
It's okay. You can close the browser, shake your head and say, "Man, she was so promising before she decided that NETWORKING was making her a better person." I understand.
As a born introvert who would rather stay home every day forever than go out, I am not....the most attentive friend. Like, if someone appeared in front of me and asked me to go to lunch, I would be delighted. Yes! You are great! I totally want to have a sandwich with you! But my default is internal.
Over the last several months I've been Networking. I've read books on the subject, I've gone to all kinds of events, and I've learned how to build relationships. For someone like me, this kind of has to be taught.
The good news is that LA is, like, a networking dreamland. Everybody is constantly networking, so it doesn't feel awkward! I have permission to network and everybody is happy about it! And by practicing networking, I'm learning how to be a more socially engaged person, which is pretty much a win all around.
Separate myself from my business
Yeah, so last year I was all, "Let's mix it together! Let's always just be me and never separate work and personal stuff again!"
Well, let's just say I feel differently now. I'm putting some psychological distance between myself and my work, because I was starting to freak out that I didn't want to build websites ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME OH GOD I'M A FRAUD. So I've got some new rules. I write myself a regular paycheck instead of just putting everything in my account and watching the money flood in and out. I'm probably going to name this business something that isn't "Tara King". And I'm thinking of it as something bigger than myself.
You guys, I'm ready. I'm ready to kick ass. I'm ready to take on bigger projects, to do bigger stuff for more people. To share my expertise instead of wondering when people would read my blog. Over the past few years I was laying the groundwork and my "big dreams" were being able to pay my rent. I've upgraded my "big dreams" which means I have a picture of a Maserati on my wall.
This anniversary comes in the midst of a sea change. I'm making a lot of changes and I feel better about my business than I have in a very long time. I'm behind on the big rebrand/rebuild project, but it's a big project. I thought I could set a time limit and get myself to zoom through it but there are a lot of bricks to put in place.
Once I have my brand in place? Hell yes I'm going to zoom through getting it up and live and in the world. But for now, I am doing what I can.
Over the next year, I'm focused on:
- building routines and structures in my business, and
- putting my work in the public eye (oh god why)
What you can expect:
- Speaking engagements and workshops
- A new website
- More writing
Thanks for reading along. I feel so grateful to be here. If you have questions about working for yourself, building a career as a freelancer, or whatever, hit me up--I'm more than happy to share what I know.