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Op-Ed: Let’s Talk the ‘Freelance Dance’


“Well, how did I get here?” – David Byrne, Talking Heads

The submissions keep rolling in, and now we have a new scribe in Andrew Baker, who’s spent the last decade-plus as a copywriter/art director at the likes od TBWA\Chiat\Day, Team One, Deutsch and Dentsu. Baker will be chiming in fairly often to discuss what he likes to call “The Freelance Dance,” which should give you the basic gist of his entry. Anyhow, welcome Andrew and take it away. You can check out his website here and on Facebook at andrewbaker77.

In June of 2000, after returning to Deutsch LA from a Hawaii vacation, Donny’s mini-me fired me. Told me, though the vacation was approved, the fact I took it, was a clear let down of “team morale.” Throughout his lawyerish soliloquy, I enjoyed one of his fruit basket apples, crunches that drown out the ramble, and then interrupted him with a “Dude, the 405 is wide open, how much do I get?” His terse lips hesitantly released a figure. Didn’t even hear the number, but told him to double down that number or else I’d sue. Got booked on my first freelance project before I left the parking lot. He double’d down. Life was good.

Since then, it was ten years (2000 – 2010) of easypeasyJapanesey money. Digging ditches in the snow, crewing a dive boat in the winter, that’s work. I know, I did it. Getting paid crazy money to sit around and say “hey, what if…” from the comforts of your Malibu rum stocked home, that’s just too cool to quit. And for ten years, I rolled. Big money and three to four months off a year. No worries, all the way through permalancing 2008 to 2010 with the impossibly nice folks at Merkley on Mercedes-Benz. 2011 and 2012 didn’t exist, as I was bouncing around Southeast Asia chasing adventure. And now, 2013.

“Desperate times…” a freelance friend with a great book and even better attitude writes me.  “Haven’t been booked in six months..” another cries. “Slow, really really slow” a third, who’s been at the Freelance Dance as long as me. “Mojave silent…” I reply.

“Is it my book?”

“Is it my work ethic?”

“Is it my age, location, hair style, desk position, Pandora music selection, Facebook abilities, not enough of this experience or too much of that…?”

The endless list of insecurity that almost all unbusy freelancers walk through every morning, when that magical midnight email, the one that will save their house and kid’s daycare cost and relieve them from a diet of Top Ramen, doesn’t arrive.

From there, it’s a day of fast fingers on every social media network. LumpedIn, Find-me-some-Busy, TwitterforGlitter etc etc. How much do I post to get noticed without being annoying? Should I put a pic up of my kid, and comment WILL WORK FOR DAYCARE DOLLARS?

This is the “THE FREELANCE DANCE,” a column created from The Trenches of the business, where the creatives who can’t be cubicalized can come for a little relief and a lot of perspective and perhaps a few good tips on the current lancing market.

See you in a week, hopefully booked.

Best luck to all who call the Freelance Dance home.

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