What James Did This Summer and Where He Got the Money

iStock_traininterior“Well, that’s just it!”

I love it when Naomi says that. I really do. And I grinned from where I was folded up like a lawn chair in the back of the rental car. Her husband Jamie, our driver of the moment, was nodding, and we all agreed:

Some people just don’t get it. And that’s why their business is still limping along doing nothing.

But that’s not what you want to hear about. You want to hear about my summer vacation, don’t you? Yes, I finally took one. I was pondering relaxing on a beach near the ocean somewhere, but that’s about when Naomi from Ittybiz called and said, “You’re coming to downtown Toronto to see us.”

The train trip there was great. I love trains. The city was great, too. (Though I was heard to often mumble, “There’s a lot of people,” throughout the week.) The hotel was okay (I’ve seen better), the sights were amazing and the attractions were fun. Oh, and I went shoe shopping with Naomi. (For sneakers. Please.)

And then… my train ride home was canceled. In fact, all train travel across Canada were canceled. The workers had gone on strike. I was stranded.

I wasn’t worried, though. I could have flown home on a plane. (Yes, I considered it.) I could have hired a taxi driver. I could’ve taken a bus. I could’ve stayed another three or four weeks in TO. There were options – plenty – and I could afford them all. No worries.

Of course, when Naomi and Jamie heard about the train strike, they said: “We’re going to Ottawa.” So I booked us two rooms in a swanky hotel, we piled into Jamie’s rental car, and off we went. Just like that.

As we drove along, Naomi was sitting in the passenger seat leafing through Ontario real estate magazines looking for a house. She had no worries either – they’d just flown over from London, decided to stay in Canada and could choose anywhere they wanted to live.

That’s about when I mentioned money sure did make it easy not to worry. I wasn’t worried about how I’d get home; they weren’t worried about where they’d live.

And that’s when she exclaimed, “Well, that’s just it!”

But we know that many freelancers these days don’t have much money. They don’t have enough customers or work. They’re afraid of marketing themselves. They want to be nice and ethical. They don’t want to crow and brag. They don’t want to push and sell.

So they have no clients, no work and no money.

The money’s out there, though. That’s the thing. The time has never been better for freelancing and starting businesses. The problem is that fear is holding a lot of freelancers back, and someone else is taking the money.

The money’s out there, but it’s going to the freelancers who aren’t afraid of marketing or selling themselves, who aren’t afraid of putting themselves out there and who aren’t afraid of taking their hard knocks… they’re ones making the money.

“You know what, though?” Jamie chimed into the conversation. “It’s not like we didn’t make mistakes to get where we are. We made plenty!” Naomi nodded, and I was nodding too. We all knew what he was talking about. “We try ideas we think will work, and we make all the mistakes and screw up, and then we tell people how not to screw up.”

That’s what we do here, too. We’ve made the mistakes. Been there, done that. We talk about them to you. We’re not afraid of screwing up. We didn’t have a choice in the matter, either. When we began our business, there weren’t all these great resources telling us how to build it and run it and make it a success. We learned the hard way, just like Naomi and Jamie did.

Each hard knock we took was damned hard, too.

Freelancers really have it easy these days. The money’s there for the taking, and no one has to take the really hard knocks or learn through blind trial and error like we did. No way. You guys are spoiled. You get courses like Copyblogger’s Freelance X Factor. This one basically puts everything you need to know to fast forward yourself right to the clients and the cash in the palm of your hand.

We didn’t have that. No one taught us how to market or reach clients or draw them in. Naomi and I built our businesses the hard way, by putting ourselves out there and figuring out how to make it all work. We used our brains, our skills, our talents and our pure determination to succeed. We worked damned hard to get where we are today.

And today, we are all happily ensconced in a hotel apartment suite overlooking Parliament Hills in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital, while we enjoy our road trip together without too many damned cares in the world. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Until Naomi chirped up. “Hey, we were thinking of heading out east to New Brunswick or something and renting a place for a week. Whaddaya think?”

Want the life I have? You need the right kind of attention, and you need to translate it into quality clients who happily pay your fees. Click here to check out Copyblogger’s Freelance X Factor – it’ll teach you what you need to know.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. You got to hang out with Naomi and Jamie? Bet that was a blast. I think you guys together might just be a bit TOO much fun. But, again, you’ve inspired me. I’ve been taking the summer, while the kids are home, to reassess my business plan and to find ways to work better, for more money. Thanks, James!
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Writer’s Market =-.

  2. Tempting James, tempting.

    Would buy if I didn’t have to budget for your website building fees this week. :p

    Perhaps next week.

  3. Michael Martine says:

    There is definitely a peace of mind that comes with not worrying about losing your last few dollars to some unforeseen emergency. Sounds like you guys had a great time. I’ve heard nothing but good about Brian and Sonia’s course, and of they, too, are their own best examples. They know what they’re talking about.

    I’m sure that, after spending this much time with her, you now have enough blackmail material on Naomi to augment that current freelance income, as well. ;)
    .-= Michael Martine´s last blog ..The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Your Business on Twitter =-.

  4. Thanks for sharing another nugget in the current frenzy of push ups for freelancers. It sure helps a lot out here!
    .-= Write a Writing´s last blog ..Dyslex’s Diary =-.

  5. As soon as you mentioned Naomi, I knew who you were talking about :)

    I might check out Freelance X Factor in the near future. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= John´s last blog ..3 Foolproof Ways to Keep Your Promises =-.

  6. @ Michael – A few of the bigger conversations we had was the question of time. As I’m sure you know, there are all kinds of great things we can do to augment income, but as freelancers, we’re responsible for taking care of everything and that means not enough time in a day to to all we want to do. S’comin’, s’comin’!

    As for blackmail material… yes. Tons. Shall we start with “Let’s go out to breakfast!” at a restaurant that didn’t exist? Hehehe.

    @ Write – The push ups are worth it – if you pick the right ones to do for the right reasons. I think a lot of us waste a bunch of time on stuff that doesn’t really make a difference, which is why we only write and promote the stuff that *does* make a difference.

    @ Patrick – Ayup. You should get this one. You’d find it handy for sure.

    @ Mary – That’s the key right there. Work better, for more money. Even if it means taking a step back, taking a bit of time off and examining how your business is doing. Worth it, I’m telling you.

    As for fun… I’m still wondering why the tallest person in the car had to sit in the back seat. *muses*

  7. Lucky duck, getting to hang with Naomi and Jamie!
    .-= E. Foley | Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog ..Dear Anon-O-Box: Recently Separated and Being Asked Out Already =-.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your entrepreneurial journey James. I totally agree with you, I know a lot of talented people that don’t know how to market themselves. I have built my business and expanded my client base with Shameless Self Promotion because I love what I do :-)

    Mistakes were part of my journey too and I welcomed them with open arms since they helped my business evolve and grow. You also mentioned fear, what is fear? I have two interesting definitions to share with you:

    F.E.A.R. : False Evidence Appearing Real
    F.E.A.R. : Feeling Excited And Ready (this one is my favourite)

  9. Sweet, sounds like a fun trip. It’s about damn time you took a little “James time”.

  10. Congrats on taking a well-earned vacation!! Replenishing one’s batteries via good times with friends/family is something to be cherished.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..6 Brilliant Squeeze Page Resources You’ll Want To Explore Part 1 =-.

  11. Lexi Rodrigo says:

    My family just spent a weekend in Toronto. We stayed in the Hilton Suites. And the entire time I kept thinking, “thank you, my clients, for paying for this vacation!”

    I have mostly stumbled into freelancing success by accident. Guess i have a bit of its art inside me.

    Still I like to study the science of successful freelancing. I have ordered Freelance X Factor and have listened to the audios. I have yet to go through the workbook. I’ve skimmed over it and it’s got links to even more awesome resources.

    I urge freelancers to invest in your learning and development. This will really set you apart from your competitors.
    .-= Lexi Rodrigo´s last blog ..The Importance of Client Testimonials =-.

  12. @ Lexi – Ha, we must’ve crossed paths!

    I just want to say this – while yes, clients do provide the income that does pay for our desires and needs in life, I don’t like to say, “Thank you for paying for this.”

    The reason is that saying it that way implies that you’re on vacation thanks to a client’s generosity. The reality is that you worked hard for the money you received in compensation for your labor, and you *earned* that vacation.

    You should really be thanking yourself for sticking with it and working hard.

  13. Yay to taking a vacation! Glad to know my (sometimes not so) gentle pushing got you out of the promise! (Yes, I’m taking more than just a little bit of credit for this vacation and change in attitude!) ;)

    Glad to hear you had a great time and aren’t worrying about getting back to work as soon as possible. Yupi!!!
    .-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..A Midlife Check-In =-.

  14. @ Alex – Oh, don’t worry – you’ll get your very own post from me coming soon, lol. You had a LOT to do with it.

  15. Wow thanks for the post, it was just the pick-me-up I needed to get back to the go-getter mentality. You’re right, there is still lots of work out there. How hackneyed is the “economy” bit….

  16. You deserved the break… and so does Charlie after putting up with me for our site overhaul… but since it seems that you guys never sleep and are ready and waiting with answers to soooo many questions about work, potential work and “issues”, were you working on the road from your laptop or was this a REAL vacation? I have a vision of you and Naomi sitting across from each other at the breakfast table typing away… tap, tap, tap:)

  17. “The time has never been better for freelancing and starting businesses”?

    I think you picked the wrong time to say something like that. Anyway, I loved the story and the way you started it blew me away.
    .-= Wallpaper´s last blog ..32 Beautiful Ferrari Wallpapers =-.

  18. @ Wallpaper – I picked the very right time to say something like that, and I’ll say it again: There has never been a better time to start a business. And in case you’re still not convinced, read this:

    http://menwithpens.ca/recessions-are-the-best-times-for-business

    @ Ethan – Hehehe. We like working with you; it’s no hardship at all. And we do sleep! Believe me, it’s true! As to your envisionment…

    “Hey. Dude. You go check your email, I’ll go check my email, and we’ll meet up here in 15, sound good?”

    “Sounds like a plan.”
    .-= James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last blog ..How to Be Funny =-.

  19. The great trip for you. have a safe and nice day.
    .-= qimi´s last blog ..Sariawan, Stomatitis, Moniliasis Oral, Jamur Mulut : Penyebab dan Cara pengobatannya =-.

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  1. [...] Experience tips for your small business here. You do not have to care about the overlong hair of the bon vivant M. Chartrand of Men With Pens fame to grow your small business with these five lessons. Because while I was in [...]

  2. [...] now have a whole new James who sees how much money the business pulls in (rather than how much more he needs) and who even follows friends into tattoo and piercing parlours [...]

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