Freelancing the Apocalypse

You go to sleep on a Thursday night. It’s late May and summer is about to begin. Your mind is on the beautiful weather the coming months have to offer, weekend bonfires with friends and family and all the fun that comes with it.

You shut your eyes and slowly drift off to sleep, not a care in the world.

The next thing you know, morning has arrived and that beautiful place in your mind that existed prior to dozing off the night before is now a wasteland. The world as you know it has ended. Zombies litter the streets of your hometown. Maybe some are your loved ones, maybe your friends, maybe even your spouse or significant other. Needless to say, you’re all alone.

Of course, you’re not completely alone. There are other survivors out there. We all know the types; cannibals, thieves, pillagers. Anyone that is going to use and abuse your will to live to benefit themselves. It’s every man and woman for themselves in the world now. What do you do? Where do you go? What’s your first reaction to this world you are left behind in? Do you keep going or do you put a bullet between your eyes? Do you find food or shelter? Maybe you decide finding a trusty weapon is your best bet for survival. Or maybe you’re built like a tank and just need your fists.

Believe it or not, this world wasn’t far from my own once upon a time. Let me explain…

Much like a zombie apocalypse, I went to sleep on a Thursday night in late May. Summer was about to begin, but I was fresh out of college not even a year and working for a publishing company. I had plenty of hopes and dreams; start my own graphic design and video production company, become a professional drummer, join the Blue Man Group, direct a feature film or TV show, become an actor; anything but disappear into the vastness of corporate nothingness.

The next thing I knew, morning had arrived. No zombies, no apocalypse; it was a Friday and the weekend was upon me. Sure, summer was upon me as well, but I was now a working adult. No more summer vacations for me. A computer would now be my closest friend between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every single Monday through Friday.

Even worse, I was already in a funk at my present place of employment. I’d been there for just about six months and hated every last minute of it. I was an advertising services representative. Basically, I was a secretary. A young, college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Communication working as a glorified secretary for fourteen dollars an hour.

Note: was. All that was about to change. A veritable apocalypse of my professional life.

I remember the exact minute it happened. Around 10:35 a.m., my supervisor called me into a vacant office and from a note card, read me my termination letter.

I was frozen. Was I completely devastated? Not really. I hated the place, hated the troll sitting in front of me reading my termination letter, and hated who I became because of this job.

But was I scared? To death. My world had changed from being about comfort and security to madness and survival. My world had become post-apocalyptic.

I gathered my few belongings strewn about my desk as my supervisor meticulously watched over me, as if I’d swipe my computer and pawn it to pay June’s bills or something. And as he led me out the door, his parting words I will never forget.

“Thanks Brad.”

Thanks for nothing. Because that’s what you are now, Brad. Nothing. Nothing as this big scary world closes in on you.

Freelancing and the path of entrepreneurship isn’t easy and never will be. Whether you’re a freelance photographer, musician, accountant or contractor of any kind; we’re all in the same boat with different ups and downs in our different industries. It takes a special type of person to be self-employed and actually mean it.

If you’re not self-employed, this applies to you even more. Ever since the great economic meltdown of 2008, scrambling for work and saving money has become the norm and relying on this facade of “steady employment” is a long forgotten memory. I was still in college when it first set in, but I saw it affect my parents and family every single day in the worst ways. No matter your class, you were struggling to survive.

My point is that there isn’t always “jobs” out there, but there sure as hell is “work” everywhere. Only the strongest survive in the weakest of times. Are you strong enough?

Business Anniversary

On May 31st, I celebrated being four full-time years in business with my team, but decided to write a bit of the story on our Facebook page. Here it is!

May 31st, 2013 at around 10:35 AM I decided to take my part-time business in multimedia started somewhere around April 9th, 2009 full-time. I had been pursuing odds and ends jobs throughout my undergraduate, exploring my options after graduating from college, and after some major downs, took the leap with the encouragement of only my parents and Ann.

Through thick, thin, and everything in between, I have kept it going profitably for 4 years. While drumming brings me joy and teaching college is a level of giving back I never thought I would experience in my life (leading me through grad school), running this thing I started with a simple email from a potential client (Stacy Hamilton, actually!) while taking a break at the gym all those years ago in 2009 has taken me more places, brought me into the lives of more incredible people, and allowed for things in my life to happen faster than I ever anticipated, even being a proverbial “millennial who hasn’t had to work for anything.” Trust me when I say, I’ve never worked harder.

I’ve shared the story of taking it full-time, but I’ve never really shared the story of why I ever wanted to start a business to begin with. It’s pretty short. That fateful spring of 2009 where I started, I was in the middle of transferring to Carroll because UW-Whitewater had written me a letter, suggesting I do anything else with my life because they felt I wasn’t cut out for multimedia. Just as I have done with everything since I was a kid, I merely thought to myself “I’ll show them.”

Well, 4 full-time years, 9 years total, I’ve gotten to do a lot. Whether it was producing an evidence video that helped save someone innocent for a law firm, calling Aaron Rodgers “Mr. Rodgers” by accident on a commercial shoot, designing graphics for the majority of Milwaukee’s music and nightlife scene, or watching about 50+ couples say “I do” from the edit screen of Adobe Premiere, I’m glad I did exactly what my parents dreaded when I was younger. Ignore a professional’s advice.

And now, I’m slowly but surely growing a team of freelancers to help with the work I’ve got, giving back as much as I can to budding entrepreneurs, and even diversifying (hopefully) into other industries, because let’s be real, I like a lot of stuff.

If I’ve learned anything so far from business, it’s that life is a playground. Don’t ever settle in anything, even outside of your career. Don’t ever let anyone fit you into a standard they believe you belong in, because the only person that knows you best is you. Don’t categorize yourself, because we can all be great at anything we try. And most importantly, take a chance. If you fail, it’s only practice. Success isn’t this “end product,” success is trying and continuing on.
It’s awfully nice out, maybe I’ll take some time off today. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being in my life.

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Just A Reminder…

I don’t believe that the world wants to be sold to. I believe the world wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Today, everything is so accessible, it makes me wonder what people can’t do? How do you reach people when they’re over-saturated with media already?

You entertain them; you give them a reason to want to be part of whatever it is you’re offering the world, be it a restaurant, a go kart track or a music store. You make them want to be part of your business, not just give you money for goods and services.