A sign on the wall of my high school weight room said “Attitude is essential. A good one will get you far.” As a teenager who knew it all, I rolled my eyes and walked away. It turned out to be one of those lessons I had to learn the hard way.
In 2002, I got laid off from my fabulous online editing job thanks to the .com bust. I freaked out for awhile and, once reality set in, I decided to go solo.
At first, I was all excited about being my own boss, not having to drive to work and getting to wear my pajamas all day. I wrote a handful of queries, and I’d race to the computer each morning, enthusiastic about getting my first freelance account.
Finally, my first assignment came and soon after, I got my second one. I was excited to get work but not so excited to learn that I wouldn’t even get paid. Here I was, a published writer who had five years of experience and a college degree, and I couldn’t even get a paying client!
I was struggling financially and my unemployment check left me barely treading water. I eventually started to get delusional thinking maybe putting on make up and punching a time card might not be such a bad idea after all. I resorted to applying for government assistance.
I knew it wasn’t supposed to be easy. I’d heard countless stories about my entrepreneur-grandfather making sacrifices and working long and hard hours to create what we now call Sonic Drive In.
I knew something had to change so I started to look within myself for answers. Why was I failing? What made the next person succeed? I remembered my freshman English teacher telling me that writers never made money. My mom agreed.
Their un-inspirational monetary comments aside, I stayed true to myself. But their negativity also resulted in a tiny voice inside of my head which sometimes wondered if they were right after all. Was I really doomed to be a starving artist my whole life? Did I really have what it takes to be a successful freelancer? The internal battles were festering.
I kept meeting and networking with other freelancers, and I saw how their businesses were thriving. They were getting full-time work, how come I couldn’t? And then it hit me. I could.
Within weeks of making that decision, something miraculously changed, and I suddenly had too much work to handle on my own. I’d have to say the biggest thing that changed was, quite simply, my mind.
>From that moment on, I decided that I had to push past that doubt and make it happen for myself. It suddenly didn’t matter if a myriad of people told me I would never make money. I was just determined to make it happen. In a very short period of time, my inbox was swamped with clients.
I could go on and on about the costly mistakes I made as far as writing and sending queries, failing to network and even sleeping in too much, but the fact is, a positive attitude made all the difference for me. Now, I never want to hit the snooze button.
I finally saw the writing on the wall. It all made sense. Though I couldn’t control an editor’s opinion of my query, I could control my attitude towards my own business.
I am happy to report that I will soon move from my small two-bedroom apartment to a spacious four-bedroom house. And not only did I just choose the home of my dreams, I’ve paid off several credit cards and the bank no longer owns my Saturn. I do.
I am growing and learning more each day. Now, my client list includes Glamour, Austin Monthly, Austin Woman, Good Life, Austin Baby and Family Life and many more. Now I know that every day, in every way, life just gets better, better AND better.
Brooke Hadley lives, works and plays in downtown Austin. She has a supportive hubby and two beautiful boys. She’s the proud owner of Composing Moments, a writing, research, editing and photography business. She does it all and lives by the matto: The Sky’s No Limit. Check her out online at: http://www.ComposingMoments.com.