With $50 in my pocket and only one month to find work, I turned my passion into a hustle which landed me gigs worth $8000 in just thirty days.
By being true to myself and knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I had the confidence to pitch and hustle like a pro.
First thing’s first: Believe you can change
If you’re reading this post then you’re already thinking about making a change or you’ve taken the first steps.
You’ve come this far so don’t give up.
It may be rough at the beginning. You may not be living off $50 and eating pasta every day, but the switch from reliable full-time work to freelancing full time can be scary, especially at the beginning when you’re building momentum and gaining a reputation.
You may be lucky enough to have a partner who can support you or you’ve put away savings from your full-time job to prepare for the lean times. At some point, you may have to bite into those savings and reduce your disposable income but stick with it.
Learn to prioritize until you can buy stuff again
I became a freelancer out of necessity because of the recession. No one was hiring back in 2008, so I created work and reinvented myself. It wasn’t easy but in those lean times, I learned about my priorities and I never treated money in the same way again.
In those lean recession years, having a roof over my head and food on the table for myself and my two cats was the only priority. It was not what I couldn’t afford, which was stuff. I had zero disposable income. As long as I found work to pay rent and bills and buy food, I knew I could ride it and the jobs would return.
How I started
I wasted a week cold calling brick-and-mortar job agencies who promised work in some unknown time in the future.
I needed to work now.
I started hustling online for freelance work and posted my services to numerous groups on LinkedIn and I did this religiously every morning before I went out for coffee and a run.
My aunt is a Buddhist and she told me that we must live for today and not worry about tomorrow.
Easier said than done.
I was lucky. Los Angeles is a city of hustlers and I learned from the best.
I fought fear and became fearless in my hustle to find freelance work by focusing on the day and not tomorrow. If I thought about what would happen thirty days from now if I didn’t have a job, anxiety would have left me immobile and useless.
My strategies for landing freelance work
- Do your research. I spent my afternoons researching writing, content, public relations, marketing, social media, SEO, filmmaking, and photography. I devoured everything there was to know about digital communications and media and entertainment in Hollywood.
- Post content daily. Armed with knowledge, I created content and posted film reviews on my blog and PR and social media content on LinkedIn and continued to pitch for work on freelance sites. I pitched to handle publicity for independent films and artists and I reviewed and photographed live bands at iconic music venues like The Viper Room and Whiskey a Go Go to get my name known and out in the world. I created, shared and bookmarked content daily and grew my audience and influence.
- Use your passion. Use your passion to find work. When employers see that passion together with well-informed knowledge and opinion, they trust your experience and influence.
- Understand the market. When you understand the skills which employers need from US freelancers, check out what they’re paying and respect your worth. For me, once I’d researched the freelance job market, I had a good idea about what kind of jobs were hiring and paying a livable wage in Los Angeles. Although I was down to my last few dollars, I knew it was pointless to compete for the kind of low ball jobs which were hiring international freelancers.
- Confidence is king. I was confident in my skills only after I had researched the market and created and shared content. I was then able to pitch for work with a kick-ass mentality.
- Be who you are, not what you want to be. Make the change from I want to be to I am: an entrepreneur, a writer/reporter/editor/blogger, a freelancer, a publicist, a digital rockstar, a photographer, a filmmaker.
When I stopped thinking I was an imposter and I respected my experience and intuition, I was inundated with gigs.
No more pasta
I was tired of eating pasta every day because I couldn’t afford anything else.
At the end of my hustle month and with only dollars to spare, I landed a freelance PR and Social Media Manager job for a startup which continued for 18 months and two content creation and PR, social media jobs.
In thirty days, I’d kickstarted my freelance career through hard work, hustle and research, stubborn determination, and a kick-ass confident California spirit.
How to be the boss
The recession taught me how to create my own business in the industry I wanted to work in. By creating the work myself, I became fearless and I became THE BOSS.
Author: Ginger Liu. MFA. is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. She is the founder of Ginger Media & Entertainment and The Creative Entrepreneur.