Free fallin’

Freelance, noun: 1 a person who earns their living in such a way, 2 historical (often free lance) a medieval mercenary.

My name is Risto Pakarinen, and I’m a freelance journalist. A mid-evil mercenary. Judging from all the emails I get every day, many of you dream of being freelancers, too. “How did you get your very own blog?” people ask me. Well, let me tell you.

First of all, let me just describe the situation right now, as I type this. As usual, by this time of day – it’s about two thirty in the afternoon – I’m sitting at a window table in a cafe in downtown Stockholm, listening to music, sipping my cappuccino, and enjoying the sunshine. I got up at nine, checked my email while eating breakfast. Then, after the Oprah-rerun, I had lunch. After that I showered and got changed, took my laptop and headed downtown.

So, to say that hard work is the key would be smart.

But I don’t want to lie to you because I know that you cherish these words as The Truth.

Remember this then: invest in a good pair of sweat pants. You’ll be wearing them a lot.

I can’t stress enough the importance of looking and acting busy, though. Andre Agassi knew it: “Image is everything.” Look busy, sound stressed, and you’ll certainly not appear desperate. Nobody wants to give assignments to desperate freelancers. The more you say “no,” the more they will want you to write their pieces.

I’ve been saying “no” to, for example, the New Yorker and Rolling Stone for a few years, and I’m sure they’re about ready to be pulled in now. It’s all a part of the price negotiations. After all, I am a freelancer, a mercenary.

When people ask you about your projects, always remember to mention the book you’re working on. That gives you credibility.

Nap as much as you can. That keeps you creative.

Network. There are a bunch of “discussion forums” on the “Internet” that you can use. On some of them you can even create a cool “avatar.” Those are fun.

Finally, be nice to people. Just because you’ve made it, doesn’t mean you’re better than anybody else. Maybe you just got lucky? HAHAHAHA. Right. Anyway, be nice. It’s good.

Of course, those invoices don’t write themselves so some weeks are like this. And you don’t know the half of it.

That’s the secret.

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