This is Pukey the Cat (aka Max). Like Garfield, he doesn’t leave the
cul de sac so I’ve spent a lot of time with him in my new freelancing life. So far, he hasn’t inspired me to draw a world famous cartoon strip but he has taught me a few things about freelancing and working from home.
Warning – adorkable cat pics follow!
Every day, Pukey the cat plays with a little squeaky mouse. He pounces on it, gets it in his teeth, rolls it around with his front paws. He does this every.single.day. Does my cat think it’s a real mouse or is he sharpening his claws for that unexpected moment when a real mouse darkens his path outside and he’s ready to pounce with all his might?
Lesson learned: Freelancing is your business, keep at it! You never know when that pile of prospecting emails will pay off; when your constant networking will start to work. Keep up a great level of customer service with everyone you encounter and be prepared for that unexpected phonecall.
A sidenote: honing those hunting skills is paying off for Pukey if the ‘presents’ of dead birds are anything to go by.
I know cats sleep a lot but I think Pukey’s going for the world record! Not while his male owner is home, nope, he’s the keeper of the kitty treats and therefore much more entertaining. I’m the one who gets to listen to those snores, snuffles and kitty dreams all day. Sleeping is Pukey’s job and he is very good at it.
Lesson learned: get enough sleep and look after your health. Starting your own business can quickly eat away at your life. Remember that vision when you started? Was a better work/life balance in there? No matter what your working pattern is, enough sleep is essential so you can keep going. Put that laptop down and get a nap! While you’re at it, remove anything even vaguely work-like from your bedroom including your phone. Use a real alarm clock, not the one on your phone. You’re less likely to check your email/go on the net/worry if your phone’s in another room and out of sight.
Also, take a tip from Pukey – hydrate!
Rise above the politics
My cat sits outside, high on a gate post, watching over our street. His day might consist of a bit of scratching but most of it will be saying hello to his kitty neighbours and staring disdainfully at dogs being walked. He doesn’t fight with dogs, he considers himself a step above them. He know which cats are friendly and which cats to avoid. He doesn’t get involved in other cats fighting and only gets into fights when necessary. All barking dogs are studiously ignored.
Lesson learned: Having clients means keeping a respectful distance from any office politics – try not to get involved in in-fighting, you’ll only lessen your own reputation by doing so.
Reach for the impossible
Pukey thinks it’s entirely possible that one day that gigantic seagull will land within his reach and he’ll catch him. He may be kidding himself but at least he’s daring to dream.
Lesson learned: ask for that slightly higher rate; go for that project that you think is beyond your abilities. What’s the worst that could happen? You get a big fat no. So what? There might be another seagull hovering overhead.
Stretch your abilities
A lot of us start off as freelancers calling ourselves one thing
“I’m a graphic designer”
“I’m a copywriter”
only to find that one single job title doesn’t fit. Freelancing gives us the ability to stretch ourselves beyond that job title. What other skills do you have that you can make use of in your business?
I started freelancing as a copywriter but quickly realised that I was ignoring a wealth of experience in strategy and planning, so I’m now stretching myself to create marketing strategy workshops which will help clients develop their marketing plans with a
no-nonsense approach. I’ve also started to write news pieces and proposals for magazine articles, again I’m stretching myself and gaining experience as a writer beyond copywriting.
What’s your pet taught you?
I’m sure Pukey will continue to teach me more life lessons as we continue on this freelancing journey together. One inadvertent lesson has been to get away from my home office and go talk to people! If you think the cat’s talking back to you, go and meet a friend for coffee. The cat won’t mind, he’ll be too busy sleeping!
Is your pet an essential part of your freelancing business or an unpaid guru of life lessons? Let me know.