A situation I found myself in this week moved me to rant a bit about freelance karma. Every now and again, I find myself in a position to catch up with and sometimes even help people who gave me work in the earliest days of my freelance career. I’m always grateful to those who helped me wobble my way out of the part-time ranks and into the position I’m in now, so whenever I get a chance to do the same for someone else–or to give a helping hand to someone who previously threw me some work–I try to spread the wealth around.
In the early days of a freelance career you may not have the time to help someone else, but I think it’s very important to keep your earliest contacts close. Cultivate those relationships and remember who your early benefactors are…you may well discover life coming full circle back to you at some point, whether that’s a chance to help or even a new opportunity from someone who you proved yourself to in the beginning–willing to work with you again because you showed yourself to be a trustworthy resource.
Most of the successes I have now are quite literally due to the people I worked with in the earliest stages. In one case, a former editor helped me land a new, dependable and high-paying gig; in another, one of my earliest clients came back to offer a long-term project with financial implications that pushed my career into another phase altogether. And lest I neglect to give credit where credit is due, Catherine L. Tully is the one who goaded me into writing professionally in the first place–she and I regularly share leads, assignments and take on joint projects…something we’ve been doing since the beginning of my career. None of this would be possible without her prodding me to pull my finger out and get started.
Remember those early clients and editors…they could wind up being your best friends in the business.