07 April, 2011

Ask Al: Secrets of the Self-Employed Part 1

Inspired in part by a list made by illustrator and author Keri Smith, here are the secrets of the self-employed in three parts... because basically everything worth reading is a trilogy. 

1. First, and most crucially: There are no actual rules for how to become a successful [*insert profession here*]. 

You are the trailblazer. You are the South Pole explorer. You are the Conquistador. The Amerigo Vespucci. You are the Lewis & Clark of your path! So blaze that trail. Make your own path. Take heart. Have courage. 

2. Take risks on a regular basis. 

Whether they be small (“today I am going to wear a brighter color and just see what happens”), medium (“today I am going to inch outside my comfort zone by writing to that [insert inspirational artist person here] I've always been meaning to contact") or large ("that thing? that HUGE eff-ing thing I don't wanna face or confront...? Today is the day I confront it..."), take that risk because as I've said before, fortune favors the brave my friends. 

3. The whole point of being “self- employed” is that you are always working for yourself, even when you technically may work for others. 

Okay. Okay, so sometimes it can feel like you are just the hired hand. And okay, admittedly, some people can be really challenging to work with. That is going to happen. But it is important to keep a professional, positive outlook, and to maintain your self-value and self-respect even when the going gets tough. Plus! There is always some way to turn what feels like “just a job” into, at the worst, a valuable learning experience, and at its best something really exciting. Take every opportunity to experiment with new techniques, use every experience as an opportunity to learn about a new topic. 

4. Don’t worry about the grades/marks you received in school. No one will ever ask what those were when you leave. 

No but seriously.

5. Move your body every day. 

Studies suggest that increased oxygen to the brain is a greater source for creativity than “creative brain exercises”. I have certainly found this to be true for myself (after a walk or a run I always feel clearer, inspired, and “juiced up!”) Plus, aside from the many health reasons for this, moving also helps you to work on ideas subconsciously. Ideas and solutions will come in when you least expect them. 


  1. This is great! It's really encouraging to those (me!) embarking onto the world of "self-employment".

  2. Macleish DayJanuary 04, 2012

    I agree with you and Al...We are our own employers at the end we are all working in the same boat doing the things that we Love...Thanks AL...Miss you tons.



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