"A recent study by Intuit estimated that 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by 2020 -- and I'd argue that even for the 60% who aren't, you'll need to start acting increasingly entrepreneurial in your own career."  --management consultant Dorie Clark, on CBS News MoneyWatch, 4/30/13


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Commentary: Big jumps and baby steps towards becoming an independent artist

Chas Croslin on TCG's Financial Adaptation blog salon, 5/31/13

Recently, I left gainful employment in arts administration to become an independent theatre artist and musician. I am my own case study in progress. You see, I didn't actually plan the whole transition. I am one of those artistically-inclined types who chose a parallel career path in arts administration -- partly because I felt I needed to develop my skills as an artist, but partly because I was also uncertain how to be a freelancer in a world that seemed over-crowded with talented people.  Over the last decade I have amassed skill and experience "on the side" as a musician, performer, and theatre maker. One day, I realized I was putting in full-time hours in both areas. That configuration demonstrated to me that a shift was possible: I was already doing the work. All I had to do was figure out how to shift the income generation from one side to the other. I must give disclaimers. First, my risk was relatively low. I am in my mid-40s, in good health, single, and without children. I do not own a house. I am not suggesting that those with significant others or children or houses cannot make a leap, merely that the risk may be higher. I also do not assume a blanket definition of a "living wage." It is also important to note I have enjoyed an artistic home at El Teatro Campesino for nearly seven years and I would not have been able to embark on the transition to independent artist were it not for the support I have received and continue to receive from [them]. My path became clearer when I identified the idea of failure was, in my case, a myth. There was no failing, only change. I am confident in my "fall back" skills should I need them. My network and potential opportunities appear strong enough to sustain me, at least in the short term. Meanwhile, I will be seeking out case studies of freelancers to share strategies for sustaining themselves in project-based employment scenarios. Anyone else care to take the leap? I can tell you that it is breezy and exciting and only a little scary.


Commentary: Fine line between submissive and aggressive for freelance dancers

Barry Kerollis, Life of a Freelance Dancer blog, 4/22/13

It is quite difficult to work as a freelance dancer because of the submissive nature that is instilled in dancers at an early point in their training. [But freelance] dancers that remain submissive will find they have trouble convincing employers they are the right person for the job. The act of negotiating a contract is also an activity that requires the dancer to act more aggressively. To be honest, I find myself happiest in a studio where I feel that I can remain submissive. Unfortunately, working as a freelance artist, there will be times when one must stand up for [oneself]. When is it appropriate to speak up (an aggressive act) and when is it time to let it slide (a submissive act)? For the most part, you are at the will of whatever the employer asks you to do. If you don't feel safe and you choose to act submissively, you may be jeopardizing your own well-being. But if you respond aggressively, you may be upsetting the management and creating an insubordinate image. Essentially, it takes great judgment on the freelancer's part to decide when it is appropriate to let something slide and when to speak up for oneself. Any dancer should be aware that they are expected to act submissively on most occasions. But as a freelancer, one can't be afraid to have aggressive moments. Keep a close gauge on management's reactions to help maintain a good working relationship. In the end, if conditions are bad enough that you feel the need to play the aggressive card too often, it is likely that you won't be returning to dance for that employer again in the future.


Commentary: Freelancers, you have the right to remain silent (in a negotiation)

Katie Lane, Work Made For Hire blog

When I talk to freelancers and artists about why they're afraid of negotiating I often hear: "What if I don't know what to say? What if they say something outrageous and I don't know what to say and end up blurting out yes?" There are a lot of different ways to potentially deal with not knowing what to say, but one of the most effective is often the least appreciated: don't say anything at all. Silence is a powerful psychological tool in negotiating because silence makes people uncomfortable. When you choose to remain silent in a negotiation, either because you want to think about what's just been said to you or because you aren't sure what you want to say, you temporarily remove yourself from the Impress One Another Olympics of conversation. You signal to the other person that you don't need their approval or interest in that particular moment; you're fine on your own. In a negotiation, each party needs something from the other. The party that appears to need the other the least often has the upper hand in framing the negotiation. The point is: silence can encourage the other person to offer up more information, and maybe even talk themselves into giving you a better deal without you having to do anything at all.

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