Rarely do things happen overnight, and in the world of contract work, it can be hard to see how your efforts today will pay off ninety days later.
There is of course, the financial compensation. But it can be so discouraging to work from paycheck to paycheck, which is why you probably became a freelancer in the first place. Contract work gives you great control over your time, which it’s easier to pursue long–term prospects. The problem is that anything great takes time to develop.
So how do you keep motivated? What can inspire you to sacrifice short–term gains for enduring long–term benefits? You already know about the 10/20/30 rule of presenting, and the 70/20/10 business model. Now here’s another number–centric formula that will help you stay the course.
Introducing the 90-Day Rule of Results, as written by Patti Brotherton :
Whatever you are doing right now, today, will affect your business in 90 days.
If for example you plan to make a name for yourself as a white paper writer, you have to be prepared to work without reward for a bit. That’s because when you start out as a freelancer, paying projects will be slow to come at first. It’s up to you to break the chicken–and–egg problem: how will clients pay you their limited funds to write white papers, when they don’t even know that you’re good at writing them?
In this case, I’d suggest writing some technical articles for free, and start highlighting them to potential clients. In a more general sense, this means building a portfolio to show prospects what you can do (a blog is a good way to do this). And while you do this, you’re probably not earning, which can be quite a bummer. It’s very easy to lose motivation while giving your very best without any obvious prize.
You can counter this despair by keeping the 90-Day Rule in mind. That’s because it helps make it clear that while your initial efforts amount to basically nothing, the end result will make it more than worth your while.
Of course, you have to make sure your plan is sound. Writing about photography when you have no experience taking pictures will get you nowhere. The point is that you should come up with a workable roadmap, and stay the course no matter how far away the eventual returns seem. The 90–Day Rule will help you do this.