What Is Your Project?

Being a solopreneur can be a dance where you seek that which you do well and quickly while steering away from that which slows you down. This process can be confusing, though, because when you want business, any shiny client object can look like your next chance for income.

For example, my copywriting services could be summed up in this way: “Tell me what you want, and I will do it. But I’m not the one to ask, ‘What do I want?’” I have a project-based set up. Clients have a need, they tell me what that need is, and I do the work that fills the need.

If a client doesn’t know what he or she needs, in theory, I could help with that. I have experience. I have ideas. I could draw from that experience and those ideas to help someone create a marketing plan. But that’s a different process from what I ordinarily do, and I would be departing from my mission in a way that is frustrating to me and ineffective for the client.

I recall early in my freelance career, I intended to work with a new client. I thought he would need my services; he thought he would need my services. But we had a different idea of what those services could be. I listened to and was sympathetic to his concerns. But when I walked away, I was confused. I asked myself, “What is my project? What am I supposed to do?”

He may have needed a writer at some point, but what he needed at that moment was a marketing consultant. At the time, I didn’t have enough steady work to want anyone to slip through my fingers, no matter how ill-fitting the client could be, and I kept trying to figure out my project.

Age and experience teach another lesson. When the signs show that something isn’t going to work out, it’s OK to say, “This isn’t my area.” You are, after all, not letting go of opportunity; you’re letting go of something that isn’t going to work out.

Minnie Lamberth is a marketing copywriter and author of Story Shaping, a creative encouragement platform.