Freelancing with the Mac

by Dave on August 10, 2009

macdesktopIn less than 2 months, I will celebrate 1 year of freelancing with the Mac. It’s been the most educational year of my life. I learned about CSS and PHP, taxes and marketing, faith, patience and the power of being positive. I’ve also seen why the freelancing lifestyle is a cyclical return to the past, and how the Mac is the ultimate freelancer’s tool.

Take a moment and come with the to that little house on the prairie. Yes, I’m talking about Ma, Pa and Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Pa wasn’t saving the day (and making modern-day fathers like me feel inadequate), he was making furniture. It wasn’t Pa’s job to make furniture — there was no time clock to punch or office to occupy for 8 hours a day — it was his work. If you needed a chest-of-drawers, you went to see Pa. Got the flu? Call Doc Baker. Need some pestering done on your behalf? That Nellie Olson is always available. None of them had jobs, but they all created work.

The industrial revolution changed all of that. Instead of laboring at his little house, Pa would have found himself in a factory with a clipboard and a typewriter. He would have worked for the same company in the same physical location for the rest of his entire physical life (this is a metaphorical Pa, of course. Even with this awesome Dad Powers, he couldn’t have lived that long). At that point, Pa would have had a job.

That was the process for decades. Go to the office, perform your job and then go home. Now it’s 2009 and the model that my father adhered to — work for the same company for 35 years, get a gold watch and retire — is dead. Technological advances, automation and overseas outsourcing have eliminated the majority of those production jobs. Freelances like me don’t have jobs, we create work. Just like Pa.

In fact, if you look up the word “job” you notice that many of its meanings — a task, something to be done, an assignment — apply to work both as it existed in the Pre-Industrial Age and will exist in the future. Yet the world is still most often used in the sense that it took on during the Industrial Age — a permanent, full-time position with a single employer. For that reason, I suggest swapping “job” with “work.”

“Job” bears roughly the same relation to “work” that “orange” does to “fruit.” If you go to the store with your heart set on oranges and a bad winter has caused a shortage, you’ll end up disappointed. If you go looking for fruit instead, you’re likely to find a variety of ways to satisfy your taste and appetite.

When a worker has a job, s/he knows exactly what must be done in order to secure a paycheck. The chance that she will do anything beyond what’s required is slim. And why should she? She’s paid do perform her job as described and that’s all she’ll do.

Now, if she doesn’t have a job but is creating work, her choices increase tremendously. She knows her skills and what employers want. She’s free and motivated — heck, required — to move beyond what’s expected and consider what would benefit an employer; what would benefit her; what artful and beneficial way she can apply her skills to solve a problem (fruit, anyone?).

I’m happily creating work and thrilled to be doing it with a Mac which, incidentally, has undergone a transformation of its own.

Years ago, Apple’s slogan was “Think Different.” From the Crazy Ones ad to the Jolly Roger at Cupertino, Apple set their machines apart. No, they don’t operate like every other personal computer and that was the point. Many of us loved the branding. Many more did not. Then something happened while Windows conquered the business world.

Apple offered a free and painless way to run Windows on any new Mac. Suddenly, those machines went from being “different” to being “special.” Yes, they can run that mission-critical, Windows-only software, plus all this other cool stuff. In short, there’s nothing this machine can’t do. It’s the sharpest tool in my kit.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to write all about freelancing with the Mac. I’ll cover everything that’s been a part of my experience. I hope you’ll read along and get something out of it.

2 comments

Sweet. Should be interesting.

by Nik on August 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm. #

Dave,

I’m looking forward to the rest of the posts in your freelancing series. Your thoughtful and articulate voice is too rare in the geek-o-sphere and I for one am glad that you haven’t followed through with your threat to stop writing. :)

by MisterD on August 11, 2009 at 8:38 am. #

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