Five freelancing tips I’ve learned from my dog

Lifestyle & Time out, Resources

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can take business lessons from just about any aspect of your life. Whatever you do, wherever you are, just look around you and there are bound to be tips to be picked up, often from the strangest places.

Hell, a lot of freelancers (myself included) are so terrible at the ‘business’ bit of running a business that they could probably learn a lesson of two from a lamppost. This week my wife has decided to abandon me for warmer climes (who can blame her, really?), so my dog Spud has been the focus of my attention. He’s a curious fellow; a total idiot to casual observers, but in reality a shrewd creature who knows what he wants, and how to get it.

So what lessons can we learn from this cantankerous canine?

Look after what’s yours

Online – where I do the vast majority of my work – content is currency (unless you’re dealing with, you know, actual currency), and you can’t afford to be ripped off. Thankfully Google has squashed most sites that scrape and reproduce articles, however there are still some nefarious ‘aggregators’ out there with designs on your content. Services like Copyscape can help protect your loving-crafted output, to make sure nobody’s making money from your hard work.

Here is Spud demonstrating the vigour with which you should defend your content – notice the bared teeth.


Spud gallantly defends an oversized bone

The hard jobs are the most rewarding

You may have noticed Spud is a small fellow in stature. Don’t let those tiny legs fool you though – he’s got grit and determination by the bucketload. Where lesser dogs (or cats, for that matter) would give up, Spud knuckles down and powers through. Case in point: on a recent walk over Devil’s Dyke, he climbed up and down hills for almost 6 miles while other dogs, children and fellow ramblers fell by the wayside.

When we got back to the pub Spud sat with a look of triumph on his face, revelling in a job well done. You should take a similar approach to your freelancing. Don’t be put off by seemingly insurmountable jobs – delivering them on time is a feeling like no other.

Some things are worth getting excited about

It’s a fact of freelancing life that some work is just more exciting than other work. I used to think I had to keep my ‘serious businessman’ face on at all times, but I realised a few years ago it’s absolutely fine to get excited about cool work, and to let your clients know that you’re excited to be working for them. Spud’s favourite client, as you may expect, is the postman. Here he is excitedly waiting to ‘issue his invoice‘…

Where are you, postman?Rest is just as important as hard work

There’s nothing Spud likes more than kicking back on his doggie bed and watching horses on TV in the evening (he has this weird thing about horses – maybe he thinks they’re his people?) – and I think all freelancers could learn a thing or two from that. Letting your work and personal lives intermingle is never a good idea.

Find a solution that works for you and stick to it. This could be having a cut-off point in the evening when all work stops, or making sure you have a “proper” weekend. Whatever it is, make sure you get enough doggie-bed-and-horses time (as I’m calling it from now on). The time you spend working will be that much more productive for it.

"Why do those big dogs have people riding on their backs?!"

“Why do those big dogs have people riding on their backs?!”

Sometimes you have to ask

Often it’s all too easy to coast along with a couple of cushy clients, hoping some more work will fall into your lap. This “hands off” approach to business development can sometimes work, but you will see far greater (and more lucrative) rewards if you go out searching for that killer contract, instead of waiting for it to come to you.

The best way to do this, in my experience, is just to ask around. Put a notice on LinkedIn that you’re on the hunt, or shoot a few of your contacts an email asking if they’re in the market for some of your services.

Case in point: most evenings I’d never think to give Spud any of my dinner, but when you look down to be met by this, well, it’s hard to say no.

A sad, hungry dog

“Are you going to eat all of that?”


Image by Ted Fu

  • Sarah Jones

    Nice feel good doggy tips. I wonder what cats could teach us about freelancing…?

    • Jon_Norris

      Cats would make terrible freelancers. “Ignore everyone, sleep all day.”

      (I’m a bit of a dog person if you couldn’t tell!)

  • Greg – Strat-Talking

    Nice post, I am a cat person but can totally relate to this. Especially the ‘hard work being worth the reward’ part. I frequently work from home and my two cats teach me that there is always room in the day to take a break and have a bit of a play and cuddle with them. No matter how close the deadline, it always makes you feel good and happier once you get back into your working rhythm again.

    Also, it seems to taste much better when you’ve hunted it yourself. For them its mice, for me its new biz!


  • Daniela Helguera

    Great one! I’m a freelancer and a dog lover, officially a fan of this lil’ guru now!

  • Daria Ples

    Spud is officialy new top freelance coach, as he’s spot on.

  • Facebook User

    Top fellah. Wonderfully determined by the look of him! Should do very well.

  • Penny Reeve

    Awwww, Spud. What a guy (dog).

  • Brent White

    Never new we could learn so much from our dog. I guess that’s why he’s called Mans Best Friend.
    Brent White
    Online Marketing Gigs