Game of Thrones, the wildly popular HBO adaptation of the amazing book series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, includes a lesson or two for freelance writers. Actually, other entrepreneurial bootstrappers could learn something from it as well.
Whether you’ve read the books or become utterly obsessed with the series as I have, these quotes will serve to illustrate the point of my ranting:
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” ~Eddard (Ned) Stark, Lord of Winterfell
Freelance writers should do the job, finish the project, and run the extra mile themselves. Does this mean you don’t want to outsource? Certainly not, although for Ned Stark it means just that. For you, it means you must take personal responsibility for each job you take on as a freelancer.
When your hireling submits his assigned work to you, you must thoroughly and judiciously proofread and edit it before sending it along to the client. This work represents you, your brand, your reputation. Protect it. Put your own sword into the words you send your client.
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” ~Cersei Lannister, Queen of Westeros and wife of King Robert Baratheon
Freelance writers play their own version of the game of thrones and, in some ways, the game we play is just as fierce and it’s oft just as deadly. Play it right, or your business will die at the blade of a better freelancer’s sword.
If you leave the corporate world to freelance full time, you need to go at it full bore. Go at it to win the undying love of your subjects (clients). Execute your duties with the utmost responsibility, integrity, mercy, and justice.
Work your business with all your heart and soul, employing best practice techniques (i.e. integrity) and that certain je ne sais quoi that sets you apart from the turncloaks and the Greyjoys of the freelance world.
Have mercy on clients when they seem too needy or when they need a few extra days to pay – to a point. Here comes the justice part: use your sword to cut loose those clients who abuse your mercy and goodness – always taking, always needing, always wanting it for free.
In other words, do not emulate the beautiful, but evil Queen Cersei.
“I don’t know.” ~Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen
Swallow that pill called pride. Lift your head and say, “I don’t know,” when you truly don’t. Do not try to fake it. Faking it ‘til you make it is for other occasions – not for business and making money. Don’t stop at those three words, though. Find out the answer to the thing, concept, or problem. Your current clients, team, and potential clients will respect your frank honesty and the swift authority by which you seek a solution or answer.
And never forget – Winter is coming. Prepare.
Do you watch the Game of Thrones, or have you read the A Song of Fire and Ice series? What have you learned?