What I Learned from Being a Dog Walker
Sometimes as a one-woman-shop, you need to make sacrifices in order to pay your electric bill. Since losing one source of super steady income, I’ve had to curb my spending (no more steak dinners or Kate Spade handbags for me!) and take on an additional source of income, which entails walking dogs outside for hours on end in 20-degree weather.
While I’m fond of some aspects of the job (who can resist playing with puppies all day and getting daily cardio?) some other characteristics have been hard to handle, yet have given me some good lessons when it comes to running a biz, dealing with people, and just trying to be a grown-up.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned from the dogs.
You Gotta be Flexible
As a dog walker, my schedule will change at a moment’s notice. Clients will cancel, pups will get sick, and Mother Nature doesn’t stop for anybody. Being flexible and able to roll with the punches is a good lesson for any solopreneur. Meeting times change, clients will come and go, but you just got to keep fighting the good fight.
Find Middle Ground
Dogs aren’t humans. They’re dogs, and a dog will do what a dog wants to do. If a dog wants to eat garbage or roll in shit, he will eat garbage and roll in shit. No amount of screaming, crying, or compromising will make him change his mind – unless it’s a delectable dog treat.
The same goes for clients. Now, I’m not saying clients eat crap, but some are VERY set in their ways. They want what they want when they want it. Sometimes, this can be difficult for a freelance writer, especially if you think there’s a better way to do the work. This is the time to find a happy medium with the client. Listen to what they want, but offer your professional and experienced opinion on ways you think will make the copy better. Even if they don’t listen to you, don’t fear. Do the work to the best of your ability and do it their way. They’re the ones paying your bills.
Whether you’re writing content for a super boring industry or picking up dog poo in freezing, icy conditions, there is enjoyment to be had. Yes, work is work and work is supposed to be boring. But losing your sense of fun is a sin. Dogs can have fun anywhere – a fenced in yard, stuck in a car in traffic, or even a cubicle. Give them a bone and a bed and they’re good to go. Yeah, you might be doing repetitive, unstimulating work, but find the fun and creativity within that work.
I feel like I’m talking a lot about poop in this post, so please excuse me. But the fact of the matter is, everyone takes a dump. This basic fact is a constant reminder that everyone is human. That editor you’ve been scared to pitch to? Human! That client who sent you 443211344 changes at 5pm on a Friday? Human.
Don’t get too scared or angry at current or potential clients. We’re all trying the best that we can. We all mess up. We all poop.