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Portrait of a Freelancer: Alex Casabon

<p><strong>Portrait of a freelancer - </strong>Meet inspiring people who chose to make a living out of independent work. Through a very human perspective, discover their story, and the uniqueness of their lifestyle &amp; challenges.</p> <p><img alt="alex-casabon" class="aligncenter size-full" src="https://blogmanagement.momenteo.com/Content/blog-img/alex-casabon-300x300.png" /> </p> <p><strong>Who are you?</strong><br> I’m&nbsp;Alex, 32 years old, currently living in Sainte-Rose, close to Montreal (a very good compromise&nbsp;between the proximity to nature and the city life). I have been gravitating around Montreal ever since I started university. Life led me to graduate as an electrical engineer, even though I started as a physics engineer. I’ve always liked to create, unbuild, rebuild all kinds of things: magnetic levitating train, rail gun, camps in the wood, computers, softwares, etc.</p> <p>I also have two non-scientific passions: films and photography.</p> <p><strong>How did you get into freelancing?</strong><br> I was never good at following a path. My mind keeps roaming between my multiple passions – I might always drop my current lifestyle&nbsp;to jump on this new thing I just learned about. It’s as good and as bad as it sounds, but taking risks is what drives me.</p> <p>Freelancing&nbsp;just happened. While studying, I made a living with filming jobs. A company once called me to ask if I could do a livestream, I took the job&nbsp;without actually knowing if I could really do it&nbsp;(it was a couple of years ago!)</p> <p>Then after my graduation, an engineer position was waiting for me at&nbsp;Bombardier. Something about it bugged me. I developed some marketable skills doing video projects, and I just felt like trying to make a real living out of it. My engineering degree was a safety net, it was pretty much risk-free. In hindsight,&nbsp;I am pretty sure I took the right decision. My company name is Obvious C. and we do livestreams/video production/technical creations. I love it!</p> <p><strong>What is the hardest part about freelancing?</strong><br> Pretty much everything is hard when you work for yourself. There’s this misconception about the freedom that comes with running your own micro-company.</p> <blockquote><p>“Wow you have your company, you can do whatever you want!”</p></blockquote> <p>Not quite.</p> <p>It is a lot more complicated than you might expect at the beginning. You are always thinking of something, no matter the time/day of the week. It is as exciting as it is and anxiety-provoking.</p> <p>Also, I hate anything related to paperwork. I pretty much have a Burj Khalifa height pile of paper to treat, some clients are still very conservative. It’s 2016, please.</p> <p>I am also abysmal at handling my accounting, just&nbsp;ask my sister/financial planner. I have been trying to&nbsp;stay organized by crafting complex excel sheets but&nbsp;in the end it’s just not for me.&nbsp;Online tools are the future! *wink wink*</p> <p><strong>Tell us about your daily routine.</strong><br> I don’t have a routine, that is the beauty of starting a micro-company. Everyday is a unpredictable.&nbsp;Still, there is the recurring stuff: I wake up, check my emails, drive to work, check the new emails, play chess/darts/nerf guns, do whatever there is to do, come back home and do whatever there is to do&nbsp;again. Disconnecting is one of my hardest challenge. I often get comments from my girlfriend and family.</p> <blockquote><p>“Are you here with me?” -The girlfriend</p></blockquote> <p>Extreme sports work wonderfully when it comes to breaking the work mindset.</p> <p><strong>Do you have any freelancing horror story?</strong><br> I don’t have a story that I can qualify as horrific.</p> <p>But here is a short story that still gets&nbsp;me mad. You don’t always deal directly with clients, you sometimes have to work through intermediary contacts. I got a job that required me to complete small parts&nbsp;of a bigger project. The company completely ignored my requests&nbsp;and failed to provide crucial equipment. It should have been very simple for that company. I did my best to find solutions and complete my contract. In the end, it doesn’t matter which person’s fault it is, you just want your client to have the best product for what he paid. I managed to make it work, but after the fixed deadline. The next year, I didn’t get the job. I got echoes that I wasn’t able to deliver on the previous mandate.&nbsp;Of course the big company told the client it was my fault, it is the easy thing to do isn’t it. Keep track of everything, written traces help a lot when it comes to managing conflicts.</p> <p><strong>Where do you habitually work from?</strong><br> 4035 rue Saint-Ambroise, loft 418N, Montreal.</p> <p>Come and say hello (we even have a swinging ski resort chair!)</p> <p>We worked really hard to build a space that is inspiring, fun, clean and creative. I share it&nbsp;with a bunch of other freelancers, it is a good way to overcome the loneliness.</p> <p><strong>How many projects do you handle concurrently?</strong><br> It really depends on the time of year. My schedule is highly variable,&nbsp;it ranges from&nbsp;a&nbsp;normal 40h/week to an extreme&nbsp;80h/week. My network is now big enough to get a constant stream of contracts, meaning I get a lot of time to do what I love. I habitually have a few big projects running at the same time.</p> <p><strong>What is your favorite aspect of the freelancing life?</strong><br> There are so many things. If I had to pick, I’d say the flexibility and the diversity of projects. The more complex it is, the more it gets you&nbsp;out of your comfort zone, the more you learn. My university degree really helped me develop the proper mindset. Freedom is nice, but if you don’t work, you won’t get really far. The good side, is that you get to chose your projects and do what motivates you the most.</p> <p><strong>What are the online tools that you couldn’t live without?</strong><br> Pretty much everything that is cloud-based and allows easy collaboration. Online tools are the future. Everything is so much more simpler when it is not restrained by location.</p> <p><strong>How did you get your first client?</strong><br> It was my ex girlfriend’s father company. Family business development!</p> <p><strong>Can you show us a bit of what you do?</strong><br> My portfolio is getting pretty decent! I even took the time to do a demo reel this year&nbsp;(Actually, my friend Gabriel Babin edited it.).<br> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/149900438" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/149900438">OBVIOUS C – 2015 REEL</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/obviousc">ObviousC</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p> <p>Then there’s my website that needs&nbsp;a bit of love:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.obviousc.com">www.obviousc.com</a></p> <p><strong>Last thing, what would you recommend to aspiring freelancers?</strong><br> Work hard. The day you decide to work for yourself,&nbsp;you’ll probably realize how much complexity there is in managing your own micro-business. Your first thought will probably be “There is so much to do, yet&nbsp;I don’t really have something to do”. If you wait for jobs/contracts to magically appear, you’ll find it really hard. You need to be proactive and invest a lot of energy into structuring your life, which will allow you to do what you love in the long run. Start by making a list of goals (ex : have a website, find the first client, get better in your field of work, learn new things, etc.) and try to meet a lot of people, networking is actually the key to smooth business development.</p> <p>Happy billing!</p>

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Philip Barclay CMO@Momenteo