This past month I celebrated my 15 year work anniversary – normally, if I would worked at a company this long I’d receive a plaque or a watch or some other type of accolade for the dedication to the service. I, on the other hand, as my own boss, treated myself – and I’m proud of that!
There have been a lot of ups and downs in my freelancing career; as any good career path should have. Be while it was freelancing part-time while holding a day job or full-time freelancing – I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing clients and on some fantastic, innovative projects, but I’ve also “kissed a few frogs”, as they say and learned lessons the hard way. So to share my celebration for proudly being an independent freelance worker for 15 years – I will impart some of my wisdom learned – so maybe it can help you achieve your successes a little bit easier.
Remember — Success is Perseverance Getting Creative!
15 Tips I’ve Learned from 15 Years as an Independent Freelance Worker
1. Be confident in your skills and talents.
You are and will most likely be your only supporter when you start working with clients. Have your own back and be confident in what you are able to accomplish.
2. Learn how to break up with a client respectfully.
As I mentioned you will have to “kiss a few frogs”, and you will run into the slick client trying to get more than they should out of less – it’s just the nature of the game. Know what you are willing to accept and what you are not – and learn that it is OK to break up with a client! Trust me, if you keep at it, there will be more.
3. Have FUN with what you do!
This is after all YOUR choice. It may not have been something you chose to start because of a life event – but it is what you are choosing to do now. So make it fun for you, make it challenging and interesting. Otherwise you will end up hating this job as much as you’re last.
4. Speak your mind
You are hired for your skills and talents – don’t be afraid to speak up and say what you think is best (even to “the big guy”) – remember most of the time you are the expert that they have hired. Show them you know what you are talking about.
5. Realize not everyone knows what you know
Trust me this is a good thing, it’s why you are able to do what you do. Embrace this fact; help educate your clients and you will see an amazing return in loyalty and repeat clients.
6. Find your backup crew
Whether or not you decide to go it alone – you should never really go it alone. Ever.Find a group of people, or even just one person, that you trust.
7. Respect your craft
Whether you are a consultant, designer, writer, or personal assistant – respect your chosen craft…. or get out.
8. ALWAYS have a contract
It sounds a little ridiculous – but you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you didn’t have a contract and it came back to bite you.
9. Take time for training and updating your craft
This is really important when you work for yourself. If you don’t take the time to learn the latest in your trade or craft or skills then why would someone come to you as an expert? You should always work on improving yourself – even if it’s only a couple hours a month.
10. Take a BREAK – or you will burn out faster than a sparkler
You may find yourself moving in “production mode” at one or more points in your freelancing career. Every once in a while that may be OK – but don’t make a habit of it. Burnout can be a serious matter for your health – both personally and professionally. Take frequent breaks, don’t work all day, all night and on the weekends — your mind needs a break.
11. Thank your clients
Without whom you may not have a job. Clients are what can make you or break you. When you work with someone fantastic – be sure you share the love after a project.
12. Get social
Building a network of amazing clients and your back-up crew can only begin by getting social. Whether you decide you’re more of Social Media connector or you’d rather network in person – you need to do it. Get social and spread the word about your business, skills and what you are doing to make the world a little easier for your clientele.
13. Connect with the locals
A common benefit of freelancing is that you can work with anyone from anywhere – but it’s equally important to connect with your local community. Building up that local network can also help build up the buzz – remember word of mouth is the best advertising – no matter the location.
14. Write down every single “stupid” idea… it may blossom into something amazing later on.
Somewhat self-explanatory – however, sometimes this can fall to the sidelines. Keep all those journals, moleskines, and other notebooks. You never know when one of those ideas or thoughts could come in handy; especially in a dry spell.
15. BLOG. Just do it. It WILL pay off.
Blogging is such a fantastic way to show your expertise and build credibility with your target audience. Get your name out there and write something relevant and you will build a great visitor trail as long as you can remain consistent. Remember – you never know where your next client will find you.