The Truth About Freelancing

The Truth About Freelancing

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

And how to make money doing it!

The world of freelancing is swirling with myths and straight-up lies in between all of the great people and advice within the writing community.

It can also be confusing and can feel like every freelancer has specific rules they say are the only way to make money.

Sometimes it feels like no one makes money AS a freelancer, they are just selling their books and courses trying to teach others how to be a successful freelancer!

I’ve seen people upset about the lack of strong resources or how much tools can cost, and I’ve seen people put off starting to work simply because they felt overwhelmed with information.

Here are the truths I have discovered on my journey in writing and entrepreneurship:

  • You should not spend ANY money when you’re first starting. You can start a service-based (like writing) business for free.
  • You don’t need to know everything when you start. You can research and figure things out as you go along.
  • Even when you’re first looking for clients and feel so inexperienced, don’t ever work for free. Here’s how not to and why you shouldn’t.
  • Market yourself, especially using social media. Social media is free and, as a small business owner or freelancer, completely necessary. Here’s how I utilize social media.
  • Make sure to always be creating and maintaining your pipeline of future clients to fight the natural ebb and flow of sales and freelancing.
  • Figure out what you need to be making and use that for your pricing. Then stick to it. Pricing and sticking to it is so important as a freelancer. Clients want work for free, so never let them dictate what you’re worth.
  • Focus on your main objective or idea when starting your business. There is such a thing as too many ideas.
  • Network constantly. Whenever I go anywhere, I have my cards in my bag. When I meet new people, I give them my card, explain I’m a writer and let them know I’d be happy to discuss any writing or editing needs they have. Here are some tips on how to network successfully.
  • Even when you’re first starting, you’re allowed to say “no” to work! So many freelancers feel they need to take on anyone who comes to them, to gain experience, build a portfolio, whatever. You do NOT. Saying “no” to some work has made me more successful and profitable.
  • Make sure you deeply understand blogging and article writing. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned on my journey as a blogger!
  • Learn from others who have come before you – but remember that your journey will be your own, so take things with a grain of salt – even my advice!
  • When working from home (or for yourself), staying organized and not procrastinating is the only way you can succeed.
  • Freelancing can be lonely. Make sure to maintain friendships and hobbies outside the home to keep your sanity!
  • Have a contract in place. This is super important. Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Both of you should sign this and a deposit paid before ANY work is done. There are many free contract templates available online and you’re welcome to use mine.
  • Keep an eye on the future. How will your business evolve and change? Think about what you enjoy doing most as you gain clients and learn new skills and see how you can incorporate more of it or move to different pricing models. Evolution is an important part of building and growing a business.

This is real information from a freelancer who has been where you are. You do not need to pay for any expensive courses or anything to get started. Just find one person willing to pay you fairly for your work and BAM! You’re a paid freelancer.

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Networking: Standing Out in a Crowd!

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Photo Credit: http://www.business2community.com/strategy/order-work-need-network-01640509#211hApMQjqjMpTYO.97

Depending on who you ask, networking is either relatively enjoyable or a necessary evil to suffer through.

If you were to ask me, I’d be able to regale you with anecdotes from hundreds of career fairs, association meetings, networking meetups, and client visits. I genuinely enjoy the face-to-face connection you get in a networking  situation. You get a more casual environment to meet people, discuss business, but also pepper your conversation with real pieces of your personality. It’s not a job interview, so the solemnity tends to be lessened, and people generally feel more comfortable in a group setting.

I know some people who wouldn’t go to a large networking event even if you paid them, and I know others who knew about it before you tell them, and are already registered.

Obviously, our comfort levels in crowds of near-strangers are individual to each of us. I am a salesperson, and people are my specialty. I have no problem walking into a crowd and introducing myself and my company, and enjoying meeting new people every time I turn around. I am marryied to an introvert who finds it stressful to be in crowds of strangers, and tends to not know how to introduce himself to complete strangers. Luckily, we balance each other out!

It’s not only a personality thing, though. Usually at an event, I’m representing my company, so I feel that I’m able to offer value to people and to companies. I am able to bring something to the table, so starting a conversation is even easier! Not that as myself I am not valuable, simply that as a representative of my company, I am bringing a different sort of value to the table.

Here is an example of how networking has been a huge help to me previously. I was tasked with bringing a rebranded company name out to market in NYC when the company rebranded in 2014. Being able to get in front of people who knew me as the former brand, and explain in person our new name and logo, but with the same great services, was the best way for people to associate the new name with our old brand that was so well known. People could associate me with the new name, as they already did with the old one. Giving presentations at networking events allows me to stamp myself and my company into people’s brains.

A great networker is someone who is remembered. They are not the funniest or best looking person in the room, or the one who spoke the loudest. It is the person who had great conversations with people, who was credible and knowledgeable without being pushy or a know-it-all. It’s someone who focused their undivided attention on the person they were speaking with, and not allowing passersby to distract them. A great networker expands their network by mingling with new people and introducing themselves to newcomers, and being a genuine, friendly source of information.

Bringing value to your events is so important. If you are looking for a job, the way you should think of this is “what do I bring to the table?” This is a view of what YOU can do for a company or service, and don’t even begin to focus on what they can do for you. You are not owed anything by companies, but you may be bringing fresh perspectives, specialized experience, or a tech-savvy eagerness to learn to them, all of which are invaluable to companies.

Expanding your network is vital to branding yourself (or your company) in your chosen industry or market. You can really learn and gain a lot from meeting pillars of your field, or perhaps you are one and you have a lot of knowledge you could be teaching others. Everyone has value to bring to every conversation. Mingling with other experts is a great way to learn new things, meet potential clients, and more.

As a salesperson, when you are marketing anything: yourself, your employer, a client, you are a subject-matter expert putting yourself in a position to expand your network. Hand out business cards, and get them from people you meet. Connect with them on LinkedIn and check in occasionally. Networking is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only one!

Have you ever had an amazing or amazingly bad networking experience? What has expanding your network done for you, personally and professionally?

This article originally was posted on LinkedIn on 3/11/2015  by me (original content). It has been edited a bit for relevance.

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