- Freelancing in all fields –but mostly creative and editorial spaces– is on the rise, and there’s no end in sight to these increases.
- Because freelancing is an independent endeavor, mistakes are bound to happen.
- Make sure to start your freelance career with the necessity of business skills, knowledge of the marketplace, and strong ambition in mind.
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Freelancing has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is slated to continue this way.
Many freelancers aren’t just self-employed – they are also self-taught. Generally speaking, this applies in the case of creative workers, such as writers, artists, and graphic designers.
It can be a profoundly empowering journey to be a freelance creative worker, but being self-taught naturally leads to many mistakes.
Most of these mistakes are quite preventable. Here are a few mistakes commonly made by freelancers and how to prevent them from happening:
Not understanding business and marketing principles
Freelancing for work has broad appeal. However, 61 percent of freelance workers do so by choice, and 51 percent say they will not return to traditional modes of working.
33 percent of freelancers work in the creative sector, which entails visual arts or music jobs. Likewise, journalism and writing make up 17 percent of freelance workers.
Creative workers and editorial workers seldom have business or marketing skills. For success in freelancing, however, such skills are essential.
“Marketing is the lifeblood of every enterprise –small or large, freelance or traditional business– simply because until a sale happens no other systems you put in place will be used. There will be no invoices generated, no payments to process, and no outside contractors hired.” (The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook by Yuwanda Black)
When jumping into freelancing, the exciting freedom and creativity available to you may cause you to overlook some of the more esoteric components of self-employment. Namely, the fact that, to make a profit, you have to treat freelancing like it is a business.
This may also happen because of the exhilarating feeling accompanied by the prospect of getting paid for one’s craft. But, no matter the case, this prospect will not become a reality without effective business and marketing strategies.
Studies show that a massive factor in succeeding through this strategy is ensuring that you have a functioning website with high-quality products and unambiguous terms that potential clients can agree with.
Likewise, personal branding (creating logos and a unique aesthetic to represent your services) is highly correlated with freelance career success.
There are ways around making this mistake, such as taking online courses to learn business and marketing principles. Likewise, you may decide to outsource these tasks, which works quite well if you have the capital to do so.
Not knowing the freelance marketplace
Conventionally, the marketplace for work consists of online job boards. However, this is only partially the case for freelancers of all sorts.
One can find freelance work on popular job board sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed, but the work that pays best and gives you the most opportunity for work is found elsewhere.
This might consist of directly contacting editors if you are a writer or journalist or reaching out to companies who may need your services in other forms of freelancing.
For writers in particular, a good strategy is to look for deputy editors –which can easily be done through LinkedIn.
The worst thing that can happen when reaching out with a pitch to a potential client is a rejection.
But there are less strenuous methods of entering the marketplace –methods that do not require as much unpaid labor dedicated to acquiring work. Some essential and popular marketplaces for freelancers include:
Each of these platforms is an opportunity to connect with potential clients. Likewise, it is an opportunity to connect with other freelancers you may learn and benefit from through networking.
Not having enough ambition
It is already quite ambitious to start freelancing in any capacity. The pursuit of any level of freelance success is complex and requires an immense amount of patience and self-discipline.
Starting up is only one piece of the freelance puzzle. There is a hierarchy of ambition for freelancers, and the higher you climb it, the more likely you will be to attain long-term success.
Many writers, for instance, object to pitching to significant publications for lack of professional experience. Yet, there are endless examples of freelancers who started their careers in such an attempt to be accepted.
Ambition for freelancers is, in a lot of ways, subtle. For example, charging higher payment rates and marketing your brand on social media.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “those who craft their job for maximum enjoyment are 77% more productive, and 29% less stressed.”
Making your work life as palatable as you can to your personality can make a positive difference in your productivity and well-being as a freelancer –being one of the most ambitious tasks you may set for yourself as a freelancer.
Freelancing in all fields –but mostly creative and editorial spaces– is on the rise, and there’s no end in sight to these increases. But, because it is such an independent endeavor, mistakes are bound to happen.
If you start your freelance career with the necessity of business skills, knowledge of the marketplace, and strong ambition in mind, the sky truly is the limit on your potential for success.