Today’s guest post comes from Candace Fykes.-Rob
Freelancer. A job description that once held a single definition with two distinct connotations—unemployed. In the olden days, it was thought that freelancers were either so highly in demand that they had a high level of agency over when and where they chose to work. Or, that they under the constant threat of poverty, desperately seeking employment when and where they could.
But then came the internet and with it, the ability to find work any and everywhere. And with this newfound freedom, instead of purchasing houses, millennials bought tickets and took off in search of cheaper rents and fulfilling life experiences.
And thus, the digital nomad was born. A profession that barely existed five years ago has now become the favored choice among Generation Z—a group of adults so young that they have never lived in a world where the internet did not exist.
Far from being viewed as unemployed or unemployable, freelancers are now viewed as those lucky devils who figured out how to properly prioritize their lives.
If you are reading this article, it means that you are now considering a life where you would rather trade-in stability of peace of mind. So how can you get in on this? Let’s explore that below!
Find A Niche
The key to finding success as a freelancer is to cast as narrow of a net as possible. This may seem counterintuitive at first. When you are just starting out, you may feel so desperate to find work that you will apply to almost anything. This seems like a good idea initially but getting hired for a job that you do not have the professed skill set for is a recipe for disaster.
The reality is that specificity leads to expertise. The more you do something, they better you will get at it. So, pick a particular style of writing, photography, consulting or whatever your preferred skillset is and master it.
Be reasonable, however. It may take you some time to find exactly where you fit and that is okay. But once you find it, stick to it. As I am sure someone’s grandmother once said, if you try to do everything, you will never excel at anything. Heed her advice.
Create A Schedule
At this point, I am convinced that FOMO (fear of missing out) was coined by digital freelancers.
The reason being is that as a freelancer, weekends no longer exist. Therefore, if you don’t create boundaries for yourself, you will often run the risk of constantly feeling as though you should be doing something. For all you overachievers out there, this may seem reasonable. Or worse, normal. But hear me when I say this is dangerous. Working as a freelancer often means having uneven work schedules. So, if you spend every waking hour trying to find work, there is a possibility that you can go to no work one week to 30 projects in the next. This can lead to you being overworked and overbooked.
The reality is that you will lose out on jobs. But that is normal. When you were working your normal 9 to 5, you weren’t thinking about all the other jobs were could be doing (at least, I hope you weren’t.) So why would you do it now? And, here’s some realism for you: you can’t possibly do it all anyway. If you spend all your time looking for work, you won’t have time to actually complete any projects you do find.
So, instead of driving yourself crazy, choose a few days a week to dedicate to searching for jobs in between projects. This will also mean that you will also schedule a few days off.
Maybe this will be a traditional weekend. Or maybe it will be Wednesdays and Thursdays. In any case, now that you are in total control of your new schedule, be sure to actually make one—so that you don’t end up driving yourself crazy.
Build and Maintain Relationships
After you have found your niche, made your schedule and booked a few jobs, you will realize something revolutionary. But nobody has time to wait for that, so let’s hear it now: you don’t need to work all the time, but you do need to work consistently. And you will soon find that there is a difference.
To work steadily, you don’t need to find new jobs. Instead, you need to focus on maintaining relationships with the contractors you already have. This can lead to the best kind of recommendations—word of mouth. So, not only will you continue working with the same employer, you will be in the position to receive contracts with some of their colleagues. This more personal/intimate way of forming relationships will lead to consistent high-quality and high paying work.
Never Stop Learning
Another important aspect of staying competitive in the job market is to stay informed. There is always something to learn. So, take a few minutes every day to improve your craft. If you are a photographer, look for information about new styles or techniques. If you are a writer, maybe you could look up copywriting or another style of writing to keep in your repertoire.
If you don’t have much money, don’t worry. The internet is full of free resources. You can start small with Youtube videos or blogs. And then possibly work your way up to an online course or workshop. Whatever you do, do not stay stagnant. Stagnancy is a kiss of death to a freelancer as it is a surefire way to keep your bank account empty.
Multiple Streams of Income
Luckily for you, the internet is full of places where people can search for work. And as a freelancer, you need to know about as many as possible. Along this journey, you will find that some sites will dry up for your particular niche for a while. And if that site is your main source of work, you could be in huge trouble. But if you have a few going at the same time, you are sure to always find something—even in the leanest of times.
So, keep your options open and your favorite sites set to job boards. You never know when one of the wells will run dry.
Build your Portfolio
This will by far seem like the most daunting yet most necessary task. And it is. Frankly, there is simply no way to find work then by displaying the work you’ve already done. But how can you do this if you are just getting started?
Firstly, before you quit your day job, you may want to pick up a few free jobs just to fill out your page. While this certainly isn’t ideal, it is an easy and surefire way to find some work fast. Use these experiences to create your portfolio. Although it may not seem that way at first, it truly is a win-win situation.
And as you grow, begin to use sharp editing skills and a preference for quality over quantity. Instead of showing all of your work, chose your very best. Even if it is only five items, make them the highest quality to ensure that you can demand higher and higher pay.
So, take the leap into the freelance waters. And if you follow these steps, you will soon find that soon all the people you knew in the cubicle will show up in your Instagram feed. And you can rest assured that they’re thinking…what a lucky devil.
About the Author:
Candace Fykes is an American expat and writer currently making her way across Europe. Follow her adventures on her blog https://www.travelingstrange.com/.
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