Monthly Archives: September 2016

Are You a Freelancer

According to the Freelancer’s Union, as of Fall 2015, almost 54 million Americans considered themselves freelancers, and nearly two-thirds of those people “made the jump by choice.”

But interestingly, the results of a 2015 survey conducted by Contently show that only about one-third of freelancers would decline “a full-time job in [their] field, with identical pay plus benefits…” Part of that may stem from the fact that, along with the perks respondents identified—like making their own hours and choosing what they work on—there are also concrete challenges. One-third of those surveyed listed “securing enough work” as their greatest struggle, and another 14% indicated they had trouble making enough money.

If you are (or would like to be) a full-time freelancer, you’ll need to prepare for and address the real issues that might come your way so you can be as successful as possible. Luckily, there are a ton of resources out there to support you in your endeavor—and we’ve gathered them all in one place:

 

Getting Started

You have a talent or skill that’s in demand. Colleagues and friends alike ask you if you’ll proofread their work, if you’ll design a logo for their latest ventures, if you’ll share your marketing expertise, if you’ll photograph their events, or if you’ll explain the latest social media trends. You know you could be charging for that thing you’re particularly good at, and you find the idea of freelancing pretty enticing.

Before you jump in with both feet, remember that working for yourself means more than wearing whatever you please and not having to share the team fridge. You’ll want to think through where you’ll work (Do you have a designated area at home, complete with a desk? Does it make sense to invest in a co-working space?), what hours you’ll keep (so you don’t get pulled into errands and lunches you really don’t have time for), and other seemingly small but super important things like having a phone plan that accommodates lengthy client calls and dependable Wi-Fi.

I’d recommend reading this article by Kate Kendall, the founder of the “talent marketplace” CloudPeeps. Kendall lays out a feasible plan for analyzing what separates you from the pack, finding your first clients, and getting real about just how paltry your income may be (at least initially).

 

Finding Work

Per Kendall’s suggestion, it’s a good idea to drum up some work as soon as possible—even before making the move from part-time to full-time freelancing. (And even if you’ve already been at it for a while, it’s never too late to revisit how you can gain traction and find additional work.) Check out these resources on finding clients and promoting your services.

 

1. On Job Boards

Sites like UpWork, CloudPeeps, and Mediabistro post freelancing jobs in a variety of fields often related to editorial, marketing, and social media. Business News Daily compiled an awesome list of the best freelancing sites to look for work including FlexJobs and Guru. And of course, The Muse features flexible and remote postings as well.

If you’re a full-time freelance writer, the site freelance writing jobs posts a roundup of opportunities each weekday and conducted a survey that’s a good reminder you can also find freelancing projects on more generalized sites like Craigslist and Indeed. The Mix from Hearst pays writers for personal essays they choose to publish, and getting a byline on a site like Cosmopolitan, Elle, or Seventeen is great for credibility.

 

2. Through Your Website and Social Media Profiles

Along with looking for opportunities, you also want to make sure that clients can find you—and that when they do, they’re impressed by what they see.

Your first stop is a killer personal website, and The Muse has many helpful articles on using Squarespace. (I know: I poured over them when I decided I was ready to migrate from a Blogger site.) Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Your Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Personal Website in a Week is the perfect jumping off point if you don’t have a website yet.
  • Our 24 Favorite One Page Personal Websites Will Inspire You to Create Your Own is a great example of how you can impress clients with just one page.
  • The Fun Activity You Can Do Now to Supercharge Your Career Next Year is a must-read for professionals who are looking for new ways to optimize their site and visually show clients how much they’ve accomplished.

How to Find The Best Job For You

Whether you love your job or hate it, you probably think about work on your off hours at some point. You kick around a particularly perplexing problem or grouchy client. You ponder how to deal with your boss’ latest antics. You brainstorm about how you’re going to get the heck out of there.

But there’s definitely a point at which this moves from helpful to, well, not so much.

In my experience, that point is typically when you find yourself panicking in the middle of the night about what’s going on at the office, writing work to-dos on your grocery list, and receiving fewer and fewer calls from friends (because, um, all you do is talk about your job).

In other words, bringing too much work home—even if that work is just rolling around in your head—can quickly make you an anxious, sleep-deprived, pretty boring dinner guest (and, yes, I know this from experience).

I also know that telling yourself to “think about work less” doesn’t quite work, so I loved the tips that Fast Company recently offered for training your brain to leave work at work.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

1. Create Transition Ritual

Your commute home is a physical act that separates you from the office, but try to add something mental to that activity, too. Laura Vanderkam, the article’s author, recommends “listening to or reading something light,” but I find jamming to your favorite tunes, playing a tough game on your phone, or calling a friend also does the trick. As Vanderkam recommends, “ask your family members (or friends or roommates) about their days, and challenge yourself to be a good listener. Focusing on other people and their needs is a great way to get out of your own head.

 

2. Give Your Brain a Different Problem to Solve

If your mind is still spinning after leaving the office, channel that energy into something else. Wondering whether you should attend your cousin’s destination wedding? Trying to decide what color to paint the bathroom? Use the immediate post-work time to think about that. If you’re still getting distracted, hold yourself accountable: Ask a co-worker or friend for a problem to solve, then promise you’ll have some thoughts on it by the time you get home.

 

3. Give Yourself a “Worry Time”

This is probably one of the most helpful tips I’ve found, especially if I’m thinking about a particularly hairy problem: Schedule a later time to stress. Think, “I’ll respond to that email tomorrow morning over coffee, and I won’t think about it until then,” or “That awful meeting is set for Tuesday, so I’ll set aside two hours on Monday to prepare for (freak out about) it.” As Vanderkam puts it, “Often, your brain just needs to know that there’s a time for thinking about that issue—and now is not that time.”