The Art of Freelancing
This post is a departure from parenting and cute crafts, although considering how long I’ve been straying from those types of posts, maybe it’s not a departure at all. Today, I wanted to talk about how I pay the bills.
I often get asked how I’m making “it” work. “It” meaning blogging/freelancing. Before I delve into how I’m making it work, I should probably share a few things for context. Over the years, I’ve experienced every variation of employment…
-Outside the home
-Inside the home
There were years when I brought in more income than my husband. I’ve also brought in less, none, and for a few years when I tried being an entrepreneur, I cost us money. So I think it’s pretty fair to say, I’ve tried a lot of different things and learned many lessons. Here are some of the things I’ve learned that may help you if you’re transitioning from one thing to the next.
Spread the Word
I’ve been super fortunate to work on some fantastic projects. Nearly all of them came through word of mouth. So my first tip is to spread the word. Be vocal about what you want/need and people will start thinking about you in that way. For instance, a friend who knew I was looking for work mentioned my name to a museum who was looking for an illustrator. The museum liked my work and I got the gig. Cue happy dance.
And for those of you who don’t have huge followings on IG/Facebook/Periscope, etc, etc, I’m going to share a secret: It’s not about how many followers you have, it’s about knowing the right people. You could have a handful of followers and you can still land some seriously cool gigs. So don’t worry so much about the numbers. Many of them are artificially inflated anyhow.
While word of mouth is how I’ve gotten nearly all my jobs/projects, the people that hire me don’t take it on word alone. They need to see my work. So make stuff, lots of stuff, all the stuffs. Don’t wait around for someone to ask you to do a job, give yourself permission to do it. Also, show up at local events, set up coffee dates, be present online and off. I mean it, get yourself out there! You can do it.
Charge What You’re Worth
If you’re a woman reading this, chances are you don’t ask for enough pay. I find this especially true of women working outside the traditional career track. For those of you working online? Your skills are as valuable online as off. There’s a tendency to believe that if your work appears online, then it’s less valuable. Nope. It’s simply a different delivery platform. The work is the same; charge accordingly. Wondering if you’re charging too much or too little? Ask a guy what he’d charge for comparison. And remember, it’s okay to counter someone’s offer.
Shake What Your Momma Gave You
Actually, that should read: Shake What You Gave Yourself. Listen, you have a ton of skills; even more than you think. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, I like to call it going feral, then it can be challenging to sit down and draft your resume. If you’re having trouble, call on friends or someone who loves you a lot to help you generate a list of your skills. Find yourself with too long a list? Whittle it down later to fit the job you’re applying for. Speaking of friends, ask to take a peek at their resumes. They’ll be more than happy to help. If not, get yourself better friends.
Do Good Work
Someone threw you a bone and gave you a small project. High five! Now, treat it with the same respect you would a larger job. Don’t go over hours (you don’t want to end up resenting the job, plus people should get what they pay for), but be conscientious. Oh and don’t underestimate the power of friendliness. You want people to have a pleasant experience working with you. And when it comes time to part ways, divorce your client on amicable terms. Do it with love for them, but even more importantly, love for you.
If you’re working online, it’s an easy temptation to put all your eggs in the Brand Basket—it’s what’s been drilled into bloggers’ heads since time immemorial. Don’t. Brands want the newest, hottest thing, and you’ll only be new and hot to them once. And you know what? We can’t even be mad at them for it. It’s part of what makes us love them. The best ones are always innovating. Make sure you innovate too and do that by looking beyond brands.
Part of my innovation? Most of my work is now done behind the scenes. My blog, as you may have noticed, has kind of run its course. Now I freelance for other companies. And that’s the thing about freelancing or creative work, or really any work at all—what works today may not work in the future. Since that thought thoroughly exhausts me, I end with this, the most important tip of them all…
Take Care of Yourself
Things are changing rapidly, especially for those who have built a career online. You have to learn how to roll with the punches, sure, but you can only do that if you’re in a healthy place. Breathe, meditate, write, draw, work on personal projects, spend time with people who love you, ditch the negative nellies, see a therapist, eat well, drink your water, take your vitamins, and be in your own corner. This career path is full of rejection. Hell, what am I saying? Life is full of rejection at times, right? So don’t pile on by rejecting yourself, or your skills, or your right to be in this world and heard. Learn from Meryl.
ps. I recently sat down with Hear Motherhood to talk about my journey to freelancing, including how I’ve learned to overcome fear and criticism. It’s a very honest conversation and we cover a ton. I’d love for you to check out the podcast.