What’s the biggest benefit to you in being a freelancer?
For me, it’s the beauty of having the freedom to choose what I work on, especially when maintaining multiple skills. That means that you can mix entrepreneurial endeavors with your freelancing. In fact, if you have expert skills in something, creating expert content between projects builds up a long-term stream of revenue.
For example, take a look at a Peter D. Marshall‘s website, Film Directing Tips. Whether or not you have any interest in being a filmmaker, it’s worth a visit to his site to see how he’s supplementing his income.
I have no idea whether he’s a freelancer or not, but he is a veteran filmmaker of over three decades. He’s taken his knowledge and created expert content and made it available for sale via his website. The website’s blog is a good example of blogging as a vehicle. The blog’s posts exist solely to promote his knowledge and his paid content, which includes audio files, video, PDF reports – all geared to the aspiring director.
This is a model you can adapt for almost any expert knowledge or skill that you have. If your freelance career is based around these skills, you’re likely to be something of an expert in them. Continue Reading
As a freelancer, you’ll encounter two schools of thought: you should either specialize and make your name as an expert in your niche or you should diversify and land as many different gigs as you can. No matter which approach you feel is correct, though, developing new skills is critical.
If you’re an expert in your particular brand of freelancing, certain skills can help you support your position as an expert. If, for instance, you’re a website designer who specializes in e-commerce sites, being able to set up a Google AdWords campaign that will bring traffic to that new site you just designed can help you endear yourself to your client (and charge higher rates). In some cases, you may not even need to make use of your skills — simply being able to guide a client through the process of finding the right help or being able to tell that help exactly what needs to be done.
If you’re taking a more diversified approach, the benefit of new skills may be more obvious. The more types of projects you can take on, the more work is available to you. Either way, every freelancer should keep learning, whether that means taking classes, buying informational products or simply experimenting with new technology. Continue Reading
In 2003, I became a member of Tucson’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This program trains ordinary citizens in emergency preparedness and basic disaster response skills like fire suppression, first aid, triage, and incident command.
CERT members are expected to participate in continuing education programs, and that’s why I recently went to school with a bunch of paramedics, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, SWAT team members, and chaplains. For four days, we studied the various tools and techniques used in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).
Now, you may be asking, what is a Critical Incident? And how would a creative professional happen to become involved in such a thing?
You know you want to tackle that new standard for CSS you’ve been hearing about. Or, you know that you should understand how overrides enhance Joomla! extensions and templates. You’ve heard the term “MVC” or maybe “SDK” but you have no clue what they mean. Maybe you want to learn a new style of writing so you can build that personal blog. But excuses pile up, for instance: you don’t have the resources, or your current work load doesn’t give you the time, or the best excuse — you lack the brain power. And really, if a client isn’t paying for it how can you legitimize the time?
Yet, to stay current and competitive in our cutthroat freelance environment, you must keep learning the “bleeding edge” of your chosen profession, be it design, web development, programming, or writing, or something else. The challenge is to continually keep learning while working. Otherwise, with the tools of our trades changing so rapidly we can quickly get outmoded. So, how can we at least stay on “speaking terms” with new techniques and technology?
Permit me to start this article with a confession: It took me more than a decade to make friends with accounting.
Not that accounting didn’t try to become my friend. It kept coming around my freelance business saying that I needed to deal with it. After all, I did need to know how much profit or loss I was generating so that I file a tax return.
So, I hired a bookkeeper to generate quarterly financial reports. Then, when tax time rolled around, she generated a year-end report for me and my tax accountant.
When it came to accounting avoidance, this system was superb. But there was a problem. The bookkeeper’s reports were seldom correct. I had to go through them, line by line, to see which income and expense items had been incorrectly logged or omitted. Little did I know, but my accounting education had begun.
I know that some of you are going to get grumpy when I tell you that working for free can be good for your personal and professional development. But bear with me for a few minutes, and then you can return to your grumpiness.
Here are six reasons why you’d want to do pro bono work for non-profit organizations:
1. You’re just starting out as a freelancer and your portfolio is empty.
I mean, that portfolio is so empty, there’s an echo in there. The good news is that there are plenty of non-profits that need your professional touch. They may have a website that needs redesigning. Or they need your computer programming skills to build a better membership database. Or their brochure could use better written copy.
If you’re a freelancer, you face the risk of burnout. How you handle it can make or break your career. Here’s how I recharged my freelancing batteries.
Late in the long, hot, and slow summer of 2006, I was ready to give up on my freelance graphic design career. I’d hit a wall in terms of bringing in new business, and my longtime clients weren’t calling the way they used to.
I’d just finished 14 months of construction courses at the local community college. Which may lead you to wonder what a gal like me was doing in a program like that. The answer was quite simple: I bought a 48-year-old house in November 2004, and I needed to learn how to fix it up.
Photo by Paul Worthington.
We’ve all said the words “I’d really like to…” followed by some personal or career ambition that often doesn’t get done. “I’d really like to write a book”, “I’d really like to be able to add illustration to my design skills”, or “I’d really like to learn to cook Thai food.”
And, of course, these statements are almost always followed by “if I had the time.” Here are five really easy things that are guaranteed to get you a lot closer to your ambitions (lets face it, if we didn’t have lofty ambitions we wouldn’t be reading this blog).
Photo by borrowed time | demi-brooke.
I was a decent freelancer last year. I passed the two-year full-time mark, I had clients on retainer and new clients still coming in. Business had doubled since the year before and signs were pointing to nice growth for year three as well. All the bills got paid every month and our savings had actually grown compared to when I was employed full-time.
I was a decent freelancer. At least I thought I was.
In October of last year my title and role changed a little from husband to husband/father. Uh oh. My emotions ran the gamut from elation to ‘who in the world would trust me with a kid?’ And everywhere in between. I can still remember the day that we were being discharged to go home wondering if I could find some little defect on him just so they’d let us stay a few more days to get our feet wet before he was under our care 100% of the time. Sad, I know. We did get him home and we were able to adjust. I haven’t dropped him or broken any bones, and according to my wife I’m a decent dad.
Photo by Raphael Goetter.
People often complain about freelancers being too competitive—but that’s not such a bad thing.
As a freelancer competing for jobs, you have to make it a point to stick out from the rest. And as long as you’re professional about things, there’s nothing wrong with maintaining an edge.
Here’s how to—and how not to do it!
Photo by F.S.M..
Intellectual property (IP) law is a big, nasty, confusing world–one long-time blogger on copyright law and issues recently shut down his blog, partly because “the current state of copyright law is too depressing.” But if you’re a creative, innovative freelancer, and you’d like to protect the materials you create–your original writing, music, software, artwork or designs–this stuff is really important. How do you navigate the murky waters of copyright and intellectual property law? Where do you go for information? Do you need a lawyer? What do you have to do to protect your original creations?
Photo by creo que soy yo.
As you probably know freelance workers do much more tasks than just designing, writing or whatever it is you do to pay your bills.
So why spend time and energy sharing your knowledge?
These days altruism is not very common. We’re so stressed with our work that there’s little free time left, and we want to spend it on anything else.
But moreover, sharing what you know is risky. Someone could steal your ideas or your techniques. It’s even a little unfair! Why share what you learned by yourself, with so much effort and without help from anyone else? And what do you get in exchange? Isn’t it a risk for your business? Is it worth the effort?