IT’S that time of the month again, when I try and share some wisdom!
Yes folks, welcome to my agony aunt column, ‘problem’ number two. (If you missed it, here’s number one.)
This letter came in a few weeks ago from a lovely reader and it’s one I’ve been really looking forward to answer, as to be honest, when it comes to the world of freelancing, I could talk about how amazing it is all. day. long.
Thank you to the person who sent it in. x
I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I make money from various articles on my blog. But I want more.
I want to be in a position that when my children are in school I don’t have to go back to work, to a job I hate.
I want to be able to use the skills I have acquired through blogging and apply them to a new role- a freelance role. I see other bloggers writing for online publications and I want in! I have written for a website before but it wasn’t permanent and that just landed on my lap by pure luck.
My question is this: How do I go about getting work? Some of the bloggers I know say they are approached- but how are they found?
Firstly, before we get cracking, I just want to salute you.
For realising your old job (that you hate) is no longer for you and – more importantly – for doing something about it by trying to carve out a new role for yourself.
Seriously well done. Well bloody done. You’re doing something that most people in my experience are absolutely terrified of, so I hope you’re feeling proud of yourself. In fact, I want you to stop reading – just for a second – and give yourself a big pat on the back.
Done it? Brilliant. Onwards we go.
The good news is that there are tons of different ways you can find freelancing work and we’ll get onto this in a second.
The bad news is that, getting the work isn’t always easy. If you think it will be, you may want to have a rethink. If you think, ah well, I’ll still love to have a pop, then let’s quickly move on.
I’ve been freelancing for over five years now, blogging for three, and here are the two main ways I have found work.
- Putting myself out there.
- Word of mouth.
Simple huh? But of course we know it’s not.
So let’s talk about the putting yourself out there bit first.
As a blogger, you’re more than half the way there already as you’ve got a blog – all signed, sealed and ready to be delivered – to anyone you fancy which is fantastic.
When it comes to demonstrating your writing and promotional skills, you’ve already got a golden ticket under your belt. Hold onto that and keep it looking shiny.
But what about the other stuff I wonder?
Have you got some inspiring testimonials from people that you could share with prospective clients? Have you got different examples of work (besides blogging) that you can showcase? If not, these are two areas you will need to put some work into.
Are you planning on doing non-blog related freelancing work for clients? If so, I would suggest you get yourself a professional website if you haven’t already. It doesn’t need to be fancy but you will need it to cover the basics – About Me, Contact, Testimonials, Examples of Work etc.
Once you’ve got all these things in place, it’s time to work your ‘putting yourself out there’ muscle even more!
And as uncomfortable as it can sometimes be, you need to do this. Singing your own song and making sure people hear it is an absolute necessity as a freelancer. So get warming that voice up now.
Make sure you tell EVERYONE that you are available for freelancing work. Yes, EVERYONE. Your family, your mates, your blogger pals, any businesses that you know. Everyone, bar your exes (we don’t need you to contact those!), needs to know you offer freelance support.
The best way I’ve found, besides mentioning it to them in person, is to whizz out a simple email, telling them you’re available for work and what you offer. Keep it polite, short and snappy.
Why is this so important? Because you just never know who knows who.
Person A: “Damn it, I’m really struggling to keep on top of my marketing at the moment. There’s just never enough hours in the day to do everything I need for this business.”
Person B: “Really? Have you thought about getting a freelancer to help you out? My mate / sister / cousin / ex colleague…”
Get the idea?
Next, look around for the companies you would love to work for and pitch to them too! Exactly as you would as a blogger.
And finally, work on PR and don’t ever let this slip. Get in touch with your local press, send out press releases or see if there is anyway you can get involved with a media outlet and help them out. (But please don’t work for free, unless the publicity / payback is worth it).
Granted all of this stuff takes time, but talking from my experience, I think you’ll find that once you get the ball rolling and get a client or two, magic will start to happen.
Which leads us on nicely to ‘word of mouth’.
As a freelancer – just as a blogger – your reputation is everything and will speak for itself.
So ask other freelancing friends if they’d be so kind as to recommend you. Use those testimonials I mentioned in the beginning. Do your best work for your clients and honestly, over time, business will come in by itself.
None of this easy. None of this is a given. But it can work. It does work. And it is more than possible to make a really good living as a freelancer. And I know, because it happened / happens to me!
When I started years go, I had nothing. No clients. No money. No website. But years later, my freelancing garden is looking pretty rosy and that’s because I’ve cared for it.
You have to give freelancing some time. You have to learn not to panic when you have no or little work coming in. You have to get to grips and realise that the ‘freelancing fear’ will never really leave you.
But if you can do all of this and put in place those two fundamental things I’ve talked about, freelancing will repay you in more ways than you can dare imagine.
Never compare yourself with anyone else or what they’re doing. Work your heels off. Be lovely to work with. Keep the faith. And just be you.
I’ll leave you with this letter I wrote to my ‘start up’ self years ago. Read it, let the words sink in and know that – all being well – you’ll never have to go back to that god damn awful job again.
If you’ve got a dilemma – any kind of dilemma from motherhood to marriage, style to careers- that you’d like some ‘non expert’ advice for, please feel free to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org and i’ll do my very best to help.
I’m not a trained professional but I do have a very kind pair of ears. (Or so I’m told).