Freelancing – when I started more than 8years ago, it was quite easy to find clients if you knew where “the cool people hang out”. Meaning, you had a couple of freelancing platforms with more than decent work (i.e. Elance, oDesk, RentaCoder), a couple of cool forums (DigitalPoint, WarriorForum & more) and if you were smart and perceptive, even local freelancing wasn’t an issue. I remember having a tiny blog and still getting enough clients to afford a couple of holidays per year. I was a student, so for me having a few projects per month = sufficient funding.
Today, you can still do it, but things are not that easy. I see it in the eyes of people who attend my freelancing events. They don’t have that much hope, and no patience for what’s about to happen. Because I don’t want you to lose hope (yes, it is more than possible to make a living out of freelancing and to have a freelancing career or to move to entrepreneurship), I’m giving you my top #3 tips to succeed in today’s market.
Tip #1. Work From Cafes, Co-Working Spaces or Shared Offices
My first tip is linked to where you set your office to. Don’t lock yourself indoors. It’s not working anymore. It used to, but it’s not the case anymore. Instead, find a good cafe, co-working space or a shared office. It’s a different type of networking. These are places where open-minded people just like you gather to work. You can network with them, get to meet locals, foreigners or even the owners of these places and create new connections. Don’t believe me much?
Here’s What Happened to Me…
Three years ago I discovered a very cool cafe in the city I currently live in: co-working friendly, good healthy snacks, good plugs, great staff, overall enjoyable music and atmosphere. Drawn by the many benefits, I became a regular. From working, to meeting clients, gathering with friends and even dating. Back in September, the cafe was bought by a new owner, and immediately I noticed many changes (for the better). I ended up meeting the new owner in early spring, and there was even a work opportunity there: he needed some social media help, but the timing wasn’t right for me.
We befriended each other and a couple of months later, I got a message saying “we have an office space for rent just above us”. I immediately called two friends, freelancers as well, and we rent it. Guess who’s sitting at a cool desk right now, in the city center, looking at the National Bank outside her window and making money? #justsaying
What I’ve Learned…
Everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t have gotten all the opportunities (the story above is just one in many), if I had stayed locked in my apartment working from home, just because “working in your pajamas” sounds cool.
Tip #2. Become a Voice in Your Industry
If you never step out in the light, nobody will truly hear about you. Isn’t that a pity for that awesome creative brain of yours? After 4years of training freelancers and interacting with the community (locally and internationally), it is crystal clear to me that freelancers are people who love a good challenge and not the easy way out. For many, freelancing is a career choice or a step forward towards having your own business and working 100hrs a week instead of 40, right?
The idea is to not be afraid to speak your mind. Or write it, so that someday (if not today) someone will hear/read it. The path to becoming a voice involves longterm commitment and constant improvement. You can’t be a voice if you just repeat the same things over and over again. This industry is so dynamic, you feel like a student always studying for an exam – or maybe that’s just me.
Here’s How I Did It…
I am an introvert wearing the mask of an extrovert. I like my space and my peace, but hey, life is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. My first 4-5years I just “minded” my own business, invisible and not voicing out my opinions apart from a personal blog where I mumbled about… life. But that all changed once I moved into the capital and realized I knew no one in this big city. No one to ask for a recommendation, no network, no nothing. I didn’t like the feeling of being stranded in a desert, so I acted out.
Suddenly I started blogging more aggressively about freelancing and online entrepreneurship; notifying people that I organize these events for freelancers. I found networking meetups and connected with local bloggers. Somehow, some big shot print magazines found out about me and started pitching me with offers to get featured. And I accepted. In total, in 2013, I counted 27 TV, Print and Online mentions of my name and who I am and what I do, in business magazines, business blogs, national news channels and more. That, plus a nice cover story in one of the top business magazines in my country.
However, I wasn’t pleased with how some journalists positioned the term of freelancing, so I went beyond that and took matters into my own hands. So I started emailing international websites, news blogs and online magazines to ask if I could write about online business, freelancing, career, and all the package that comes along (time management, finances, branding, motivation, networking, community building). I got a few positive replies and that gave me enough courage to get my name out there without looking back. All of a sudden, I wasn’t invisible anymore. Imagine how that helped me generate more quality connections, meet new people, find opportunities, get more clients and even find business partners.
Tip #3. Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
Just like Rihanna’s song says, “work” x 5. Nobody is going to do it for you. All you can do is keep on working and going forward. Eventually, you will see results.
Had a bad day? Work harder, play harder, do something for yourself.
Didn’t get any new clients this month? Try not harder, but more efficient. Email leads, connect, follow, interact, engage, bring some value to the communities in your target audience.
Lost a client, or more? Keep on looking for a new one.. on writing… posting videos… giving advice… Or simply going to networking sessions. Keep it going!
You lost your motivation? Don’t give up! It’s hard, yeah I know, trust me, I have my days, too.
Here’s How I Keep on Working Myself, Part1
Okay, so I’m not saying you should work like a slave or become workaholic. But… fill your day with things that bring value.
- Exercise, or dance, or run in the park. Exercise gives you health, and you need health if you plan on making anything out of this experience.
- Prepare a healthy snack. Screw diets! Your brain deserves a healthy snack. Remember, you need 150 carbs per day to keep a sharp mind… sharp.
- Meet with friends. If your day isn’t filled with much work opportunities, go meet a friend and don’t be afraid to mention your current state. There’s always a chance they know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who… you get the picture.
- Write, record, talk, share with the others. Having your own channel or blog or social media group can really help. Maybe you won’t see the benefits right away, but anything you start growing has the potential of becoming a “lead magnet” and generating revenue at some point.
- Develop own product. If you have the time, create your own thing. A course teaching others what you can do, a physical product you can sell, an online product, anything really. It will keep you focused.
But that’s not all…
Here’s How I Keep on Working Myself, Part2
- Stop overthinking! Some people, because of no proof of short-term results, tend to occupy their time with overthinking and end up not doing much. I stay as far away as possible from overthinking.
- Have hobbies that keep the mind sharp. I play chess, I draw, I write, I compose, I cook. These are creative activities that keep my mind sharp all the time and do not let me ponder over whether I’m cut out for this. Creating stuff or solving things feeds me with enough energy and positive attitude to last for a few days.
- Read a good motivational book or watch a good motivational video. Depending on how much you can afford spending, time-wise, I recommend either videos or short books. My favorite motivational short book is Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy.
- Talk to family members or closest older friend. Seriously, nothing gets you over a bad day like a good life advice from parents of people who are way older than you. They know what they’re talking about it. I always talk to my parents and brother about my problems and my joys. The honest advice I get from them just keeps me going.
- Self motivational speech in the mirror. Yup, I talk myself through my bad moments. And I talk to myself like I would give advice to a friend in need. Seriously, if you’re not there for yourself, who is going to be?
Here’s the Thing…
In this time and age, you can make money out of anything. I remember talking to a former associate of mine and he said at one point, “Roxana, we live in times where we can make money even with selling plastic used bottles; it ain’t that bad, is it?“. And he is right. Most importantly, you can generate an income doing what you’re really good at. As biased as it sounds, you can monetize your passions anytime, but just like search engines, there are hidden factors which influence how your value ranks in the eye of others.
So what are you going to do about it?
Give up, or going forward?
Just take a leap of faith and start doing something today.
Finally, today has less than 24hours already, so can you afford the comfort of daydreaming and waiting for things to happen or are you going to start doing something for yourself?