2: Freelancing Overview
In this module, we'll be address:
- The realities of freelancing
- Common concerns first-time freelancers have
- What a freelancer's career path looks like
Realities of freelancing
You get to make your own hours – but they’re be often longer and higher-pressure than a full-time job, at least at first.
You can pick and choose your clients – but at the beginning of your career, you won’t get to be too picky.
You can do the work you want to do – eventually. You’ll want to do work that helps you reach your long term goals, leading to more work you want to do. But when you start, you’ll likely have to do some work that doesn’t necessarily align with your long-term goals.
You can work from almost anywhere – provided there’s a solid internet connection. There are advantages to being physically close to your industry and niche, and certain fields will have certain limitations, but in general, this holds true.
Your success begins and ends with you – which is empowering, but it means you need a plan, good habits, and a willingness to do the work.
Good news though: freelancing snowballs like no other career I know. Obstacles become smaller. Successes become bigger. Once you complete those first few steps and you succeed with those first few clients, the rest gets easier from there.
Some common concerns addressed
Am I selling out? Professionals get paid. Period.
Does my age matter? It’s
(mostly) not a factor. Clients just care that you have the experience necessary to deliver value.
Do I need a degree? You don’t need a degree, but you do need training and expertise.
Am I ready to freelance? It is possible to start too early. You need skills, expertise, and experience before you get started.
Why can’t I get work? Either your work or your marketing needs to improve.
A freelancer’s career path
There’s no fixed path in freelancing. What works for someone else may not work for you; what works for you may not work for others.
However, a freelancer always needs to do the following:
A freelancer needs to always grow their expertise: You can do so by learning more about your craft and periphery skills. You should always be building build business and marketing skills. Regardless, you need to be confident in your work.
A freelancer needs to always grow their connections: You can do so by sharing your work, looking for colleagues, joining groups related to your field or interests, following professionals who interest or inspire you, identifying your ideal client, and, as always: research.
You’ll notice growing expertise and connections is analogous with the answer to “why can’t I find work?”
In general, a freelancer’s career develops like this:
- Start as a generalist (who does a little bit of everything in their field)
- Become a specialist (who does specific work within a niche within their field)
- Become a consultant (who specialists or clients turn to for VIP work)
A freelancer should establish a niche ASAP. That second stage is where most freelancers aspire to and live in the long term.