Starting a career as a freelancer can be both scary and exciting. The risk factor is always there but the independence and freedom that comes with it is always welcome. A 9 to 5 job isn’t for everyone and it is only natural for the adventurous spirits to venture into a field that breaks a few norms. Artists and creative people are infamous for bending the rules and when freelancing meets creativity, the fireworks are bound to be pretty.
It is not always fun and games though. A freelancer is a one-man company after all and it can get ‘lonely’ at times. The amount of effort and mundane repetitive tasks that go behind developing an exciting exterior is often ignored. A freelancer needs to think of oneself as a living, breathing brand. The challenges that come might be the textbook ones or they may be entirely new; it is crucial to stay prepared. Here are ten tips that will prove to be helpful to anyone who is or is thinking of becoming a freelancer in the creative arena.
Taste Before You Bite
Before jumping straight into the freelance arena, if you are working a job that you like, try freelancing as a part-time thing at first. The idea of freelancing can seem glamorous at first but it is foolish to jump into it without having any monetary cushion. Starting out as a new freelancer will definitely require funds of some sort and you need to make estimates of your expenses first. It is better to try freelancing as a part-time gig at first. This way, you will realise the amount of resources you will require once you begin full-time. Also, you will get a taste of how much pressure comes with being a solo freelancer managing everything at once. There are several finer points that you will learn about and this comes only with experience. It is always wiser to have a plan B in the locker and we advise you to do just that.
Build a Sturdy Foundation
Before you start working to get paid projects from clients, it is important to build a solid portfolio and a list of services that you offer. If you are, for instance, a graphic designer, make an aesthetically pleasing online portfolio on platforms such as Behance. To do one better, buy a domain and a hosting service and upload your experiences and other important details on a WordPress or a Wix website. There are other things that are part of a well-built foundation. Do your legal research and understand the rules and regulations that the government has regarding your professional arena. Learn the prerequisites before starting. Be prepared in a way that if you were to get a project tomorrow and if you were to deliver it tomorrow itself, you’d have all the resources to execute the entire process, from point A to point Z.
Know Yourself and Set Realistic Goals
Nobody knows you better than you know yourself. The most important thing is to stay honest to yourself. You must know what kind of work you are capable of doing, your strengths and weaknesses, the amount of pressure you can handle, and how much your work is worth. It is better to set an honest opinion about yourself. The key is to hold a middle ground here. Do not over-criticise but do not set unrealistic goals. Dream dreams that are practical to some extent. It is not demeaning or bad to look at things the way they are. Think of your freelance career as a raw block of stone and you are the sculptor designated to make a fine piece of art. and Take one small step at a time and soon you’ll end up surprising yourself with what you have achieved.
Work on your Digital Communication Skills
Good communication skills are always essential to succeed in the Sales sector and one of the first roles that you will take up as a Freelancer would be of a sales executive. The only difference here is that you are selling yourself as a brand along with your products/services. Read about how professionals exchange information over the internet. There are certain unwritten rules and ethics that are followed in the professional arena. Educate yourself with the proper means and channels to approach your leads and clients. Work on being a person who replies quickly to emails and solves queries and complaints of clients without batting an eyelid.
Know your Competitors
Another important step towards becoming a successful freelancer in any creative field (or any any field, for that matter) is to be aware of what your competitors are doing right. Learn from their shortcomings as well. Go through their portfolios and write down the areas where they fail to deliver; you can work on these points to advertise yourself later. It is not all about cutthroat competition though; you can talk to other creative freelancers and form a supportive community that helps each other out much like a networking channel. You can also visit the websites of the best people in your field and note down the things that impress you as a user; later, you can replicate them in your own unique way and use it as a launching pad for your freelance career.
Know your Audience
What came first? The chicken or the egg? Understanding your audience is a similar question. However, it can be tackled, unlike the chicken-egg conundrum. It is not all hypothesis. Whether you follow your art with all your uniqueness or you pursue your creativity in a manner that will please your audience is a decision that you will have to make early on. The identity of an artist is one of the unique selling propositions that they carry in their career. With time, you will collect an audience that likes your work. However, the number of people that you reach through your works depends on the kind of work and its quality. If you choose to offer services that are liked by a majority, it would be better for you in terms of revenue and reach.
Creativity Needs Time to Blossom
Your creativity is the fuel that runs the engine of your career. Since you plan on becoming a freelancer as a creative, it is safe to assume that you have a talent for making art or excelling in the creative field that you have chosen. Patience here is key though. Raw talent is not enough for a success story; perseverance and constant loops of trial and error are required for the right concoction. Look at unique places for inspiration. When it comes to creativity, thinking outside the box is the way to go.
Meet Your Clients in Person
Even though we talk about the superiority of digitalization, an offline approach adds a ‘human’ touch to things. Meeting your leads and clients in person shows that you make substantial efforts in your career. It highlights the importance with which you look at things professionally. When you have conversations with your clients in person, it imparts a personal side to your profession. It is not always about business and money and showing this to your clients can buff up your image in front of them. Literally going out there also gives you the experience to tackle real-life scenarios and problems. You get to see how things are done. For example, if you are working for a carpet manufacturer, go and visit their manufacturing unit. Meet the staff and see how rugs are hand crafted with your own eyes. Ask genuine questions and form long-lasting bonds with people.
Be Open To Criticism
Alway allow a bi-directional channel of communication. Receive constant feedback from people who you know are honest. Forward your work to family and friends and ask them for their honest opinion. Their feedback is never a personal attack so do not take things that way although it may seem like at times. Work on your weak points.
Another important factor is to be receptive to complaints from clients. Listen to their issues and do the best you can to solve them, even if it means that you work for a couple of extra hours. Customer satisfaction goes a long way in building a sturdy and robust freelancing career.
Accept Changes to the Conventional Methods
Last but not the least, you should always be ready to integrate something that is better for your career. New tools and software, for example, are released on almost a daily basis. Explore these tools and use them if they can help you. Get out of your comfort zone. It is easy to follow a mundane and monotonous method of doing things but remember, if you accept this, it would be better to pursue a 9 to 5 job. Being a freelancer is all about being vogue and going with the times. Use the best tools to do your job. Use CRMs to manage your sales once your clientele becomes large enough. Use bulk mailing tools to help you out.