So. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I know that sounds like one of those nightmare job interview questions, but it’s worth asking yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? What’s the endgame for your freelance career?
To me, freelancing is a little like playing chess. That’s because for both there are three distinct stages: the opening, the middle game, and the endgame.
You see, when I was younger, I studied chess. Yes, I was a nerd and actually “studied” chess. That meant working my way through dense books full of difficult and arcane chess strategy, including how to handle each stage of the game.
I’ve been pretty lucky to work with mostly good clients over the years. But every now and then, like everyone else, I get one who ends up being a pain in the butt.
Tiffany Markman shows how to share your feelings with those sort of clients. Though I don’t recommend you actually send a letter like this, it’s fun to fantasize about it.
You and I have been working for some time on the web copy for your new range of products. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. At this stage, I feel a letter might be appropriate, to convey how I feel about my creative collaboration with you.
To begin with, when briefed to create search engine optimised (SEO) web copy, I revel in repeatedly explaining what search engine optimisation is. Even the third, fourth and fifth attempts to illuminate this concept felt fresh and new to me.
1. It’s my business so I call the shots.
2. No suits.
3. No ties.
4. I can wear outrageous Hawaiian shirts 365 days a year.
5. Pants optional. Just joking. I almost always wear pants.
6. It’s more of a challenge than having a job.
7. No cubicle.
8. My victories and failures are my own.
9. I don’t have to “do lunch.”
10. I work at home. No commute.
11. No road rage.
12. No commute saves me 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week, 500 hours a year. That’s over 20 extra days annually. Whoo hoo!
The world is filled with dreaming writers who have heard golden stories of the great beyond (working full time as a well-paid freelance copywriter), but who have yet to make the mysterious transformation from mere mortal to freelance god.
Many of my fellow immortals would keep you in the dark, struggling to find the secret.
But I, in my infinite mercy, shall now reveal to you the 7 steps for breaking the bonds of earth and ascending in glory to the pantheon of six-figure writers who …
Okay, even I can’t continue with that silly metaphor.
The fact is, there is very little difference between you and those “godlike” writers you admire and envy. Going from struggling writer to successful freelancer isn’t effortless, but it’s not as complicated or mysterious as you might think.
Really, it’s about 7 pretty simple ideas:
This post originally appeared at Men With Pens.
Ah, the freelance copywriting life. You get to sit at home, work when you feel like it, and tackle only choice projects from smart, easy, free-spending clients who love and adore you.
Well, not quite.
All those e-books and courses that promise freelance nirvana may be bending the truth just a little bit. Yes, you can work from home. But you’ll probably put in long hours, especially for the first few years. And you won’t get all plumb projects.
Some of your clients will be wonderful. Most will be average. But some are going to suck. That’s the way it is. Some can suck so bad, you’ll be temped to get out of freelancing altogether if you’re not prepared to deal with them.
So let’s look at the various ways clients can suck and how you should handle it.
Here are some of the basic sucky client categories:
In part 1 of this short job hunting series, I said that it’s possible for some freelancers to get tired of chasing clients, fretting over cash flow, and feeling burned out.
While it’s a great way of life for me and many others, freelancing full-time forever just isn’t for everyone.
So you might wake up one morning and decide that it’s time to look for a real job.
No shame in that. As long as you’re not giving up on freelancing too soon, which is the biggest mistake newbies make, my advice is to do what’s best for you.
We’ve already talked about some of the challenges freelancers face when hunting for a job and a few things you can do to lay the groundwork for a job hunt.
Now, as promised, let’s look at a few commonsense tips for how to leverage your freelance expertise, set yourself apart from other job hunters, and land the job you really want.
I’ve been a freelance copywriter for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a “real” job.
Early on, when freelancing was new and mysterious, I continued to entertain the possibility of full-time work. I even went on interviews now and then.
I haven’t thought about looking for a job for years, but I’ve recently learned that some of the freelancers I know have thrown in the towel and re-entered the rat race. Why?
Maybe they got tired of chasing clients. Or perhaps they needed regular cash flow, paid benefits, or a more social work environment. Maybe they just got burned out, since freelancing, while a wonderful way of life, isn’t for everyone.
I listed some of the pros and cons of full-time vs. freelance copywriting last April.
Whatever the reason, this news got me thinking that while I generally talk about how to get into freelancing, it might be a good idea to talk about an exit plan.
So how do you get back into the workforce when you’ve been freelancing for a while?
Okay, I stole that headline idea from comedian Stephen Colbert. But it kinda makes sense if you read this whole post.
You see, I get a lot of emails from aspiring copywriters who want to know how to break into freelancing and find success.
And I have to admit, that’s a difficult question to answer. There is no one right path.
I’m not aware of any college curriculum that teaches freelance business practices. And I wouldn’t trust a professor to provide good advice on a topic like freelancing anyway.
Every freelancer I know has a different story to tell. Each has different advice.
I might suggest that you seek a job in marketing or advertising, get a few years of experience, freelance on the side for a while, then launch your own business. That’s because most successful freelance copywriters have some area of expertise that makes them more valuable than an ordinary writer.
But instead of pontificating about what I think you should do, why don’t I just tell you about how I actually came to freelancing? I had nothing like a plan, yet in a strange way, it was the perfect path for me to get to where I am today.
You can do all sorts of creative promotions and aggressive marketing to increase your value to clients.
But in the end, it’s what you deliver with your freelance services that will make or break your business.
Quality work is the best marketing there is.
Many freelancers or those considering freelancing sometimes want the quick and easy way to achieve the high pay they’ve heard is possible.
But the fact is, there is no shortcut. You have to be good at what you do. Clients must value the service you are selling to them.
Even marketing that is pure genius won’t take you from earning $50 an hour to earning $250 an hour. Marketing opens doors. After that, you have to come through with great work to earn top freelance pay.
With experience, you will come to know the standards in your chosen specialty. But from your first project, and on every project, large or small, you must strive to deliver the best work you are capable of within the time available.
Clients don’t expect brilliance, but they do expect quality.
A few weeks ago, Allison Marquardt commented on the post When freelancing fails and asked some great questions:
I’m wondering about the role of the web and social networking in freelancing. I’m a working writer, but I’m curious about what you think about these things as a promotional tool for freelance writing.
Should I spend time with these things first, or should I just try to get some more work? Things like Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, creating my own blog, etc. I mean, I could spend hundreds of hours bringing these things up to par in an effort to get more clients. Or maybe they aren’t so important. Can I get clients without having 100 connections on LinkedIn, a big Facebook presence and my own daily blog? Do most clients expect to find you on LinkedIn and Facebook? Or don’t they really care, as long as you do good work and meet their deadlines?
Is a good electronic portfolio adequate these days, or is full participation in the social media game a necessity?
Here was my answer to her:
Wow. That’s a lot of questions. And all good ones. Maybe I should write a post on this to answer it.
The short answer is that you can promote your services and find clients in many different ways. It all depends on who your clients are and what works for you.
I still think my short answer was spot on, but let’s take a look at the long answer to fill in the details a little.