Freelance & Contract Work

Finding your way as a full-fledged freelancer can be tricky. Between getting your name out there and scoring a steady stream of clients, the road to a freelance career isn’t always easy. Related: How To Determine Your Niche As A Freelancer Here are five ways to brand yourself as a freelancer—and enjoy the flexibility, freedom, and financial gain that comes with it.

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Freelancing is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's prized for being a great way to take control of your own career and professional destiny. You control the work you do, the clients you work with, and the money that you make. Of course, all of those things come with caveats, but it’s easy to see the benefits. On the other hand, freelancing can mean working far too many hours, handling difficult clients, and being responsible for all of the not-so-fun aspects of owning your own business. Related: How To Brand Yourself As A Freelancer How can a freelancer manage their time to be effective and successful, all while retaining work-life balance? Here are four steps to take.

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You may be wondering whether temporary work should have a place on your resume. When job security is hard to come by and job openings are limited, employers are accepting that more applicants are keeping themselves current with temporary work rather than having a gap in employment. Related: Transform Temp/Contract Work Into A Permanent Job Find out how to best position your temporary work to showcase valuable and relevant experience for the new job you apply for.

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42% of employers intend to hire temporary or contract workers as part of their 2014 staffing strategy - a 14% increase over the past five years. [Career Builder] Related: 4 Ways To Get More Freelance Work This new trend is troublesome because contract jobs typically don’t offer the following:

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Online freelancing communities for academic freelance writers are highly competitive workspaces where writers can sign up, create a profile, and bid on assignments that customers post to the site. With this kind of intense competition, it can be difficult to be awarded an academic writing assignment, especially when you are up against more experienced and highly-reviewed freelancers. Related: How To Find Clients As A Freelancer But never say die! We’ve interviewed the best freelance academic writers from and compiled top five must-follow tips to become the freelance academic writer that customers will love.

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After years and years working for other people, you’ve decided that you want to call the shots and be your own boss. After all, at this stage of your career (and life), being a freelancer would not only give you a more flexible schedule, but better work-life balance, too. (Do you feel stuck in your career? In this webinar, career expert J.T. O’Donnell will show you exactly what you can do get out of your career rut and into a more satisfying career.) But just because you’re ready to start your freelance career doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a steady supply of clients right away. Here’s how to find clients as a freelancer.

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This post is part of the Professional Independence Project series. Jumping from a corporate environment to becoming a freelancer isn’t easy, but it can be quite rewarding. You will lose a lot of the benefits that you have enjoyed with a company, but you will have a lot more flexibility and you should generally be a lot more satisfied, as you’re the driver of your own bus. Related: How To Find Clients As A Freelancer The ride can be pretty bumpy, however, so you really need to consider a number of things before you take the plunge. The main things you should consider are:

1. Plan For Your Transition

Unless you’re terminated by a reduction in force or due to other circumstances, and caught having to freelance just to survive, you should adequately prepare for it. Ensure that not only have a sufficient nest egg to weather the storm, but that your family is onboard and supports your move. Without either, you will be faced with multiple challenges and you will not enjoy your position. Develop “I am a salesperson” mentality. The product you will be selling is you. You should also begin to network as much as possible. This will ensure that you have individuals you can call on as potential customers or referral partners when you begin your new journey. You don’t have to tell people exactly what you plan on doing, so as not to jeopardize your current position, but explain to them that you’re trying to ensure that you know a sufficient number of people, as in this job environment no one is sure of their future and you want to cover your bases. Establish a true RELATIONSHIP with people and don’t be a business card collector extraordinaire. There’s power in the quality, not in the quantity of people you know. Do this months in advance and continue to nurture your network, so that when you cut the cord, you’ll be able to quickly connect. Also, volunteer your time and try to align what you’re doing as a volunteer with your future vocation as a freelancer. This will give you some outside experience that can be added to your LinkedIn Profile, will help your credibility, and it will provide you with some more great connections. Finally, develop “I am a salesperson” mindset and persona. The product you will be selling is you. Practice “selling” yourself with family and friends and solicit their feedback once you’ve decided on your focus, as talked about below.

2. Ensure That You Have Specialized, Marketable Skills

It is extremely important that you have clearly specialized and marketable skills. What will differentiate you from everyone else out there who is competing against you? There is an abundant supply of freelancers throughout the world who anyone can now tap into by using such sites as oDesk, Elance, and Fiverr. How are you going to compete, so that you’re whole business is based only on price? You should really check out these sites not only for competitive purposes, but also to see if there might be some potential opportunities for you, as well.

3. Line Up Assignments

Your transition will be a lot easier if you’re able to provide services to your former company or have others already lined up to do work for before making the plunge. I have found that those who have been most successful initially are those who already have this work in place or can quickly obtain clients. Please note that these assignments might not align perfectly with what you want to do eventually, but they will provide you with the startup capital and cash flow that will allow you to get established and to finally position yourself in what you’ve decided to focus on.

4. Focus

It’s imperative that you focus and not try to think too big as you get started. What will be your goals and objectives? Where do you want to be three months from the start, six months, one year, and so on? Write them down! Define who your target customer is going to be and how you’re going to market and sell to them. Where are you going to go fishing for leads? It can become an extremely time consuming and expensive proposition going to networking meetings and coming up empty handed with nothing to show after many months of so doing. You need to calculate what your time is worth and how much each meeting is costing and determine if it is a fit within a short period of time. Although you might meet a number of individuals who appear to be prospects and/or referral partners, nothing might ever develop, so it is probably best to move on. Make sure that this is going to be part of your game plan.

5. Brand Yourself

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to focus on start building your brand. Start to think about your logo, business cards, website, and social media activities. Once you’ve clearly defined what it is you’re going to be on the “other side,” move forward on developing these materials and positioning yourself as soon as possible.

6. Stay Motivated And Positive

Freelancing can be a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. You need to make sure that you’re an optimist and have the personality that will allow you to stay positive and motivated. So much of it is really a mental game and those who are mentally prepared seem to flourish much more readily.

7. Be Prepared To Pivot/Embrace Change

What you’ve chosen to do as a freelancer might not always be in demand. Some bright, shiny new object might appear that could make your skills obsolete. You need to be continually looking out for emerging trends and making the necessary adjustments that will enable you to compete and prosper in a new environment. Be prepared to pivot and jump into something else if it doesn’t appear that there’s any future for what you’re doing. You’ll need to learn to embrace change and take advantage of the opportunities that it creates. You’ll need to try to catch that next wave that you can ride for multiple years, so that you’re not constantly having to reinvent yourself. Here’s to your future journey in what can be a wild, yet incredibly rewarding new world!

Want to take control of your career?

If you want to take control of your career, check out our fall series, the Professional Independence Project. Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing expert advice and insight on how you can build a successful career you love. Sign up now to get five FREE video tutorials that show you how to market yourself to anyone, anywhere. Start your path the professional independence. Sign up today!       Photo Credit: Shutterstock
This post is part of the Professional Independence Project series. If you’re old enough to know what a memo is, you’re old enough to get this one. The “Gig Economy” is here. In the gig economy, you make a living with short term freelance projects, or “gigs,” rather than a traditional job. Examples include ride sharing services such as Uber, and freelance web hubs like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour. Related: 4 Ways To Get More Freelance Work For many young people, it’s entirely normal. For those of us a little further along, it’s seems a bit suspicious or even disreputable. Boosters like to say that it is reinventing the workplace and adding to our freedoms. Detractors warn that gig economy income is unreliable and that it costs workers many rights and benefits that they have long enjoyed in the workplace. Well, here’s the rest of the memo: Whether or not you’re in favor of the gig economy, you’re already in it, even if you have a regular job. The new reality in the American workplace is that, for many of us, what was once known as a full-time job is actually a gig, a year or two-long assignment that will end with you being renewed or kicked out. As we get older, the process of getting kicked out becomes more and more painful. Reentry into this high-turnover, low-loyalty workforce becomes more difficult. As a result, doing gigs emerges as a viable career option for many of us. My own experience can be illustrative. After fifteen years of serving as a marketing executive at technology companies large and small, I went off on my own a year and a half ago. I am now a freelance writer of marketing content. So far, it’s gone pretty well, but I’m constantly looking for ways to make it better. In the spirit of learning and open-mindedness, I found myself signing up for a Fiverr account a few months ago. I told members there that I would write them a press release for just $5, of which I would get $3.92 after their cut and a PayPal fee. Was I out of my mind? I make six figures writing marketing content for Fortune 500 corporations. Why on earth would I write a press release for $3.92? Yet, my decision to try it represents one of the basic principles of the gig economy, which is that you always have to be willing to experiment and see what you can learn. The gig economy is not static. For those of us over 40, we need to work harder at figuring out where it’s headed. What did I learn? I learned something that I already knew, which was that $3.92 is not enough money for me to write a press release. But, I also learned that it was possible to strip the process down to the point where I could turn around five dollars’ worth of press release in about 15 minutes. If I were 22 and hanging around a Starbucks, that would mean I would be hauling in about $16 an hour – more than the Barista makes. With rush charges and add-ons, you can make more, but it still wouldn’t be a living for me. Yet, I’m glad I did it. I highly recommend trying an experiment with the gig economy, if for no other reason than to understand what you’re competing against. If you run a PR firm that charges clients $25,000 a month, it might be educational to see what people can get for $5 on a gig economy site. With that in mind, let me share five thoughts on how to have a successful gig economy experience:
  1. Don’t get caught in a race to the bottom – Competition from gig seekers puts pressure on us to find out where we really add value.
  2. Use it to learn about yourself – The gig marketplace can provide us with insights about what we are actually good at and enjoy doing.
  3. Use it to test entrepreneurial ideas – The gig economy doesn’t penalize failure because, a la Fiverr, if you fail, you’re out less than four bucks. It’s a great place to try new ideas.
  4. Be organized – You’re the CEO of your own business in the gig economy. This is good news for us older workers. We can bring decades of discipline and management skill to the task of getting and completing gigs.
  5. Think like a salesperson – Gigging means constantly selling yourself. This might sound stressful but the good news is that you’re selling bite-sized bits of your time. It’s a low pressure sell, a low stakes game where both sides benefit from the transaction.
Gigging can even be fun. You can get lots of positive feedback about your work, an experience that can be rare in the regular workplace. Go for it!

Want to take control of your career?

If you want to take control of your career, check out our fall series, the Professional Independence Project. Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing expert advice and insight on how you can build a successful career you love. Sign up now to get five FREE video tutorials that show you how to market yourself to anyone, anywhere. Start your path the professional independence. Sign up today!       Photo Credit: Shutterstock