It's a Freelance World Baby!
How to be a kickass freelancer in a digital world
If you've got serious skills and can market yourself, you can make it as a freelancer in almost any line of work these days. Digital connectivity brings jobs right to your inbox through sites like Workmarket and Upwork. The downside is that competition is fierce. There's no room for being second unless you want second-rate pay.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a room filled with travel journalists listening to a panel of top-level editors. One of those editors was my hero, Jo Piazza. She was one of the founding editors and subsequent Managing Editor of the award-winning Yahoo Travel-- the digital travel magazine that turned its market upside down before being shuttered by the well-publicized corporate problems at the parent company. When discussing her likes and dislikes about freelance writers, Jo singled me out in the audience as a "kickass freelancer."
Here is what I did to earn that distinction, all of which apply to freelancers in almost any field.
1. Never Say No.
There will be times when you are asked to learn new things to complete an assignment. There are times when you'd rather spend the weekend with your BFF. It may not seem like much to say no on occasion, but wouldn't it be better to be known as the go-to person that is always available?
2. Be Faster Than Fast.
No matter how tight the deadline, beat it. Do this on every job and you will always have more assignments than you need.
3. Don't Be A Buddy
Your temporary boss is still a boss. Keep your messaging and conversations brief and professional.
4. Be A Cheerleader
Whoever you are working for at any particular point in time is your home team. If the situation warrants it, promote them on your social media channels. Even if your work is a tiny invisible part of the big picture, promote that big picture.
Photo courtesy of Oregon State University
5. Check Your Work.
Don't make someone else do the heavy lifting of smoothing out the wrinkles in your work. Do it right.
6. Don't Dance Around The Money.
Money is a difficult topic for freelancers. Don't wait until the job offer has progressed through several emails to discuss the financial aspects. Be upfront about asking what the job pays. BTW, low pay is the one and only thing you should say no to.
7. Learn To Write Well.
This applies to everyone. There are very few freelance jobs that don't require some form of written communication-- emails, reports, checklists. Communicating clearly in writing makes you the number one Kickass.