What does it take to be a successful Freelancer? Whoa, that is such a big question, and I don’t have time to answer it in its entirety. There are some things that are essential though.
You must be organized (or pay someone to keep your organized!). As an entrepreneur, you wear so many hats. Bookkeeper, marketer, editor, creator, invoicer (if that is a real word), strategist and so much more. If you don’t have structure in place, juggling all these balls can start to weigh you down. Unfortunately, that weight can start to affect how you feel which in turn can affect your creativity. Create a to-do list every day. Stick to it. It will be a pain in the arse to start off with but once you ingrain this into a routine it will become second nature. I prefer to get all my non-creative work that I need done completed first thing in the morning. It frees me up to be creative the rest of the day.
Have a good circle of colleagues you can talk to. Freelancer life can feel very lonely at times. It also feels like we are making it up as we go along. Rest assured though, if you are going through something that is causing you to struggle, chances are someone else has been through it before. Asking for advice in a Facebook group is like turning on a fire hydrant when you are thirsty. You get way too much information, most of it from people who “pretend” to be experienced in the subject. And hey, it’s just stupid - I mean drinking from a fire hydrant.
Have a small reliable group of fellow Freelancers. People you are not afraid to ask stupid questions in front of. It is amazing how this can change your frame of mind and allow you to overcome many of the challenges you will face.
Be relentless. This is my favourite piece of advice. Let’s get one thing straight. You don’t deserve to be a success just because. Harsh……maybe. But it’s true. Behind every overnight success, when you start to peel back the layers, you always tend to find someone who has worked their ass off to get to where they are. They were relentless. Now, obviously, you must be good at whatever you have chosen as your Freelance career. But that in itself does not guarantee results.
I like to look at it this way. You know there are many others in the business doing what you are doing. The only thing you have control over is how relentless you are. You can’t change how relentless they are. It therefore follows that if you outwork everyone else in every aspect of your business, then you are likely to be more successful.
Don’t look at those who are more successful than you with a detached wonderment on how they got there. They worked bloody hard. I didn’t set out to write blogs every week, contact over 20 people a day, work tirelessly on my website SEO, post daily on LinkedIn etc. I wanted to bring words to life as a voiceover. But guess what, talking into a microphone for free, although fun, will not build a business. You need clients to be a successful Freelancer. Be relentless.
Don’t let complacency creep in. OK, so your success snowball has started to roll. You’ve got a got list of direct clients, you’re on numerous production company rosters and you’ve bagged some agents. Nice work! You can’t rest on your laurels though. A good friend of mine always says that he plans to lose at least one client every month. They may choose a different gender for their campaign, a younger sound, older sound, fresher sound – whatever! Sometimes there is no good reason. But you WILL lose clients. If you let complacency set in and you think you are doing enough, eventually it will catch up on you. And anyway, who wants to stand still. The thrill of the ride is feeling the wind in your hair. OK that metaphor doesn’t really work well for me, but you know what I mean. Strive to improve in everything that you do. It is invigorating, revitalizing. And remember, there is always someone out there willing to work that little bit harder than you.
At the end of the day, you’ve got this. You are reading this blog which means that you are striving to learn. You don’t want to stand still. You have a curious nature that yearns for information. All I ask is that you put it into action. Your brain is wired to help you succeed. You have survived everything life has thrown at you so far, right? If you do the work, get the skills and you are honest about your work ethic, then you are one step ahead of many other people. Do something now, as soon as you stop reading this. Connect with 10 people on LinkedIn, join an accountability group, book a coaching session. Anything that you were procrastinating about. Do it. I promise you will feel better. You’ve got this.