FREELANCING

Is your next career in freelancing? A frank discussion on the topic

July 24, 2014
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FREELANCING

Employees are unhappy and becoming freelancers

A recent Gallup report shows that unhappy employees outnumber happy employees two-to-one! That’s a HUGE number if you ask me; it might explain why we are seeing so many people quitting their so-called steady jobs to be free. Being genetically unemployable, I love seeing this happen, but the problem is that too many of these people are ill-equipped to thrive outside of a job.

We have plenty of resources to teach people how to run a business, but I have yet to find an effective resource on how to run a freelance business. It’s different; the E-Myth book covered the topic quite well until the author assumed every freelancer wants to bring on employees and build a business. The truth is that most don’t.

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If you’re planning to jump ship to become a freelancer, you would be well served to take some time to figure out your end game. Decide if you want to roam the world while making a living or if your future has employees with an office or storefront, in which case you will be transitioning at some point from freelancing to running a small business.



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Globe trotting freelancers are rare

Freelancers have a tendency to portray their life as grand, they look to travel at will and spend hours each day hanging out with friends. This is rarely the case, as freelancing is filled with hard work keeping all the wheels rolling without dropping the ball that causes it all to come to a screeching halt.

That’s the down side… the upside is that there is a lot of freedom that has to be managed. The key to being a successful (and not stressed out) freelancer is time and money management. Once you have these skills down the rest is fairly easy to pick up and keep a steady flow of business coming your way.

How to effectively be a freelancer

Regardless of whether you are new to freelancing or you’ve been at it a while, take a moment to go through these and make sure you do the following:

Skills Inventory. Take a look at everything you are good at doing, write it down. Don’t forget the skills that come natural to you like talking to people or managing time. No skill is too small at this point, put it on paper and we’ll narrow it down as we go.

Market Evaluation. Grab a pen or a couple of highlighters and mark each and every skill on your list that you know without a doubt has a strong market. For instance, you may have put using spreadsheets on your list, or graphic design. Those two skills are widely needed by companies of all sizes.

Knowing Your Burnout. Put a circle around any of these skills that you can do but just absolutely do not like doing them. If any of these skills were also marked in the market evaluation piece of this exercise, you may have to find a way to do the work to make money until you can transition to a more enjoyable skill.

Action Plan. Simple enough, write out what skill(s) you will use immediately to start bringing in the cash. If this initial skill is in the “burnout” or “don’t like” category, then make sure your plan includes how you will build towards your transition. If you are fortunate and enjoy a truly marketable skill, then define how you will grow your workload and systematize your processes.

Build Relationships. Plan to take about two years to get a solid footing as a freelancer; some people have it easier due to a market niche that is on fire. Regardless, you have to start building relationships that will refer you business, real relationships will keep your business flowing steadily for many years. Going out and selling yourself will get you business only when you’re hunting. Stop hunting, start building.

Freelancing is an amazing career choice; I have been amazed at the skills I get to see people use to make a living and a life they love. Figuring out how it will work best for you is a journey in self-discovery.

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Emily Leach is a pioneer in the world of uniquely-talented people who feel empowered to go beyond conventional jobs and create businesses from unique vantage points and perspectives. She is the founder of the Texas Freelance Association, the first statewide association of freelance workers in the country and The Freelance Conference, the only event of its kind poised to become THE conference for freelancers across the nation. Her belief that those working for themselves deserve the same respect as those working for major corporations drives her tireless fight to ensure this growing population of “genetically unemployable” solo-preneurs are represented and offered some of the same opportunities as those working for large corporations. Because of her knowledge and expertise, Emily has been a leading-edge organizer and speaker for TEDx events throughout the U.S. Southwest. Currently living in Austin, Texas, Emily’s outside interests include rowing, sailing, traveling, scuba diving, snowboarding, whitewater and cycling – basically, having adventures and living life to the fullest.

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