Becoming a successful Freelancer requires many things – talent and ability certainly being quite by far the very strongest foundation. A great online platform to work through, absolutely isn’t going to suck – but, over and above that, how one conducts one’s self professionally – that’s the difference between someone who simply tries to make it in this business of becoming your own business and someone who succeeds.
It isn’t about adopting airs and graces. It isn’t about putting yourself over as something – someone - you are not.
As Ernest Hemingway most succinctly put it: “There’s nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man: true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
As a freelancer worker you are not who you are as an individual outside of working hours – as a Freelancer, you are a business.
You have to learn how to put yourself to one side and concentrate on what is – the work you have to do and the clients trusting you to do it for them on their behalf.
That’s what you’re for. Nothing else matters. Think of Freelancing as a little like it being the last suit you’ll ever need to wear.
First you have to learn how to wear it.
Here is how you do that….
Never exaggerate your qualifications and accomplishments.
You read it in people's profiles all the time. So-and-so is not simply competent in both their work and ability to deliver – they are the greatest thing since the invention of Sliced Arse…
Or Oxygen. And the apostrophe. One, or the other – most commonly all three.
Never attempt to palm yourself off as anything other than what you are. Simple proficiency speaks better and more plausibly well of you and your actual abilities than terms like “master”, “expert” and “Jedi Knight” – avoid words like “excel” unless, of course, your expertise is in using that particular software.
You’re a business. You do whatever it is you do professionally every day and people pay you. It’s what you do.
That is what you want to get across. Nothing else. Keep thing’s real or – failing that – amuse. Preferably do both. People are looking for someone to work with.
So let them. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.
Never make out you’re an “expert” or a “genius”– even if you are.
Universally, these are the exact kind of terms that will – I guarantee - get you rejected as a serious choice.
This one’s non-negotiable and should be a no-brainer. Never, under any circumstances, lie. About anything. To anyone. Ever.
Lies are for dull, unimaginative people – and they bore. Rapidly. Never think you’ve got the skills to lie to people – most especially in writing – because you don’t. Seriously. I don’t care how plausible and clever you think you might be. You’re not. You never will be.
Get that through your head right at the beginning and you’ll shine.
The single, stupidest, most idiotic thing you will ever do professionally is lie. Never lie to a Client.
This isn’t about ethics or morality. This is business.
If you can’t do a thing, say that. If you can’t deliver at a certain date – say that. If whatever deal you’re working under isn’t working out for you – say. That.
There is no advantage in any circumstance yourself lying – most especially in a written medium.
Never say what you think people want you to say – call it as you see it.
Though enormously sociable, this isn’t social media. You’re not here to make friends, you’re here to do business and the last person anyone wants to hire professionally is a suck-up.
If what a client is asking for isn’t fit for purpose - actually they could do with knowing that before committing further expense.
But don’t think simply telling someone their initial idea is off is enough – you have to be prepared to show them what will work.
That’s how you win a job: by showing the client what is right, hardly ever by telling them. More's the pity...
Don’t be shy of putting yourself and your idea’s forward – I remember vividly a book cover competition I came across not too long back, literally at the last hour – the client had asked for specific things to do with horse riding all the entrants had tried very hard to execute, but at the end of the day, the idea the client was calling for itself simply wasn’t working as a book cover design.
With no time to discuss the matter whatsoever, I entered a submission the complete polar opposite to everything called for – I not only won the award, I got a commendation for original thinking.
You have to be able to step back from simply needing to win a job for the money to doing your actual job – which is to produce the right work for the client – not necessarily what they initially asked for.
What is right.
Can’t be stated enough – but you’re here to do something for someone else – and that means you have to need to do it really for little other reason than you’re the only person who really can.
Set aside the whole thing about money for a moment, because – believe it or Ripley – money happens. It actually does. But for that you have to be able to do something for a complete stranger they couldn’t get from anyone else, anywhere else – at any price.
They have to get you. 100% of you and whatever it is you can actually bring to the table – and they have to be right in trusting that you are actually bringing it with you and not just blowing warm air.
Whatever that “it” is – commit to it. Commit to the work. Commit to see it through. Commit to do the job right.
Do it because it’s what you are – you’re a business.
You have to be prepared to do more than simply act – you have to be the kind of professional person you want you to be: stuff everyone and everything else.
In those hours that you are working – be true. To who you are, to what you’re about – find these things and become what they mean to you professionally. Don’t just play at it
Manners Make the Freelancer.
To Sum Up...
All anyone will ever see of you as a Freelancer is what you are capable of and have done for other people.
Your friends, your childhood, your family, your school - how incredibly great you are - nobody is paying you for any of that stuff. That is your life and Freelancer isn’t that kind of business platform.
All that life stuff - that’s somewhere… over there. It doesn’t come into this.
A job isn’t just a means to money – this is you being something more than just yourself.
This is about you being a business.
There are more secure ways of earning a living – self-employment isn’t a way out of anything, quite the contrary – it’s a way into all manner of things and most of them nowhere near as much fun as all the other things you’re clearly most accustomed to simply winning at.
This is the one job you can’t ever quit. Because you are the job.
That is the bottom line.
So see it through.
You are what you do and why you did it. So make it worth it.
Make what you do count. Make whatever it is you expect people to pay you good money for, money well spent.
Wear this job like it’s the last suit you’ll ever need.
Manners Maketh Everything.
You are how you carry yourself in this life.
So however you go about this - carry yourself well.