the business side of freelance

I often get questions about how it is that you can take a creative career and find a solid balance between strategic thinking, getting artistic and making money. Often times people enter in to the creative space with talent and passion. What can be challenging is the ability to translate that passion in to a successful business. It is easy to get wrapped up in what you love, want to lend a creative hand here there and everywhere and before you know it, you are essentially working for free.

This space can be complicated, many people struggle to understand how much a freelancer should be paid, when they feel like they are being over charged or how to build budgets for freelance work. The good news is that brands and corporations are getting savvier here and and certainly welcoming of the freelance work particularly if it reduces committed overhead to their company. 

So what does that mean for you? the person who is just really good at what they do and deserves to get paid- well, it means just that! Stop doing things for free unless you absolutely believe that in doing so, it is going to translate in to something awfully successful for you. Establish your rates, stick to them and always stay consistent.

It may just be that because I come from a corporate marketing background that I was groomed in an environment that certainly instills best practices and ways of working that are very professional but I am a stickler on strong communication. If you are pitching something to a prospective client, put your very best foot forward- always. You are selling yourself and how you do that can mean getting the job or not. Email is certainly the preferred way that people are communicating, however this can also be challenging in that tone and clarity can often get muddled. I highly recommend a customized presentation when responding to a brief or proactively pitching. Often times the person that you are chatting with will not be the only decision maker. Allow the transition to be easy for them to sell to others with a clear, well thought out and equally well designed presentation. 

Keeping it simple is important, too much communication or getting lost in a lot of ideas will only make things complicated. While keeping it simple, be sure to give some options and not assume that the one idea that you have will be the winner. You will need to be a little flexible and collaborative with your ideas to get to a great idea.

Lastly, be professional, always check your grammar, spelling and lay out your expectations and next steps clearly. Most importantly, meet the deadlines that have been established and always respond to emails within 24hrs. If you cannot do that, put an out of office on that explains the delay in your response. Hands down this is my biggest challenge in the freelance space. Working with people who do not respond timely and effectively in their communication is frustrating and will absolutely deter working with you!

Have fun, you may have taken the leap to turn your passion in to a business but that shouldn't dull your creative sparkle with administrative headache's. It will make you better at what you do and ultimately land more opportunities to do what you are so great at!

photograph of me by Trish Mennell