Being a freelancer can sometimes feel like you’re stranded on a deserted island. And it’s up to you and only you to figure out how to paddle outta there.
But the reality is, there are a slew of tools and teams and tips out there to help you navigate the shark-infested waters.
When I started my freelance consulting business, I didn’t know where to begin. How do I find new clients? How should I track my time and bill those clients? How in the world should I put together a new client proposal? Is anyone else in the same boat?
YES. There are lots of us freelance consultants and solopreneurs out here—more and more every day, actually.
And there are a ton of helpful resources out here too. Here are my must-haves and tricks of the trade:
Find Your Tribe
When I first started, my good friend Heidi Fiedler of helloheidifiedler.com wisely suggested I check out the Being Boss podcast and Facebook group. This podcast for creative entrepreneurs has led me to SO many gems and discoveries, from software I’ve adapted, to tips on owning your expertise and scheduling, work/life balance, and everything in between. It was incredibly helpful to know I was not alone in this game, and the support from the online community is amazing.I also joined the Freelancers Union. It’s free, and there are links to benefits and discounts for freelancers, as well as job postings, networking events, and great articles.
Keep Your Skills Up to Date
Podcasts: Whatever your area of expertise is, I guarantee you there’s a great podcast out there about it where you can learn something new. For me and mine, I love Being Boss (see above), and the newly released Season 2 of Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons.
Blogs: Likewise. Everyone’s got a blog these days, haven’t you heard? There’s one out there for you. I love Quick Sprout by Neil Patel for helpful and researched-back marketing tips, and I like checking in with the Bad Yogi for all things yoga.
Publications: For my part, I subscribe to Chief Content Officer from the Content Marketing Institute. It’s super helpful for marketing/content folks like me. I also follow AdWeek and Seth Godin on social media, and am always asking my friends and associates who THEY are following (see #5).
Get Your Tools
I am in love with Paydirt, which allows me to track my time and invoice clients seamlessly. My inner task master loves Asana for project management, Canva for social media graphics, Iconosquare for tracking Instagram metrics, and Pexels and Unsplash for free and unusual stock images. There are new tools out there ALL the time. Please refer to #2; you will already know about these fancy new tools because YOU stay on top of your game. 🙂
Go Get Some Work
Flexjobs is a great place to find listings in all industries for part- or full-time work from home listings. All are vetted, so even though you have to pay to join, I think it’s worth it if you’re looking for a long-term position that allows you to work from home. I’m often asked by fellow writers and editors how to find job postings, and I tell them to look on social media! There are Facebook groups out there that exist solely to list legit, posted job ops. Just search for it! If you’re a writer/editor like me, you can also join the Editorial Freelance Association and get emails with job listings as they are posted. The annual fee is nominal, and they are a great resource for comparing standard rates, educational workshops, conferences, and more.
Keep Meeting New People
Network, network, network. Despite all these job listings I have access to, most of my clients come from word-of-mouth or people I actually meet at networking events. People are so much more likely to hire you after they’ve met you in person and can tell you know your stuff. Network After Work has events nationally, or check with some of your tribe (see #1) to see what groups they belong to—or start your own!
There you go: Tribe, Skills, Tools, Jobs and Networking.
All you need to succeed. Oh, and one more thing:
Community is key.
Is there nobility in doing it alone? I don’t think so.
And here’s the straight up truth. You shouldn’t do it alone.
Sharing resources, knowledge and tips of the trade is really the name of the game. So if you can’t find your tribe, create your own! I was recently invited to join a group of lovely lady entrepreneurs and it’s amazing. Everyone brings different skills to the table, and we can all help each other out.
For my fellow freelancers out there, I’d love to hear what must-have tools and tips you would add to this toolkit? And for those of you just starting out or not yet freelancing, what are you grappling with? How can I help? Leave me a comment below and let me know.