January 10, 2011
Freelancing in the New Economy
10 Employment and Income Producing Ideas for Creative Freelancers.
By Lawrence Jordan
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, tentatively titled: If I'm So Good at What I Do, Why Does Business Stink So Bad?: How To Stop Surviving and Start Thriving as a Creative Professional in the New Economy.
I'm not going to mince words here, times are tough and this so called "recession" we're in SUCKS. (Feels more like a depression, but hey, who are we to argue with the geniuses who quantify these things in Washington and on Wall Street?) So if finding a job has been difficult, you're not alone, there are many others out there hurting just like you. I'm not going to list the reasons for our economic malaise as we've heard them all before. What I AM going to talk about are ideas and strategies to help you get your next job.
Finding a gig of any type in these times is difficult even for the most talented among us. In an already competitive field, the competition has gotten even tougher. The cold, hard truth is, digital technology has been a two-sided sword. Yes, it has democratized many fields that once had tremendous barriers to entry, but it has also flooded the job market with freelancers of every skill level, type and price.
At the heart of the problem is that as creative people, most of us loathe the idea of selling ourselves (or anything else for that matter). It seems self-serving, (which it is, but everyone's got to eat) and if done improperly can make you come off like a real cheese-ball. However, the reality is, if you want to earn a living in the new economy you need, at the very least, to establish yourself as a professional in your particular field or craft. By establishing this presence and letting people know who you are and what you do, you clearly distinguish yourself from your competition.
There are a variety of ways to do this. Many have been born out of our new economy and others have been around for eons. Utilizing both old and new methods is very effective in attracting new customers and broadening your client base.
The following is a list of 10 techniques you can use right away to get started finding that coveted position or simply, more project work as a freelancer.
1. Build Yourself a Website - OK, this will seem extraordinarily obvious to some and utterly useless to others, but today, creating a place for potential clients to find you on the internet is somewhat akin to having a high school diploma. You NEED one. There are dozens of ways to get this done, from free to incredibly expensive. Get out there, do some research, find out what's a good fit for YOU and get something up on the web. Wordpress.com is a good place to start.
2. Build Yourself a Business Blog - This is related to tip number one. I assume you're really, good at something, right? Well it's time you started tooting your own horn about it. Gone are the days where a person could get discovered on their talent alone. You might be the best ________ (fill in the blank) in the world but if only a few people know it you will find yourself with a depressingly large amount of downtime. Leverage what you are expert at. Publish tips, techniques and examples of your experience on a blog, and show the world what you're made of. This technique of letting people know who you are can pay off handsomely.
3. Create a Business Page on Facebook - Did you know that 47% of all small US businesses now have a Facebook page? You can piss and moan and say it's cheesy, but you want to know something? It's now one of the most powerful ways to communicate your value to a huge potential customer base, and it's an easy and cheap way to quickly launch your new prospecting strategy.
4. Create a Linked In Business Profile - Linked In is essentially Facebook for business. You create a profile and list your education, expertise and accomplishments. There are also many networking groups on the site that can provide access to people you wouldn't find elsewhere. There are both free and paid versions of the service so visit the site and decide what's best for you.
5. Create a Business Twitter Account - Again, don't bust my chops about this. Twitter is one of the most revolutionary tools to come along in years that gets you in front of customers, clients and other potential business partners. Once you "get it" (and believe me you will eventually see the light about Twitter) you will wonder why you didn't start sooner. Let me put it this way; Using the right, "business-like" approach with a Twitter account is like finding yourself in the biggest, virtual, business networking session you will ever be in. Once you get rolling you will be AMAZED at the contacts and relationships that can develop.
6. Build Your "List" (or start one) - Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Freelancers! You MUST start collecting contact information from any and all potential clients. Many experts believe this to be the number one action to generate more business. There are dozens of companies providing this type of service on the web, and it's a statistically proven fact that the more you stay "top of mind" with your customers, the more likely they will think of YOU the next time they your type of services as opposed to the competition.
7. Create a Direct Mailing - Old school, but tried and true. A lot of clients delete much of their email (or have someone else deal with it) and unless you're a known quantity, even the wittiest subject lines won't get them to open and read. Creating a postcard with information about your latest work or accomplishment is a great way to get a potential clients attention. When finishing a project, dropping a note to make them aware of your availability is also a great way to keep you fresh in their mind.
8. Create a Referral Culture - Creating a referral culture for your business essentially means asking your satisfied clients for a recommendation. If you did a great job and they loved your work, why not? Be judicious, look and wait for a good moment and then ask them if they could recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Percentage-wise, client referrals are a very high-converting business generation method. If you can get a testimonial in print, on audio or video, even better.
9. Learn to Manage Your Time - This is a biggie. Whether we've been diagnosed with it or not, as artists and creative people, most of us have a bit of ADD. Yes there are the exceptions, seemingly normal and balanced people who are incredibly talented but they are rare. Most of us are nucking futz. As such, we need to train ourselves to manage our most valuable asset, our time.
10. Develop a Habit of Continually Educating Yourself - I'm lucky because this has been an obsession of mine since I was very young. But conversely, I never did well in school. I have a slight case of dyslexia, a bit of ADD and never clicked with the traditional education system. I did however, pursue my passions and fiercely devoured everything about them I could get my hands on. This habit continues to this day and I'm constantly on the prowl to further my education. Whether it's a new version of software or deeper understanding of the topics above, if you want to stay competitive and not fall "behind the curve", It's critical you continually gain, update and broaden your knowledge.
In closing, it's very important to ask yourself the question; Why am I doing all this? You need to find out what makes your engine chug along like it does all day? (and I'm not talking about caffine) What is your purpose? It's critical you articulate and continually hone the answer to this question. Yes, money is great, but I'm pretty sure most of us are in it for something more. Personally, I do it for my family; my wife, my boys and myself. I also do it for the things I feel strongly and passionate about in this life; Helping those in need, helping others reach their full potential, protecting our planet, making our communities a better place to live. Sounds corny when I read it back, but for me it simply comes down to how I was raised, the things I've learned and what I believe in.
For the first part of my working life I rented out my time for what most would consider a healthy premium. As a result, I put little limitations on what my employers could ask of me. This often resulted in missed special occasions, postponed or cancelled vacations and less time with my family. Lately, I've become much more protective of my time, having realized that it really is our most precious asset.
Create a core set of values for your business and yourself. Write them down and stick to them as best you can. Be prepared to work very hard, and be persistent through difficult times. Proceed in this way and chances are you will see success in your endeavors like you never imagined.
About the Author
Lawrence Jordan, A.C.E. is a pioneer in the field of creating dynamic media using a variety of digital tools. In 1991 he worked on the first long-format project to be edited digitally in Hollywood using the Avid Media Composer. He went on to edit the pilot episode and first season of the highly acclaimed television series, NYPD Blue, for which he received both EMMY and ACE Eddy nominations. Jordan served as an adjunct professor at AFI's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies, and created and taught Digital Editing of Long-Format Projects for UCLA Extension. He has been a speaker for Apple and Avid and has written numerous articles on digital film and video technology for DV, MacWorld, American Cinematographer and the Editors Guild Magazine. He's a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the American Cinema Editors (ACE) and the Motion Picture Editors Guild.
In 1999 he created, 2-pop - The Final Cut Pro Information Site, a social network and internet community dedicated to providing information about Apple's Final Cut Pro. 2-pop quickly became the de facto place on the net for information about the rapidly growing "desktop video" revolution. In 2001 2-pop was acquired by Creative Planet Inc. and continues to be a leading Internet resource on FCP to this day. He now runs JODADA, a digital media strategy and consulting company publishes Hollywood Reinvented - The Network for Digital Filmmakers, and one of the first websites to deliver HD video, as it's primary content. You can reach him at: lj (at) hollywoodreinvented (dot) com
copyright © Lawrence Jordan 2011
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