Rachel, I’m thinking of going freelance
The writer wants to know how to go about drumming up clients
August 24, 2012
I have three young children, and I'm tired of missing out on their milestones while I slave away at work. My husband just got a promotion, and we've agreed his raise sets us up so that I can work part-time while I stay home with the kids. Ideally I'd like to find some freelance gigs to do at home, but I have no idea how to get them. Can you help? Sign me Freelance Franny
There's a lot of things to consider when you're thinking of freelancing but there's one big one. It's whether you are the sort of person who will be happy working on your own.
Some people truly blossom as freelancers, delighting in rounding up new business and working with new people, and they're content to slog through the lesser parts of the work, such as collecting on slow-pays and the occasional client who skips out on payment altogether.
Those are rare people.
Most of us like the comfort of a steady paycheck and the familiar faces of office life, as much as we may complain about the inconvenience of commuting and not spending enough time with our families.
Such people will never be happy as freelancers, and they should never even consider it.
You need to determine which camp you belong in.
If you do decide to go freelance, finding business is a business, and the most important part of your business.
The best way, and certainly the way to start off, is to exploit your existing business relationships, starting with your own agency.
Your supervisors know your work, and no less important you know your supervisors. You know what they like, what they don't like, and you can deliver to their expectations better than any outsider.
Talk to them about how you can set up a schedule of freelance work that meets their needs.
If you are a good negotiator, you'll be able to come up with an arrangement that saves them money and ensures you a steady flow of work and a steady income.
At this point, you could widen your selling efforts but I would hold off a bit until you've got your initial arrangement in place and working.
You really need to work through a few months of freelancing to learn how much you can accomplish working from home as you take care of your three children.
You could well thrive, get all your work done before deadline, and find yourself with more free time with your children than you expect.
But that's not likely. More likely you'll find yourself working late into the night to get the work in on time until you master the art of scheduling.
The last thing you want is to disappoint your very first client—your old agency—by failing to deliver on time.
The good thing to know about freelancing is that as you master issues like scheduling, your reputation will grow on its own, and you will find work coming to you.
Fact is, good freelancers are pretty rare, and when there is a good one out there, agencies will talk them up to others they know in the business.
Finding a great freelancer is like finding a great restaurant. Word spreads.
That sort of good buzz is far more effective at bringing in new business than any form of advertising. It also doesn't cost you a dime or take up hours of your time.
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