Freelance Does Not Mean Free!
Our dream job is not always the first job we get out of college or the second or the third. And that’s OK! In the mean time you should be fine tuning your skills and getting better at what you are good at. If you do not know what you are good just yet that is also OK! Begin attending conferences, networking events and reaching out to people you know. Another option is to freelance and build a portfolio that shows what you are capable of. But do understand that freelancing does not always mean free. Yes there are such things as passion projects and pro bono contributions, but understand your worth, and added value so when the time does come to be compensated you know what fee you can and should charge. Here are the few gems I learned during my experience as a freelancer that could help you make better choices and avoid some of the pitfalls.
I was first introduced to the idea of freelancing during my summer internship at MTV Tr3s where I worked in the Integrated Marketing department. My supervisor was very talented, a hard worker and had been with Viacom for years. As our relationship developed she was comfortable enough to share some of her gripes as a full time freelancer. One I could remember was that at any given moment her position could be terminated. There was this sense of insecurity. On the other hand she came and went as she pleased. Her schedule was flexible and she was doing what she loved. I did not think too much of it at the time what challenges were faced being a freelancer.
Fast-forward two years later, I graduated college and a sorority sister of mine had a fashion and lifestyle website that was picking up traction. At that time I was not absolutely sure what I wanted to do with my career and so I pitched a beauty column. I would write 3 posts a week on product reviews and recaps on beauty events attended. It was great until expense became an issue. At this time I was not familiar with a price sheet. Initially I seen this as an opportunity to begin building my brand and get my name out there. As I contributed more consistently and networked at the events I covered, I began getting offers to do other writing assignments and side projects.
This is where I encountered my first hand experience with freelance work. It was a nightmare. Freelance instantly became this whole other animal I was not properly introduced to. From not being taken serious and receiving invoices months later to learning the hard way that you do not move forward until a contract is presented with specifics on what deliverables are to be completed. It was truly a learning experience. In today’s saturated economy where it seems that jobs are scarce and the cost of living continue to increase, having an extra gig or two is becoming a norm. Freelancing offers the ability to sustain a more comfortable lifestyle by earning extra income doing things you’re passionate about or happen to be really good at. Organizations such as the Freelancers Union and are crucial to the advocacy of independent workers and to assist in educating on the resources that are afforded to you as a freelancer.
Here is a great resource guide provided by Pro Start Me: 100 Essential Resources for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers
How are your experiences as a freelancer? What are some suggestions you have for other freelancers? Lessons learned? Share with us in the comment section below.