April 17th marked my 1-year anniversary as a full time freelancer. This month marks my 2-year anniversary as any kind of freelancer. During this time I've learned a lot of stuff that may or may not be useful to you.
1. The easy way is usually not the best way. Chances are good that if nothing in your career ever excites you, scares you, intimidates you or challenges you then you are doing it wrong.
2. Not all writers are created equal. You are probably better than some writers and worse than others. You may have a great voice for some work, and a terrible voice for other work. You might know a lot about some things and nothing about other things.You may be able to improve in some of these areas with hard work and study. You may not. Either way, it's not necessarily a career-breaker.
3. Not everyone is going to succeed. Don't feel guilty if you are one of the writers who does.
4. You need freelance writing friends. I know there are some people out there who are lurking. They read the blogs, work from home, write for a living--but don't make friends with other freelance writers. I think this is a huge mistake. My freelance writing friends are great sounding boards, terrific resources, awesome motivators and they understand my triumphs and setbacks like almost no one else.
5. Your mistakes will not make or break your career like you think they will.
6. Don't let fear rule you/ Good enough is never enough. If you are afraid and/or if you allow your career to stagnate you will never know what you could have been, what you were capable of and how far your career could have gone. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, take risks, and really challenge yourself. If you let fear stop you or if you settle for "good enough" then that's probably the best you will do. Imagine knowing that the career you have right now is the best you will ever, ever do. You will never get better clients, better gigs, better bylines, better money, better fun, etc. Sad, huh? Is that what you really want out of your life?
7. Highlight what you want your potential client to focus on. On my portfolio, resume and cover letter, I focus on my licenses and experience in the financial industry. I do not focus on the fact that I have yet to finish college. There are almost no deal breakers in this business--you just need to adjust your marketing message so your potential clients pay attention to what you want them to see. Kind of like how I always show too much cleavage to distract from my love handles.
8. Don't be afraid of your voice.
9. You have to create the career you want not just by dreaming about it, but by deciding what steps to take to get it and then doing them there steps. Your career does not make itself--you have to make it. And proactively, I might add.
10. There are no secrets, no formulas, no gurus, no superstars, no guarantees. There is just you, time, your keyboard, your motivation and your determination. And even that is not a recipe for success.
So how about you? What things have you learned?