As a freelancer, it can be easy to get set into the mindset that you’re an employee. This can be particularly common when you have a couple of clients who make up the bulk of your work over a long period of time. However, it’s important to remember that you are not just another worker; you are running your own independent business. Just like any enterprise, you’ll find that you tend to be most successful when you regularly apply attention to how you can improve your approach to your business.
That doesn’t mean to say that you should discard your well-honed best practices, or move away from your valued clientele. Rather, it’s more about finding ways to expand your horizons and present yourself as an innovative figure in your field. Not to mention that, with a 22% growth of freelancers in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020, it’s vital that you evolve in order to remain competitive in your field. Above all else, it’s about exploring what can reignite the drive and ambition that can often ebb away over the years, and prevent you from achieving your full potential.
Let’s take a few moments to examine how you can enhance your entrepreneurial spirit as a freelancer. Where can you focus some of your energy and attention in order to boost your practices, direction, and confidence?
Diversify Your Skills
Having a specialist niche can be a positive step; many freelance writers make a good living by knowing their area of expertise and sticking to it. You’ve honed your knowledge, built a reputation over a number of years in the field, and continue to capitalize on it. That said, it’s always worth examining how you can diversify your skillset.
One of the reasons that some writers fail to progress in the way they’d like is because they don’t develop entrepreneurial skills. Going back to school — whether full-time or in your spare hours — to gain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be useful here. This is less a qualification that you’ll be using to get jobs, and more an opportunity to upskill in those areas that the ongoing success of your business relies upon. The financial literacy you gain during this time can help you avoid the most common issues that cause many entrepreneurs to fail. Not to mention that this kind of education tends to be instrumental in helping you build networking confidence and operational efficiency that can give you a competitive edge.
It’s also important to be cognizant of how the business landscape is developing, and how this affects your ability to offer relevant content. While traditional long-form writing is still in demand, you may also be able to provide additional marketing value by educating yourself about search engine optimization (SEO) practices that you can apply to your work. If you specialize in writing technical manuals, it can also be worth taking a course in video scriptwriting and training design so that you’re able to offer more comprehensive, multimedia packages to clients.
Connect with Others
One of the distinct dangers of being a freelancer is the potential for isolation. Sure, some writers find themselves more productive when separating themselves from the distractions of other people, but taking this too far can also be to the detriment of your career. Making time and effort to connect to other human beings can give a boost to your entrepreneurial spirit.
An effective way to do this is through networking — even if the very thought sends chills through your soul! Attend conferences, workshops, and training seminars, and get talking to people. At the most basic level reaching out can get your talents seen, and open potential work opportunities. But it’s more than that; by forging genuine relationships with others in your industry, whether these are other writers or potential clients, you help to make your business more robust. You gain confidantes that you can bounce ideas off of to spur innovation, mutual sources of advice to help you deal with failure and when things get tough, and contacts that can help you to expand your circle even further.
It’s also worth considering that making connections doesn’t have to occur in the interpersonal realm. Finding business people whose words and ideas help spur you onward is a vital form of connection. Freelancing can be lonely and challenging, and having a range of inspiring, thought-provoking, even funny quotes from fellow entrepreneurs can help to gain positive perspectives on your business and motivate you toward action. Create images of these quotes for your desktop, make a folder of TED talks and YouTube videos, stick important phrases to your monitor so that you can engage with each of these whenever you need to give your entrepreneurial spirit a bump.
Get More Creative
When you get stuck in the same old routines and processes, this can be detrimental to your entrepreneurial mindset. It’s difficult to be innovative if you’re unable to step outside of the norm and explore ideas that can help you fill gaps in the market that others haven’t considered. As a freelance writer, you work with your creative skill sets — you should be extending these to be more creative about your business.
Take a different approach to how you plan projects or shift your business direction. If you’re used to making lists, sometimes it can be helpful to break out of that method and use visual tools that encourage idea exploration. Mind mapping is one of the more effective ways of achieving this; you take a central theme and branch off from it to create subtopics. Perhaps most important about this approach is that you don’t have to just write — you can doodle concepts, attach inspirational images, assign colors that suggest moods. The idea is to follow your curiosity on a subject while providing a highly visual document that you can hone into a formal plan later.
Unless you think of your freelance writing career as a business rather than a job, you can find yourself spinning your wheels, and unable to progress. This doesn’t serve you or your clients. Take time to consider whether you are utilizing the best version of your skillset, and make efforts to reach out to others. This, alongside a more creative approach to your business, can help ensure you are better equipped to thrive as both a freelancer and an entrepreneur.