Posts Tagged ‘ freelancer ’

Freelancing? Don’t knock it ’til you try it

My heart goes out to the class of 2009. Four years of grueling academic work and (if you were smart) at least one internship all for a piece of paper that probably arrived in the mail and entrance into a world made difficult by the old folks. That piece of paper was suppose to be the job stork delivering a beautiful bouncing career with benefits (“Mazel tov, it’s an Account Executive!”). But for many it’s just a reminder that soon those loan payments are going to be due.student in class

So what’s a young person to do now that they have a degree? Well…. you could make a very expensive paper airplane to fly around your room while you wait for a phone call about an interview you’re sure to get from all those resumes and carefully crafted cover-letters you sent out last week. Or you could take your life into your own hands and go freelance.

Being a freelancer can be scary, but once you get started it’s not so bad. There are so many questions: how much do I charge, am I good enough, how do I find projects, who hires freelance, etc.

What makes me such an expert? I’m not claiming to be an expert (I actually hate to hear people call themselves experts, gurus or mavens of anything), but what I am doing is telling you what worked for me. I’ve been a freelancer for three+ years now. At first I struggled so hard… so very hard. I interned repeatedly, worked for free too often and even had a couple clients refuse to pay me (get a contract before you do anything!). But I was getting experience the whole time.

That’s why I’ve have three job opportunities since February. Now I’m working as a full-time freelancer doing projects I love with the most awesome clients I could hope for. I partnered with the agency (<—these people are AWESOME) I interned with last semester for academic credit. Now I’m working freelance for them to bring in new projects while working on my own clients. And unfortunately many of my peers that graduated this month are having a hard time just getting interviews.

Freelancing is more than a career choice
…it’s a lifestyle at the very least. You can’t just do it. You have to commit to making freelancing work for you by living, eating and breathing the work you do. In a traditional career, the clock stops at 5. In freelancing the clock never really stops. The upside is a tremendous amount of freedom: work from anywhere that allows you to be connected, take a nap in the middle of the day or even have a conference call in your underwear (I don’t advise that over a video conference).

It’s about the niche
Getting a regular career means being a specialist of something, but as a freelancer it’s even more important to have a specific specialty, otherwise known as a niche. My niche has slowly evolved over the three years I’ve been doing it, but now I’m comfortably positioned as a freelance publicist and social media strategist (I tell a client’s story on and off-line while building a community and conversation on the web around their brand by strategically choosing the tactics to accomplish their goals).

Don’t stop learning just because you’re out of school
If you thought learning was over after graduation you’re wrong. Getting started as a freelancer requires so much research into pricing, trends in your niche, possible business models and many other things. You’re competing with businesses and other freelancers for work, so it’s even more important for you to be well educated about your industry and your client’s industry. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you think you know everything you need to know to be competitive. There’s always someone out there that can do it better than you and cheaper than you.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a freelancer forever. This recession is starting to let up; unemployment rates aren’t as bad as they were. When the recession is over, people will hire again, others will be promoted and the world will go round. But your bills are due now and soon your loans will be. Don’t let an awesome opportunity to experience being your own boss, having freedom in your career and adding more skills to your resume pass you by out of doubt or fear. Freelancing… don’t knock it ’til you try it.

If you work at an agency, have you hired a freelancer instead of a new employee? What are you looking for in recent grads that are freelancers? Let students and graduates know in the comments.

And anyone that has advice, please share.

ZM

Podcasts Every Budding PRo Should Listen To

Podcasts are awesome.  Why?  Free.  Entertaining.  Educational.  Informative.

The best and worst aspect of podcasts is that ANYONE with a mic and 5 minutes to spare can make one.  I’ve wasted so much time when I go on a podcast-exploration binge subscribing, listening, deleting and unsubscribing from useless podcasts I’ve downloaded in my zeal to discover audial (sometimes visual) stimulation.   But my heart races and a smile crawls across my face when I find a podcast that blends just the right amount of music, sound effects, industry jargon and infotainment that makes for a fantastic listening (sometimes viewing) experience.

It’s taken me all of an excruciating semester to compile a “perfect” list.  It’s still growing, but I have enough to give a list of “Must Listen To Podcasts for the Budding PRofessional.”

Here it goes:

  1.  Quick & Dirty Tips– Like a $2 hooker my favorite podcasts are quick & dirty.  And much like a $2 hooker, each podcast lasts for two to five minutes and a listener walks away with a surprise.  But instead of a burning sensation, listeners of QDT hopefully learn something.  My favorites: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, Modern Manners Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life, Get-It-Done Guy’s Tips for Getting Things Done, Legal Lad’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life, The Digital Marketer’s Tips for Building Your Business, Sales Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Getting the Deal Done, Make-It-Green Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for an Earth Friendly Life and The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills. You can find a full list of all the Quick and Dirty podcasts (which include a podcast for mothers and healthy living) at their website.
  2. National Public Radio– So what if you can’t listen to your favorite 5 pm show because of happy hour… I mean studying. Staying current is as easy as hitting the “subscribe button” in the iTunes store.  You can listen to Terry Gross in all her glory, hear fresh news on business and enjoy INSANELY interesting, but bizarre developments in science (did you know there is a fungus that creates pure diesel?).
  3. Freelancer’s Unite!!!– From the creators and contributors of FreelanceSwitch, this podcast deals with everything freelance.  I feel like I have an intimiate relationship built with the hosts of Freelance Radio because they are so down to earth, real and practical.  If you’re not convinced freelancing means anything to you as a college student, stay tuned for my post on freelancing being the new internship… especially in a down economy.
  4. PR (Boot) Camp– PR Camp is a video podcast where host Kathe Stanton discusses issues related to PR (mostly media related): leveraging media coverage, what exactly a media alert is, tips on writing features and creating media room info.  The shows average two to three minutes so PR Camp is especially great while you’re waiting for a cronically late professor.

What are your favorite podcasts?  Do you listen to any of these podcasts and if you do what do you think of them?  I would swear by most of these and encourage you to check them out. 

ZM