Work as a Freelancer

It’s been over a year since I started freelancing and time has flown by in the most enjoyable of fashions. Work has been good and financially I hit my 12 month target — nothing specific or special; enough to get by. I didn’t expect to match my London salary nor have I but all balanced out I’m doing well enough.

Client work has been steady and I have a couple of stand out portfolio pieces ready to show for my efforts: King’s Transfer and Uwe Wittwer. I’ve also had plenty of time for self-initiated projects: dbushell.com and Tales. For the most part front-end development has been my bread and butter. I’d like to have blogged more frequently but I’d rather wait for inspiration to strike than to force a schedule.

To-date most of my work has come from enquiries. That is to say, I haven’t gone looking directly for jobs. I feel that needs to change. I need to be more proactive.

Thinking Proactively

To survive on enquiries alone sounds like a wonderful position. Some may call this lucky but I believe it’s down to hard work. I’ve built up a reputable online presence blogging and otherwise contributing to the industry. I credit these efforts in large to why I was hired full-time in the past.

My conference talk last year at Responsive Day Out happened to coincide with the start of my new career path and undoubtedly had a big impact on the months following.

The problem is I haven’t attended a conference since Brighton — only a handful of small meet-ups. To be honest, I find it difficult to justify the ticket & travel costs for the big conferences. I don’t believe I’m personally going to take away enough value. That’s no disrespect to speakers, I just feel I can stay sharp making use of other resources.

I am hugely appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had to talk on stage, I’m just not sure it’s for me… but maybe I can / should be persuaded more often? Regardless, I need to value opportunities to “network” more. To get to know fellow freelancers and agencies. It’s hard to quantify the value of networking but I’m sure I’m missing out on something. If I’m not getting out there how will I ever know?

Earlier today I tweeted:

freelancers — any tips / resources on proactively acquiring work? (as opposed to waiting for enquires)

The response was excellent.

James Young reminded me: Make sure people actually know you’re looking. This compliments much of the other advice. Make sure I’m speaking to people. There are no secrets or shortcuts. It requires a lot of effort.

Starting today I’m adopting a new policy.

Rather than focusing on projects I’ve already started I will ask myself every Monday: what will I do this week to improve my business going forward? — whether it’s ‘attend a meet-up’, ‘search job listings’, or simply ‘tweet availability’ — I’m going to make a positive action. I’m going to starting building the cumulative effect of hard work from a proactive perspective.


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