Banish One-size-fits-all Thinking to Boost Your Freelance Biz

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I’ve been hard at work over the past months penning my upcoming book, When Talent Isn’t Enough: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined. Writing is every bit as educational as being taught–I’ve learned so many strategies and heard so many lesson-holding stories. Armed with all of this information, my next few posts will relate to what I cover in the book due out in early 2013.

A lot of the creative professionals featured in the book spoke about the usual hardships: organizing and understanding accounting, generating leads and forging positive client relations.

When it came time to discuss networking, opinions were mixed. Some creatives say that networking is key because it drives referrals for their business. Others contend that it’s a waste of time and money and they use other methods to get the word out.

Funny, the exact same thing happened when we honed in on legal matters–some use lawyers and some go it on their own. Cold calling? Some love it and others loathe it. (Same went for taxes, but I don’t think anyone reported enjoying that process!)

In fact, most of the topics in the book lead me to the same conclusion: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being a successful freelancer. While the stories are great and people’s opinions are valuable, I couldn’t say “here’s how to do this” and instead could only “recommend options.” That’s good, I think–it leaves the book wide open to interpretation.

Become Comfortable in Your Freelancing Skin

Another thought that I carried through after exploring all of the topics was that solo professionals (or solo-pros, as I like to call them) need to become comfortable in their own skin–enough to figure out what works and doesn’t work for them. Most of the respondents agree that this is only accomplished over time.

I can hear the rookie freelancers out there in a collective sigh.

But it’s true–time is the teacher. You just have to be open to see what works for you. If you secure business by attending a monthly networking lunch, go ahead and order the BLT. Has hiring a collections agent helped or do you prefer a “patented” Kristen Fischer Drive-by (listen to the podcasts)? Do you prefer to put rates on your website or drive prospects to call for more information? It’s up to you!

Whatever you do as a freelancer, it needs to come from an authentic place that plays on your strengths. Don’t go for cookie-cutter-esque business practices–come up with your own. Try them out and over time, discern what helps you and what you can do without. Hopefully hearing from other freelancers gives you insights and ideas along with much-needed support. Otherwise, you’re on your own–and that can feel fantastic when you embrace it.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by leeser.

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