Freelancing isn’t new, but sometimes the rapidly expanding number of these workers (because of a variety of factors) makes it feel like an option that’s only recently surfaced. And, the trend is only expected to continue going forward – one study even projected that 40 percent of the American workforce could be freelancing by 2020. But, whether you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer or not, there is a growing list of things that we can learn from the way this group of workers does business – tricks and tips and ways of thinking about things that could help workers in any profession. Here are a few things freelancers know that everyone would benefit from applying to their own lives and their own work.
- You have to believe in yourself – really.
It’s important to have confidence in yourself in order to build your career. When you work for an organization, their name and your title can do the talking for you, but when you’re self-employed, you have to generate this sense of professionalism and expertise all by yourself and then carry it around with you. So, freelancers tend to really believe in themselves deep down. That doesn’t mean that they brag or boast. Those who are truly confident don’t need to do that, and it wouldn’t help them professionally. Instead, they possess a quiet belief in themselves that allows them to take risks and aim high, an approach that would benefit any professional.
In addition to embracing a freelancer’s level of internal self-confidence, it’s also a good idea to think about doing something else this group is known for – making others aware of that value. Don’t keep your successes a secret; instead, let your bosses know what you’ve been up to and don’t be embarrassed to toot your own horn from time to time in front of key players. Of course, humility is a virtue worth embracing, but that doesn’t mean that you have to swallow your own accomplishments. Freelancers know (because it’s essential that they do in order for them to get work) that it’s important that others recognize their successes and their value.
- Being organized saves you time.
Without imposed structures (or support staff) to help keep documents, files, calendars, and so much else running smoothly, freelancers learn to get organized, all on their own. Taking the time to organize things properly actually saves time in the end. There is also a freedom inherent in this kind of work that allows these professionals to design and implement the strategies and structures that are best for them. Once you learn the processes that work best for you, it becomes easier and more gratifying to stay organized, and it will save you time in the long-run.
- It’s important to be able to say no.
Freelancers often take work when and where they can get it. Sometimes they’re overworked, and sometimes they’re wishing (and actively searching) for more jobs. However, even when they really need the money, freelancers know that you have to be able to say no to requests when they aren’t a good fit. For example, they might say no to work that is ethically opposed to their objectives or offers that ask them to extend beyond of their realm of expertise. By doing so, they actually preserve the integrity of their work, and will go on to freelance another day. The same should be true for any professional. Knowing where and when to draw the line with clients, coworkers, and even employers is an important skill, and it could earn you better jobs and pay down the road, even when it feels like a step backward in the moment.
- Everyone works differently.
Because of the independence and freedom they have to design their professional lives outside of the constructs of a regular 9-to-5 job, freelancers know that everyone works really differently. The methods and processes that work best for one individual could be professionally devastating to another. One might do their best work in the morning, while another prefers to hit the hardest tasks after lunch. Some like working in busy places, and others need quiet to do their best work. So, take the time to find the rhythms and practices that suit you best, and then implement those preferences into your own workday as much as possible.
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