Writers Life

Three Things Every Freelancer Needs to Have

So one aspect of one of my current jobs is scouting new talent. Some things I’ve noticed while scouting have been areas in which freelancers could improve. This also comes from personal experience as a current freelancer myself and a Social Media Manager. This isn’t an end-all-be-all of social media advice for freelancers just some thoughts I had that are potential areas of improvement for freelancers.

So first, there are three things I think every freelancer needs to have:

  1. Central Homepage
  2. Available Contact Information
  3. Accessible Portfolio

Notice I didn’t put “social media/twitter/facebook” on here. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s talk about homepages.

What is a “homepage” and what do I mean by “central page”. Well a homepage is basically your home base. It’s the one link you absolutely need that will connect any and all potential employers to your base of operations. It’ll be the page that says some basic information about yourself; what you do, who you are, what you’ve done, with all contact information and relevant social media links.

This page can be a static wordpress page, or it can be a Facebook page. It doesn’t have to be a website; it just has to have your information that connects to the next two items on the list. The point of a “homepage” is to be your home base. The place where if someone asks where they can find you, or when Twitter asks for your website, you can link too. Your homepage is important because it’s the foundation of your operations. Every freelancer has – or should have – a homepage.

Personally I recommend a static homepage so your information is always readily available to potential employers. My homepage is static, and it connects to my blog. If you check out the podcast network I’m apart of, DC TV Podcasts, you’ll notice their website also has a homepage that links to the networks various other outlets and services. Again, your “homepage” is your base of operations. The reason I recommend static pages is because they don’t move. They are a solid rock that displays all your information in one convenient location making it easier for potential employers to learn about you and what your skills are.

Next, you need to have available contact information. One consistent problem I’ve found when scouting for freelancers is there’s no available email address at which to contact them. If an employer can’t contact you, they won’t contact you and you just missed out on a potential job opportunity.

Some folks feel that some employers can direct message them on their Twitters, and yes this is a possibility. But it’s better to have an easily accessible email address. It’s more professional and cuts out a middle step (direct messaging through a social site) if you have your email available for contact. Twitter and Facebook can and have worked, but ultimately it’s best to have one working contact email.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have an available work email on your homepage. You are more likely to be contacted if you have this information readily available than if it’s hidden on one of your many social media platforms or just not made public.

If you’re worried about missing emails connect your email to your phone notifications. Have a private email for leisure, and a work email. I use GMAIL because you can make multiple accounts.

Finally, a portfolio. This is something every freelancer should look into building if you haven’t already. When building a portfolio address first what you are as a freelancer. If you are a writer, you’ll need specific outlets that carter to your brand of work. If you’re an illustrator looking to get into comics, you’ll need specific outlets that carter to best displaying your work.

This is where research comes in. Research your craft, research what your other colleagues are doing, research what you believe will work best for you. Don’t try to fit yourself into someone else’s shoes, wear what you’re most comfortable in.

Some freelancers are able to afford a beautiful website made just for them. Others can build their own. While others still can only afford free options. There’s no necessary right or wrong way to put yourself out there. The important thing is to have that information readily available, readable, and accurate.

My online portfolio
My online portfolio

Now I know this will be a question, because I left out a big elephant in this post: social media.

I’m also pretty sure you’ve heard both sides of the argument; social media will get you work but you have to be everywhere to get it, or social media is a huge waste of your time do it the old fashioned way.

I say that life is a series of balances; ultimately in my experiences social media can get you work, but it’s not a guarantee no matter how many social media platforms you use. Ultimately what does get you freelance work is hard work, a little luck, and networking.

I’m no millionaire who is making bank consulting on the internet, so perhaps my advice means little. However, in my experiences, this is what works.

So in the case of social media, no, you don’t have to be everywhere. In fact, being everywhere might be more harmful than productive for you in the long run. Social platforms take time to build, and they take effort to maintain.

Look at all these social media outlets as ask if you really need to be on all of them
Look at all these social media outlets as ask if you really need to be on all of them

Building an audience on any social media platform takes time, effort, and constant maintenance. Being everywhere at once can help up your visibility but it can also drain you faster and impact the overall quality of your posts. For those out there who can keep up with twenty platforms at once, good for you that’s fantastic. For those who can’t (like myself) there’s no shame in that either. When it comes to social media you just need one or two platforms that you’re really comfortable with.

I don’t believe the talk that Twitter, Facebook, etc won’t get you work. For me, Twitter has been a great source of work. For others (especially artists I’ve seen) Facebook and Tumblr have been good outlets. What’s most important is finding a platform you like and are comfortable with, and then spending the time to build it up into something of quality.

So this is what I feel every freelancer, in my experience, should have and needs. At least to start building a base for their brand and services. There is no 100% guaranteed way to unlocking the secrets of being a successful freelancer. Or if there is, I haven’t been able to find it, and I’ve done a lot of research. What I’ve found does work isn’t a one-shot trick, but a series of factors that all come down to a strong foundation. Having your information available is the first big step, then building up your audience.

I hope this post have been helpful to freelancers out there. You can read more of my thoughts (with bonus resources!) at my Storify.

 

 

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