The ideal that surrounds becoming a freelancer can seem very optimistic: you get to work in a space that is comfortable to you, work hours that suit you, and hey, sometimes you don’t even need to step foot outside of your house!
‘But that’s not your real job. What do you really do?’
All too often, people who would never consider freelance as a way of life, may decide to offer their own advice; the type that indirectly, yet very directly, tells you that being a freelance writer isn’t a proper job, and that it’s more of a hobby than a more ‘respectable’ 9 to 5.
However, who says that your hobby, your love for writing, drawing, designing, or whatever you’re most passionate about can’t be your full time job? Freelance doesn’t mean sitting around waiting for the opportunity to knock on your door (or more likely, email) and offer you your first gig. More often than not, freelancers are grafting, sending emails, writing till their finger tips are raw just to find that one opportunity that will get the snowball avalanching.
I called myself a writer.
No one took me seriously until I started believing it myself. The hints that this was just a phase, and in the mean time, I should be applying for ‘real jobs’ sometimes took a toll. I kept assuming that I was an aspiring author, a struggling writer, and that writing would stay as simply a hobby.
You’re a writer if you write, not if you are published or make money. It’s that simple.
So I changed my email signature, told friends and family, built a resume and cover letter to send out to clients, and whenever someone asked me what I did, I would tell them this: I’m a writer.
Not a marketing professional or that I worked at a software company, a writer.
The starting point is simply admitting to oneself that you do have the talent within yourself, and that someone out there needs your skills I organized myself as if I, Naila Missous, was a small business and began to build my platform. Your email becomes your best friend, and I would send message after message from my laptop and mobile phone wherever I was. I would offer my writing and translation services, and be confident in selling myself.
Of course, initially there are more setbacks than congratulatory emails coming your way, and your sent box may seem like throwing a letter in a bottle into the depths of the ocean: a sure fire way of never getting a response. The key is to have plenty of patience and perseverance.
I connected with others.
The internet has fast become the platform for freelancers to publicly show off, so to speak. And why not? If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Writing and then expecting a payment is like running a race and expecting a medal. You still have to beat out the others around you. For me personally, it was all about getting my name out there. I found websites that I could write for, pitch my ideas to, or send an already written draft, and I would play the waiting game. At first, you can get frustrated with a few initial low paying gigs, but you should think about it this way: you are practicing your skill and talent, and it can lead to higher paying jobs.
Steadily you begin to build a portfolio as well as a reputation. Work sometimes finds you, rather than the other way around. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth and raving reviews. If you care about your work, you’ll do your best to deliver it to the highest standard and the rest takes care of itself.
Websites like Nabbesh offer you a platform to engage with other like-minded freelancers as well as a place to showcase your talents, whatever they may be. Nabbesh initially attracted me because of its positive attitude towards freelancers: it offers freelancers of any skill to advertise their talent in an easy to use profile. The layout is clean and legible, and searching for jobs is easy.
I’m able to let future clients see my experience and I am able to keep it updated. From my language skills, journalism posts to blogs, all of them are kept up-to-date and are easily searchable.
Nabbesh allows you to market your skill set and carve out your niche. That way, you’ll only be contacted by those who specifically want your talents, and the reverse is true when you’re on the search for new ventures. The key is to customize your proposals; each client is unique and your response rate increases when you address the client’s needs and wants and how you are the best candidate for the job.
This was my journey to freelancing, and I hope I’ll inspire you to begin yours as well.
Naila Missous is a writer and translator of Arabic, French and English. Find her tweeting at @nsabrinem or hire her on Nabbesh: http://www.nabbesh.com/profile/36370