Top Five Tips from One Freelancer to the Other

This is a guest post by Zainab Mansoor, a freelancer journalist and contributor to various local and international publications. She is an equally doting mom and strives to strike a perfect balance every day.

Contrary to popular belief, freelancing or the freelance industry is a comprehensive order. There are clear do’s and don’ts in the business that should adhered to, but it differs from person to person, experience to experience. Below are a few of my personal tips to all freelancers out there, pitching for work or otherwise.

1- Let not your missives speak. Written letter with tall orders are so clichéd these days – Avoid them completely. Share your profile, portfolio and your list of strengths in which you excel or wish to excel. Instead of words, be dexterous in work.

2- Association is key. Keep contact with your previous clients. Stay in touch through social mediums for repeat work or referrals.

3- Avoid baring your desperation. If there is a dearth of projects up your sleeve, look at alternate avenues for work. Desperation can make people go all funny and do things they may regret a while later. Don’t under-rate your work or its value by offering work at substantial rates. Offering reasonable pricing for repeat clients make sense but ridiculing your profile is a different game altogether.

4- Respect thy privacy. Projects may or may not contain confidential company and employee information. Irrespective, avoid discussing project or work related details with associates, family or friends. Let the details stay locked on a workstation.

5- Sense of Humor, hold on tight. Do not let circumstances get to you! There may be white and black days, highs and lows, pleasant and not so pleasant criticism. Hang in there and lay supine, facing the sky. Crack a joke or two while you’re at it!

Have you found these tips useful? Let Zainab know and make sure to follow her on twitter  @zzainabmansoor!

What Bosses Want

By: Kathy Shalhoub

I spoke to the General Manager of a medium-sized company today who regularly hires freelancers for various projects as needed. I was curious to know what are the key attributes that bosses look for in hiring freelancers.

It was no big surprise that in addition to them being qualified, the top three attributes on Jack’s list were reliability, thoroughness and punctuality.

He explained that when companies hire freelancers, they usually do so because they have a rush job that their regular employees just don’t have time to do. They look for someone who is reliable because they need to be sure that the job will be done in time and to the specifications given.

Because the companies pay a premium to freelancers over existing employees and there is a real sense of urgency for the project to be completed, there is no time for too much discussion and they expect the work to be completed on time.

“We need to know that they can deliver,” Jack told me, “so strong references are a must.”

Jack continued to explain that he often looks at the portfolio of work to be more at ease not only with their qualifications, but to be sure of their actual output.

Communication skills, both the spoken and the listening, have to be impeccable. “With your own employees you have the luxury of time and availability to make sure that your message is understood, but with freelancers, you have the one or two meetings to make it clear what it is you need. “

Jack’s final words were about his fears of freelancers. “I worry about freelancers when they start making excuses for not delivering or when they ask for information too late for them to complete the project on time.”

So reliability, thoroughness, punctuality, communication skills, planning skills and a good portfolio is all you need to gain Jack’s trust!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

In the Internet We Trust

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Photo of: Bob Dylan

Too many of us have lost the ability to trust ourselves these days. We ask doctors, friends, and family for their opinions, we look up facts and figures on the Internet and in books, and every time there’s a new suggestion on a blog or in a magazine, we’re happy to give it a shot whether we’re convinced or not.

Instead of using these resources as backup or support, we rely on them to help us figure out what it is that we think and feel and we’re happy to mold our personalities into whatever society, our peers, our life coaches or our bosses require of us. We forget that all these people are also humans with beliefs, values and opinions that steer their judgment. We spend so much time listening to the world around us that we forget to listen to ourselves.

When I became a new parent, I wanted to do everything right, so I went out, bought a ton of books, subscribed to 15 mother and baby websites and read through everything I could get my hands on. Which is great because I educated myself on all the information that is out there. But then every time my kid did something I would run to the books to see what to do. I completely forgot that there’s a person inside me that has her own opinions and perhaps a maternal instinct too.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “Self-trust is the first secret of success” and I agree. Learning to trust our selves is a skill that is valuable in every walk of life, from the personal to the professional to the financial.

Trusting yourself doesn’t only count in parenting, it counts in speaking up at a meeting, it counts in making a decision to be an entrepreneur and following through with that decision, it counts in choosing to let someone go for a job badly done and it counts in pushing for bigger budgets. When it comes down to it, do you trust yourself to make changes? Do you trust yourself to take big decisions? Do you trust yourself to take responsibility for your actions and do you trust yourself enough to follow your heart, your gut feeling or your instincts?

Bob Dylan wrote the song way back in 1985.

Trust yourself
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best
Trust yourself
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed

Trust yourself
And look not for answers where no answers can be found

Ultimately, there is great value in educating yourself by any means, whether it’s surfing online, asking people for their opinions or listening to the experience of masters. You inevitably end up being more informed, more open-minded and more understanding. But when it comes right down to it ask yourself, what is it that YOU think and can you follow through on it?

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.