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!

How to Keep Up Your Morale as a Freelance Writer

This is a Guest Post by  Anne John, a software engineer who switched careers to follow her passion for the written word. Currently she works as a web content manager with an online women’s magazine and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. 

Anne John

Freelancing comes with many perks such as the ability to choose your work assignments and work flexibility. However, it has its downside as well. A common problem that most newbie freelancer writers face is keeping up your morale as you kick-start your freelance writing career. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a beginner, you haven’t built up a strong portfolio yet and with every pitch you send out, your hopes go soaring, only to fizzle out a week later. Rejection is hard to face and we freelance writers voluntarily expose ourselves to rejection over and over again. One of the hardest things to do when starting out as a freelance writer is keeping up your morale in the face of continuous disappointments. Here are 3 tips that helped me keep my chin up – and will hopefully help you too:

 

1. Learn to feel good about yourself: Although it is very difficult to believe in yourself when you keep getting rejection letters from editors, it is also exactly the time to give yourself some love. I save every good comment or appreciative feedback that I ever got for my writing. It could be from family, friends or total strangers. It could be on one of your published articles or even on your blog. Build a database of all the positive comments that your writing has ever garnered – you could print out the comments and save them in a folder or simply bookmark them on your computer. When you are feeling particularly uncharitable towards yourself, revisit them. Surely, all those people would not be wrong about you? This will help nip negativity in the bud, cheer you up, build your confidence and restore your faith in your work.

Keep Up Your Morale
Photo credit: Jennifer (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

 

2. Don’t take it personally: Don’t take every rejection as a personal attack on your writing skills. Perhaps, the pitch was not suited to that particular publication at that point in time or perhaps they carried a similar piece quite recently or maybe the editor simply missed seeing your mail. You have no clue and there is no need to be offended. Train yourself to let it go. If the editor gives you any explanation for turning down your pitch, view it as constructive criticism and see what you can learn from it.

 

3. Keep writing for yourself: Most freelance writers start out because of their love and passion for writing. However, we often have to alter our writing to suit the editors’ or readers’ tastes and requirements. Soon, many writers get disillusioned with the whole process and writing begins to lose its charm. To prevent this, keep writing for yourself too. Maintain a blog or a journal where you can give free reign to your pen without worrying about word limits and house style. Simply savor expressing yourself and keep the magic of writing alive. I hope these pointers will help keep your morale up on your freelance journey! All the best!

 

Don’t forget to connect with Anne via her profile on Nabbesh and follow @annejwrites on twitter.

Freelance PR and Marketing – Kellie Whitehead

Kellie Whitehead

Kellie Whitehead has been freelancing since 2005 across the UK and UAE, and is the engine behind www.mamaknowsdubai.com.  With 14 years of marketing and PR experience, she has rich industry experience coupled with a strong insight into the female, family and ‘mum’ demographic that is particularly hard to find within the region and much sought after by brands. It was this specialist expertise that was the catalyst for forming her UAE registered company Mama Media FZ.

Kellie works on a retainer basis with many agency clients, and directly with brands. As a working mother, freelancing was the only employment option when balancing her love of the industry with her family commitments.  Her knowledge of the social media space has contributed greatly to finding work through the various platforms but recently she is finding Nabbesh very useful for leads.

Through Mama Media she works with some of the biggest global names such as Samsung, Unilever and Philips helping them reach out through social media, events and content creation to their target demographic. A highlight of Kellie’s career was pitching against larger network agencies last year to win her biggest client to date, testament to her deep knowledge in the sector. Kellie thinks agencies can benefit from using freelancers more as they bring unique skillsets and specialisms that a full time employee may not have. This trend is apparent on Nabbesh with many people asking for content creators specializing in automotive, cooking, fashion and beauty products.

She identifies an interesting angle on networking and generating repeat business; which is that account managers do change agencies quite often but they tend to take their contacts with them.  Having a readily available and organized pool of freelancers to tap into can make an account manager’s work much easier, and she thinks Nabbesh is a useful platform to keep these connections alive. It also helps freelancers build a reputation as being able to show examples of work and get feedback from people is important in generating tomorrow’s business.

Get in touch with Kellie on her Nabbesh profile here http://www.nabbesh.com/DubaiWriter

Freelance Film Making – Hind Shoufani

Hind Shoufani

Hind Shoufani is a freelance filmmaker and published poet.  Her first freelance job was at the Daily Star in Lebanon at the age of 18 when she walked into the office and demanded a writing gig.  Her freelance career has been in part determined by her nationality (a Jordanian in Lebanon would have found it difficult to get the right paperwork for a full time job) and her dislike for office based corporate work.  Whilst in New York studying for her MFA she used Craigslist to find freelance jobs ranging from voiceovers to translation to directing.

When she came to the UAE at the beginning of 2009 she used her old university contacts to land her first two assignments and soon got introduced to another producer that continued working with her for a while.  She has produced and directed videos for Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Arts, Zayed Book Award, Saadiyat island and more.  She also directed 8 webisodes for the award winning Hiroshi and Osama campaign by Chevrolet.

Having freelanced for so long,  Hind states that freelancers often have more than one skill and shouldn’t pigeonhole themselves,  its also important to make sure you have examples of work ready to show potential clients.  Choosing this style of work might be off putting for many people but Hind encourages more people to try it.  She finds this is the best way to support herself as an artist.  She is currently in post production for her latest film, and is working on another book of poetry along with a novel.

Like most people, she says network effects are vital here when finding work.  The industry is small, most people in the audiovisual world know each other, and this can often be useful to reduce the search for jobs.  However, from the company side, the SME sector, companies who generate the most volume of work, don’t have visibility into freelance talent.  Additionally these companies don’t have the budget to hire agencies, who themselves hire freelancers.  Using a middle man can solve some problems but adds unnecessary cost to the project.. Hind thinks a platform like Nabbesh is a useful way to democratize access to freelancers so clients can meet producers and video editors directly.

Freelance Copywriting – Nigel Holt

nigel holt

Nigel Holt has been in the UAE for 16 years, freelancing part time for 4 years, and now a full time freelancer since 1 year with his company Stylus Copywriting.  His clients have been global automotive brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover, and well known local companies such as Al Gurg and Al Masa.  In addition several media agencies have used his services.

Nigel is an English copywriter, a published poet and an ex headteacher.  Nigel finds work through advertising in the local media, but most of his work comes through referrals from BNI International, a referral network, or from previous clients, and these days through Nabbesh.  Nigel’s motivation for freelancing came from confidence in his own abilities, the observation that there was a gap in the market with agencies not producing enough quality work and a desire to be his own boss.  He thinks that agencies should use more freelancers although the law is not completely transparent in that area.

Nigel says freelancers bring a unique set of skills to the table often having different specialisations and perspectives, especially if they have lived here for some time. On the move to full time freelancing Nigel says that the initial six months were tight, but through BNI and sites like Nabbesh, his exposure has been radically expanded. Growth has been exponential, and is continuing apace. When billing clients, Nigel like many others, asks for 50% of the fee as a down payment.  He hasn’t experienced trouble with commercial clients thus far.  He is confident that the market in Dubai is only likely to become stronger, and that his reputation will continue to grow. His advice is to focus on quality and to be able to demonstrate your work.

Contact Nigel on his Nabbesh profile here http://www.nabbesh.com/nigel.holt