Q1. What’s the secret of effective freelancing and keeping in work??
A1: Working successfully in this way means being able to work the ‘cycle of freelancing’ - that continuous round of having to look for work; getting the work; keeping an eye out for the future and getting more work. And, keeping that momentum and cycle going throughout your freelance life.
We all have patterns of work and getting to grips with our cycle means recognising when we most need to reach out for work and be ready and armed with strong pitches/self-marketing material. Looking ahead is key to keeping the cycle flowing.
- What are your busiest times of the year (when it is hard to do anything else but meet your contractual obligations and deadlines)? If you have regular busy times, that’s great but the danger is that you forget (or cannot find the time and energy) to plan for the end of that contract and may find nothing to move on to.
- Do some forward thinking on this, by drawing up a ‘hit list’ of who to target and when and preparing some self-promotional material to send out.
- Similarly, knowing your quieter times (e.g., some find the end/beginning of the year and summer holiday time hard to find work). Putting future plans in place for self-marketing to your ‘hit list’ of clients /markets will ensure that you make the most of downtimes.
Q2. How can I maximise my chances of staying in work?
A2: If you have been freelancing for a while, you will already have your own known markets and clients. It is very important to keep them ‘warm’ at all times. ‘Contacts’ are exactly that – people to keep in touch with. There are several ways to do this, depending on your particular circumstances. For example:
- Regular email contact to say hello and mention what you have been up to
- Informal face-to-face meetings over coffee.
- Social media contact.
Keeping in touch with contacts takes planning. Keep a note of who you have been in contact with and when. Even if you don’t always get a response, it is fine to try again after a comfortable time has passed.
It’s also important to create new opportunities. Ask yourself:
- Where might there be new markets/clients?
- Can I diversify more? Move into a related area that I have experience of? For example, if you are a performer who has been working in the community with young people, you may wish to consider expanding this to an older age-group.
Q3. I’m not really a great ‘networker’. What can I do about this?
A3. How you network and meet people on a professional basis will depend on your personality. Some find rubbing shoulders at events effortless, many say that they find it more challenging. It’s about getting yourself into the right mindset, knowing that what you are doing is to help you. It may mean getting work but there are also other advantages of networking such as learning more about the industry and getting new ideas.
Don’t feel that you have to attend every event that comes your way. Think about what each event might do for you and be focused in your planning to make the most out of every opportunity.
Q4. How can I improve the way I market myself?
A4. There’s a range of cost-effective marketing tools that freelances can use to get themselves seen. You need to work out the ones that are most suitable to you in terms of your audience and the time you have available to put into marketing. For example:
- Your CV – is it up to date? Do you have several versions to reflect your various skills? If you’re an actor, is it one page in length? For more info, see Quick Tips on CV Writing
- Website – do you have one? Do you update it regularly to make it interesting and to help search engines find it, e.g., with news, links and blogs? For help with building and updating your website, try our tutorials.
- Social media – do you have comprehensive profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+? Have you uploaded a picture of yourself across the board? For help on building your web presence, try our convenient and easy-to-work through ecourse.
- Networking – see above and go to our networking quick tips for more info.
- Branding – does your presentation stand out? Do you have distinctive methods of portraying your image? e.g., a logo that you use on your marketing materials? For more info, see our building your brand Q & A.
- Marketing materials such as business cards and newsletters.
Don’t be put off by the range available to you. Take a step-by-step approach and introduce new marketing methods on an on-going basis. Bear in mind that it’s better to use a couple of tools well than to use too many badly. For example, if you use Twitter, you need to commit to doing this regularly.