FREELANCE — HOW TO BE THE “GO TO”

I see this constantly. The creative director has me build a team, we bring on the ready and willing, and then fast forward 2 weeks and we are phasing some of them out. There are so many reasons that the CD or accounts can become disenchanted with freelancers. These 5 tips keep you off the shit list.

TOUT YOUR PASSION.

This might seem counter-intuitive — they hired you for your work, right? But there’s nothing that creative directors like more than talking about creative. It’s why they do what they do. Truth is when you have been in the creative field for FOREVER, you miss critiquing the most (I know I do). Pick a piece that you’re working on and find a good time to ask for their input. This shows that you both respect them and value your own work. Win, win.

IF YOU NEED YOUR HAND HELD, GET MORE EXPERIENCE PRONTO.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the 9–5 group. You can be a sheltered little bird at some agencies, and they will gently coax you out of the nest. Out in the freelance world, you will get chewed up and spit out before you can say, “And my rate is …”. There are CDs out there that will take the time to train you up, the payoff for them being that now you’re trained in the way they do things. They have a minion, and you get paid on a regular basis — it can be rad. But from experience, when I’m looking to assemble a team for a project, I want someone ready to hit the ground fucking sprinting and sweating like they’ve been there all along.

Bottom line, in your current daily, ask for critique often, look at the work your competition is pumping out regularly, and be honest and upfront about your strengths and weaknesses as you learn.

LEAVE THE ATTITUDE AT HOME, AKA DON’T SASS.

Oh man, this one is the worst, because it’s totally preventable. Basically, don’t have a fucking attitude about ANYTHING. You can cry later to your freelance support group at the bar about how this is the worst work you’ve ever taken on, and you can even *gasp* send your final invoice and decide to never work for someone again! This is, after all, one of the best parts of freelance. Just save it for later, because if you flick ’tude during an internal review or even worse, in front of a client, you will be kicked off the team in a hot fuckin’ second. The bummer of it is that the creative community is tight. I have straight up told friends not to hire people because of things like this, and I certainly wouldn’t use you again. That’s how quick it can happen. Just smile, nod, and keep on truckin’.

GIVE YOUR INPUT.

I know it’s scary. This is one of my weaknesses, too, and if you’re working with a strong CD, they can seem like they know everything! (They don’t.) Pull the chair up to the table and contribute. Give critique, throw out dumb or genius ideas, who cares!? Just make sure your voice is heard. Of course, there’s a fine line between helpful and annoying, but this shows that you actually care about the work and that you have something to give. My graphic-design teacher in college used to say, “Don’t be a wrist.” Mmmhmmm, that’s what I’m talking about. If you don’t have a point of view, then you’re just a wrist, and they can hire another one no probs.

GIVE MORE THAN THEY ASK FOR.

This one is simple. If they ask for 3 ideas give 5, if they ask for 10, give 15. When you’re client facing, you want to limit this, but internally, they most likely are looking for something to light a fire. Give ’em hella sparks.

*BONUS — TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR WORK BEFORE PRESENTING.

Sloppy does not a busy freelancer make. Review everything you’ve done BEFORE you send it to be internally reviewed. You will look more professional and will gain trust in spades.

Go get ’em!

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