The Surprising Secret To Freelancing Success
Stop doing one thing and do it all.
There’s a story about a guy who set up a student magazine. Having developed a sweet tooth for businesses, he moved on to running a mail-order record business that led to a chain of record stores. Following the unrelated trail, he later set up a brand that housed an airline, space flight and broadband — just to name a few. His name is Richard Branson.
Have you figured out the secret yet?
It took me a year and a half to find a tidy answer to the ‘so, what do you do’ question.
Are you a successful freelancer who maintains a consistent stream of business through one skill? Respect.
I’m not one of them.
I can’t honestly say that Richard Branson was my template. But what I can say is that all of my businesses formed quite naturally around me. But now as a full-time freelancer, I always have something in my pipeline without needing to work too hard at filling it.
I break down my professional history (and hobbies) into the smallest marketable segments I possibly can.
Let’s see it in action…
In 2004 I graduated from my Computer Science degree. I took a gap year and went to college to qualify as a hairdresser and make-up artist.
I’d built up a small client base for my beauty business but kept it as a side hustle while I carved out my full-time career as an IT Trainer.
But there’s more.
I joined the dots and delivered hair and make-up courses too.
After six years of IT training, the market wasn’t looking too good so I switched to secondary school teaching. But I needed to supplement my trainee salary with something. That something ended up being content writing. Over the years I have developed my skills and am now a freelance writer and my portfolio career includes a sprinkle of private tuition.
While all of this was happening, I pursued my hobby-of-a-lifetime — music. I joined some open mic nights, made some musical friends and started performing as a singer.
No two days are the same. But I earn money from something every day.
How can you do it?
Let’s say you are a graphic designer. You want to transition into the freelance world.
Obviously, graphic design is something to offer clients.
But you could also:
- Deliver graphic design skills training
- Teach people how to use specialist software
- Get freelance work through agencies
What else? Got any hobbies that you could get paid for?
Ignore the haters and focus on the real challenge
If you choose this ‘portfolio career’ route (I think that is what it is called), be warned that not everybody will like what you are doing. You might even hear the jack of all trades and master of none quip.
My corporate training leans on over 10 years experience. My writing leans on 6+ years. My beauty business has been going for 16+ years. I know what I am doing with each.
The real challenge is presenting yourself professionally.
If you offer related services like our graphic designer mentioned above, you could house it under one website or professional profile. But if like me, you have separate skill sets, creating different business entities is advisable. At least, that has worked for me.