Welcome back Timmy, I see you’ve been putting those well-earned copying skills to good use on the internet. You’ve made real money doing just enough to beat those pesky copy filters and now spend most of your time passed out in your underwear, in other words you’ve made it as a freelance writer!
But steady on little Tim, your GoogleFu skills aren’t all you’ll need. In fact you’re going to have to fake a bunch of other skills if you want to keep your new found coffee addiction fed. But good news Tim, just like the internet you shamelessly rip off every time you crave fast-food, i’ve done most of the work for you. So shove another pizza slice in your breathing hole and try to keep up!
The art of being nice to people and “Customer Service”
Strange as it may seem, writers honestly aren’t very good at customer service (least I’m not anyways). Safely hidden away behind the veil of comforting and anonymous words, writers can create deep and thought provoking content that tugs at the brain stem and heart strings all at once (not, unlike a red bull overdose). However they often come off as pompous, arrogant and kind of blunt when personally dealing with clients.
The goal here, is to always come off as positive, responsive and helpful – in other words professional, at all times. This becomes even more prevalent in the realms of e-mail based communication. You may feel safe surrounded by your fancy words and logic, however you must never let your guard down Tim. E-mails are the double edged sword, the Judas, the betrayal in other words – a trap. At first glance they appear as an almost jovial way to communicate with clients however a well written and professional e-mail is the difference between landing a client and going cold turkey on the coffee.
There’s this thing called “Tax” and why you need to get your accounts in order.
Business and math go hand in hand Tim. Remember, that as a freelancer you’re running the business of you. As a freelancer your self-employed and as such are responsible for managing your own income, expenses and that all important tax. Get your self acquainted with the basics of accounting (accounting 101) via books, college courses and the Omni-present internet.
Now I highly recommend actually learning this stuff Timmy, but who wants to bother themselves with brain labour am I right? It’s 2014 and everything can be found on the internet even freelancer accountants are just a click away. So if you really can’t stuff all that sugary information into your brain basket, hire an accountant Timmy – HMRC (the IRS for US readers) don’t tolerate dissent and will find your lack of Tax paying an affront to their holy crusade.
Get out there and make yourself known champion.
Its common knowledge the internet is in fact made of magic Timmy, how else could it defy the laws of physics and create something from nothing in the form of a never ending stream of cat gifs? It’s just old magic – in other words, well… words, the internet is made of words Timmy (and tubes if you believe Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens).
As the internet has many words, so too does it contain many “writers” and competition can be steep. I type “writers” because many of those competing for the attention of your clients aren’t actually very good at creating words and things. However you may still feel as there’s a word jockey around every digital corner of the Internet however when we invade their personal space for a closer look Tim, we find they don’t hold up to the scrutiny of our judgemental stares.
The trick is to learn how to show people what you offer isn’t just your average run of the content mill mockery of word play, even if it is – just keep slapping those content filters Tim, you’re doing great! Again research can help you get the edge, writing about a new product? Actually learn about said product first. It’s a radical concept Timmy I know, can you believe that in 2014 people still actually expect you to write things that are A. applicable and B. relevant to the subject matter at hand? Ignore them Timmy and get back to Ctrl C – Ctrl Ving your way to victory!
There is a point, at which “clutter” becomes “filth”
I know you basically live at the coffee house now Timmy, but the barista has started making threats and you need to head back to your actual place of dwelling. In the name of the holy index Timmy, what has become of your “home office”? There’s stuff everywhere and… is… is that Grandma? Has Grandma actually died in here Timmy?
Now that we’ve purged the evil from your room through holy flame (via a flamethrower) and given Grandma a real funeral we need to talk about your lack of “organizational skills” Tim. The internet is a cold and unforgiving place to those who forget, the second you miss a deadline or forget a meeting the client will be all over social media about it faster than David Cameron back-pedaled on visiting Scotland (HA HA POLITICS) the schedule is your friend Tim, create and follow it. Personally I find it helps to channel Haruki Murakami!
When in doubt, retreat to Fort Parents Basement!
Now Timmy, should the impossible happen and the magic money flow from the internet stops… what will you do? A day might come when nobody requires that “wonderfully creative wordsmithing” you keep boasting about on social media – how will you afford Latte Grande’s then? What you need is a backup plan Tim. Be it emergency money in a sock draw or a well-constructed contingency plan involving stock manipulation, dark pool trading and offshore accounts. No matter how successful you become as a freelancer, always have your Plan B Timmy – remember the HMRC Crusaders!
And now for something, somewhat different?
Jokes aside customer service, bookkeeping/accounting, self-marketing and organization are all skills you really do need to master to make it as a freelancer. From freshman to industry vet, successful freelancers will be doing their best to put forward a professional, respectable and useful persona via the active demonstration of these skill sets.
This particular article maybe written from a more freelance writer-centric point of view, but the skills listed apply to every field of freelancing. Remember clients don’t buy things or ideas (at least not at first) what they buy is people – ideally you, assuming you’ve come across as more “Professional” and less “Timmy”.