The phrase “fake it until you make it” is often thrown around boardrooms and corporate sponsored buzzword filled seminars on “personal Old Freelancerpower” but personally, I opted for Amy Cuddy’s take on it: “Fake it, until you become it” made famous by her internet viral TED talk.

Cuddy made the argument that if you fake it for long enough, it stops being an act and becomes your personal reality. Act at being that confident guy long enough and sooner or later you’ll actually be that guy, so what if we apply this to freelancing/contracting? With the end goal to become a “better freelancer” in mind, we can break the “act” down into a number of smaller data sets based around:

  • Professionalism
  • Desirability
  • Marketing skills
  • Sociability

Looking the part, and the art of professional impressions.

To freelance successfully, you need to at least look the part. From a writers point of view, just because I write in my ripped jeans while drinking vast amounts of coffee and leaching free Wi-Fi (oh yes, I’m that classy) doesn’t mean my submitted work will reflect my poor choice in life style. Completed projects should be submitted to clients in the most immaculate and well-presented fashion possible.

Your completed work, portfolio and anything else the client will lay eyes upon (this especially applies to yourself) must appear to be high quality, tidy and well presented – in other words professional. Each time you deal with a client they need to come away with the impression of dealing with a professional, who is fully capable of delivering a professional product or service. Under no circumstances should a client ever have the impression of “casual or rushed”.

If your reputation is all one truly owns, should it not be one of reliability?

Nothing will destroy your impression of professionalism faster (or more completely) than not meeting a deadline. It shows a complete lack of the basics of good work ethics such as task/time management, bottom line? Just don’t agree on a deadline unless your 100% sure can meet it (with a high quality product or service).

Perhaps the best practise here then is to work towards completing everything ahead of time. For example: if the agreement was for project A to be completed in 3 weeks, then the goal should be to complete it in 2. Never leave anything to run down to the wires, rushing will reduce the overall quality of your work and increase the chance of mistakes.

Desirability = Repeat Customers

You can give a customer everything they’ve ever asked for, and still give them nothing of what they actually wanted. The path of least resistance may then lie, in following the exact line of their instructions, for writers working with a publication this might be in the form of submission guidelines. If a client specifies an article/table/canvass/ [insert applicable freelancing service or item here] is to be of a certain length or size, make dam sure that’s the length and/or size.

Take every chance to market yourself.

Once your career really starts to take off, you may find yourself in a situation which some would consider “awesome”. You’re booked for months, assignments piled high like a veritable tower of success! (Or Babel) the search for customers is a problem for past you.

But even during these golden ages of productively and progress, you need to be taking some time for self-promotion with the aims of belonging this golden age for as long as possible. It’s entirely possible that business that’s made that big order, could simple not be there tomorrow (still a real possibility with the current economy) or they simply hired somebody to do it in house. The best way to overcome any potential problems is to have a steady flow of work at all times.

Do not feed the drama lama, for she is already fat.

Never back away from ending a situation/relationship/project that no longer works for you, or your business. It is entirely possible that years down the line you may find your passion for this line of work waning, you may have that one client who pays well – but makes ridicules demands on your time. These (and any situation like them) cause stress, stress is bad for productivity, progress, self-improvement and most of all, your mental and physical health.

As these stress factors build up, they can start to have a very negativeeffectupon yourfreelancing outlook. Before you become disillusioned from the whole concept of freelancing, take 10 minutes and ask yourself “what can change to improve this?” it might be the dropping of a client, or perhaps the need for a well-earned vacation. If finical worries have become the focus, it may be time for a part-time job while you plan your next move.

In summary of our data points, Freelancer 2.0 is a relatively stress free individual, with a desirable skill set and network of contacts to market it. They also possess a reputation for getting the job done, and done well, all – in a professional manner.