The Wasserman Center recently hosted a panel on jump-starting your freelance career. Panelists included Dan Feld, Creator and Host of Prologue Profiles; Carina Storrs, Science and Health Writer (The Scientist, Scientific American); Vivian Salama, Freelance Journalist (Newsweek, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast); and Diane Leon-Ferdico, Adjunct Associate Professor of Arts, NYU-SCPS.
Students and alumni were welcomed with stories about covering areas of conflict in the Middle East, the many options one has with a doctorate in Microbiology, and how they too could sell their paintings to purchase a dream condo on the Mediterranean… not to mention the various tips and advice when pursuing an independent career.
Below are five insightful highlights these professionals shared at the Job Search for Freelance Professionals panel:
Diversify Yourself and Your Expertise
Freelancing is all about providing a type of service or product to a specific client or consumer. In order to reach a wider clientele, expand your areas of expertise. A freelance journalist is much more marketable when they can operate a camera and film and edit footage of stories from which they report. Take on something unique and out of your immediate area of specialty. By doing so, you can grow as a professional and increase your marketability as a freelancer in your industry.
Understand the Decision of Working Independently
The perks of being an independent worker are enticing: wake up late, work in your pajamas, take a jog at your leisure, and dictate your schedule on your terms. However, most full-time freelancers across industries report that they work every single hour of the day and rarely take vacations as their income and sustenance depends on finding new clients, projects, and opportunities. Determine a budget and cost of living estimate so you can appropriately charge for your labor and services. Conduct research about freelancing in your industry. If you want to freelance while holding a full-time job, balance and manage your time and competing priorities.
Understand Your Industry and its Community of Freelancers
Just like you would prepare yourself for an interview, research and keep yourself abreast of big trends, breaking news, and the next “big thing” in your industry. Staying on top of your industry makes you a more informed independent professional and shows a level of assurity and consciousness to your colleagues and clients. Connecting with fellow freelancers in your industry will help you seek out new leads, seek advisement, and create a social network of individuals who understand your work and lifestyle. Networking sites like meetup.com can provide you with groups of professionals who share similar interests and pursuits.
Invest in Your Academic and Non-Academic Work
Freelancers develop their expertise from knowledge inside the classroom… and outside the classroom! If you’re an Economics major, use that Computer Science minor to complete part-time coding projects. If you design marketing materials for several clubs and organizations, you are probably amassing a portfolio of content that can show the level of work and possible deliverables you could provide to a client. Take advantage of your double major, minors, specializations, breadth coursework, and foreign language expertise as knowledge and commodities to use in your “side hustle.”
Developing your service as an independent professional is one thing, letting everyone know what you can do is another! Establish an online presence and brand to engage with potential customers. Invest time, energy, and content in platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr to engage with clients and provide a scope of your potential influence on their upcoming projects or services.