Freelancing: My Three Go-To Sources for Work

To be a successful freelancer you need two things—the ability to provide quality work and clients that are willing to pay for that work. When I decided to become a full-time freelancer, I was certain I could provide writing that would make my editors happy. The right preparations also gave me the confidence that I would have a solid client base to get me started. Here are my three main sources for freelance assignments:  

Former editors and co-workers: I get the bulk of my work from editors I worked for as a full-time staff reporter. I try to never burn a bridge and have always left my past jobs on good terms. Remember, it is a small world!  About a month before I hung my own shingle, I e-mailed all of my former employers and co-workers and let them know I was going freelance. Several wrote back right away and told me they’d add me to their stable of writers. 
 
Alumni contacts: When I first got involved in my alumni networks, securing work was the last thing on my mind. When I moved to the D.C. area, I suddenly realized I didn’t know anyone here, so alumni events were a great way to meet new friends. Without intending to, I’ve actually found several assignments and steady clients. My advice is to sign up for alumni listervs and make time to attend events. I’m not able to attend as many events as I’d like right now, but I do keep track of when and where alumni are getting together and plan to make it when I can.  I’m also a member of Northwestern’s Alumni Admissions Council and devote a weekend to interviewing applicants and additional time throughout the year reaching out to potential students. It is a fun way to meet alumni from different schools within the university and stay connected to the school. 
 
Referrals: Happy customers will typically pass on your name and number when asked. Don’t be shy about asking them to pass on your information if they know of someone looking for a writer. 

One thought on “Freelancing: My Three Go-To Sources for Work

  1. Neil makes some great points. I agree that it’s itmropant to talk to your current boss and make a plan. If you’re lucky to have a supportive boss, it will make the transition easier. And you may end up leaving with a new client! (after all, you know the business already)I also had many talks with self-employed friends/family who became mentors and go-to persons for questions. This is invaluable when starting out and is a great way to boost your confidence. Simple questions such as, do I need a second phone line? how do I handle taxes? can seem overwhelming until you talk to a seasoned pro. And over the years, I’ve paid it forward by being an adviser and “cheerleader” for lots of others who have taken the solopreneur plunge. Along those lines, be prepared for the naysayers. I was lucky to have supportive friends and family, but there were a few “Are you sure about this? How will you pay the rent?” questions that threatened to derail my confidence. Brush it off and move on with your plan. Having a certain volume of work helps. Most freelancers I know decided to go solo when they realized they were putting in more time after-hours than in their day job. Knowing you’ll have at least a project or two when starting out helps give you confidence.Lastly, I agree with Neil’s point about hard work. Be prepared to work twice as hard (at least in the beginning). But the satisfaction of having your own business and creating the life you want makes up for all those long hours!

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