Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Freelance files | Open for business

My new mini moo cards. Thanks, Klout (and Twitter friends).

As I'm going out and meeting new people in my new city, I get asked a lot of questions. The most common questions?
  1. What do you do?
  2. So what do you do?
  3. How do you get started doing that?
My answers?
  1. Some combination of the following words: freelance, contract, writer, communications, social media, nonprofits, grants, editing.
  2. Write reports, grants, proposals, articles, web content, marketing copy and blog posts, format and layout documents, produce print and online publications (like e-newsletters), copyedit and consult on social media strategy and communications. Not at all once, of course.
  3. Good question.
I don't have much of an answer yet for the third question because I sort of fell into this freelance thing and because it's different for everyone. I've been doing freelance copy editing since grad school, and have done a few freelance articles here and there as well.  I added in freelance grant and proposal writing about two years ago, and the rest is stuff that I used to do at my day job. I've noticed more and more young professionals going their own route, so here are my tips for drumming up business.
  • Reach out to your networks. All of my paying work so far has been with companies and organizations that I worked with in California. I told them early on (before I left) that I would be branching out on my own after the move and that I'd be available for hire. A few quick emails once I got here to let them know I was open for business and I have had a pretty steady stream of work (not enough to fill up my docket, but enough to give me some structure to my day and time to build on other areas).
  • Get online. My work isn't tied to geographic location, so the Internet is an extremely valuable marketing tool for me. I try to stay active on Twitter and Facebook and plan on investing some more time in LinkedIn, and of course this blog is sort of a live demonstration of my abilities (that's not the reason I blog, though). I'm also working—slowly—on my professional website. But social networks are my main target online.
  • Volunteer or do pro bono work. I mentioned before that I've been volunteering at Dress for Success Miami, but I never mentioned what I was doing. Well, we launched their new quarterly e-newsletter last week (which I wrote, designed and coded) and next up on my list is building out their website with content and features and updating their communications materials and social media efforts. I'm doing it pro bono for now, but I've already gotten leads for new local clients through my work with the nonprofit. It's difficult to branch out locally when my portfolio includes mainly in-house work done across the country, so having local work to show is a major plus.
  • Hit the pavement. There is a lot to be said for good old fashioned networking, especially in a town that is as who-you-know as Miami. Basically if you live in Miami and have a free lunch hour, I'll lunch with you. We can chat about fashion, TV, work, travel...whatever you want. We don't even have to talk about work (mine or yours). I'm just meeting people and going to functions (volunteering has been great for that, too). This part is the most difficult for me so far because I'm an introvert by nature, but I'm getting more comfortable with it. 
  • Brand yourself. Not with a branding iron, of course, but with a professional identity. Branding often includes logos, colors, fonts, taglines, etc., but it can also be with values, specialties, or a strong personality. I'm not working on a logo, for instance, but am focusing on several areas for my work (such as nonprofits and career development/professional advice). Hey, I know my strengths.
Have you ever opened your own business (small or large)? What tips do you have for getting your foot in the door?


  1. GREAT post, Angeline. I love your new cards, and I think they make a pretty strong branding message :) The pro bono advice is something that I have a hard time with, because I always feel like it won't lead to paid work. I also haven't done pro bono on something I'm passionate about, and I think that's part of the reason that it hasn't lead to paid work in the past.

    How do you like Dress for Success? I've been thinking about getting involved with them, but I just haven't taken the step. However, seeing your updates about the organization gives me a little push in the right direction, every time :)

    I'm glad to hear things are going well for you, and I can't wait to hear more about your freelance adventures!

  2. Your cards are AMAZING. Seriously. So glad to hear everything is taking off!

  3. Ohhhh nice post and thanks for the tips you got their, I think I'm gonna follow what you said above to be successful in my venture too... :)

  4. @ Ashley - Thanks! I was so impatient to get some cards that I just threw something together...not sure how it will tie into my website yet.

    I really like Dress for Success Miami! Each affiliate has a lot of control over their operations, so it's pretty variable. But their mission is great and they really make a difference in their communities.

    @ Odusee - Thanks! Good luck!

  5. Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here. | | | | | | | | | |


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