I’ve been freelancing for over ten years now, which has come as a bit of a shock. I’ve now been freelancing longer than I have worked full time in-house.
I originally chose to go freelance after being made redundant, which was back in November 2005. Freelancing was originally only going to be temporary until I found a suitable full time job (I’m sure that has happened to a lot of other freelancers as well) but ten years later, two Apple Macs and couple of changes in location, I’m still here. It’s been hard work freelancing over the past ten years. There’s certainly been the odd time when I’ve felt like packing it all in and working full time in-house somewhere again. Those moments soon pass though. I can’t really imagine going back to work in an office full time now. It would be too weird.
Prior to freelancing I originally worked in the field of publishing. A lot of my original freelance work was based around designing illustrated reference books – cookery, sports, craft, travel etc – for clients in this area. The publishing market has changed a lot since then and the demand for illustrated reference books seems to have died off from a freelance perspective. Luckily during the last three years I’ve started to get the balance of interesting clients and work that I have been looking for – designing magazines, fiction book covers, posters, brochures, exhibition panels and even the odd website alongside regular typesetting jobs.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about freelancing is that word of mouth and maintaining a professional attitude is everything. The first freelancing jobs I was offered came via a recommendation from somebody I had worked with at a previous place of employment. Making a good impression is invaluable and it’s always a nice surprise when an unexpected job comes in from a personal recommendation.
I’ve also found keeping an up-to-date personal website as my portfolio to be invaluable when it comes to promoting my services. I’ve gained a couple of new clients through my site. However, I’ve never had much luck with my attempts at self-promotion on social media sites. I’ve tried LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Behance without much success. For me in just feels like I’m lost in the crowd with everybody falling on top of themselves to self promote themselves and their projects. I think about how often I myself ignore (and block) any self-promotion links in my Twitter feed or requests for ‘likes’ on Facebook. I wonder if it’s just become background noise to most people? Or maybe I’m just doing it wrong!
So January 2016 already? I don’t think last year went particularly fast (for a change) but I’m hoping this one will. It might have something to do with the ‘early’ 2017 premiere date of the new Twin Peaks…