Many content marketers are tied to an agency or are simply in-house. But a huge number of us are also freelancers. It’s an exciting lifestyle, with severe peaks and valleys: unsteady but good pay, flexibility, and the respect accorded to a contractor over an employee. Despite all the possibilities, I feel that many freelancers aren’t taking advantage of all the perks their lifestyle has to offer. I want to talk about five ways that freelance content marketers can make the most of their unique lifestyle.
1. Go after the big fish
Freelancers that are starting out basically need to take what they can get, at least to get some momentum going. But there’s no reason not to be smart about the clients you take on. Many freelancers are afraid to target bigger clients because they don’t have enough confidence in their portfolio. But the bar of entry is way lower than these people think. The boring old slogan is work smarter, not harder. Boring, but true. Why not target big kahuna clients so that work hours are more profitable?
2. Work your taxes
Many freelancers I know are great writers and thinkers, but when it comes to their taxes, they’re dumber than a box of hair. They have no idea how to make their taxes work for them, or worse, they fudge them or don’t file at all. Don’t be like this. It will catch up with you, particularly if you live in America. There are so many tax credits and deductibles available to freelancers hip to the system. If you can’t figure it out yourself, hire an accountant who can. The money spent will come back to you, and then some.
3. Charge more
This is something I need to tell a lot of my colleagues: you’re not charging enough. There’s no need to be apologetic about what you’re worth—remember, contractors do not receive benefits, and therefore our work costs more. We’re also specialists, and not everybody can do what we do. Content marketing, if done well, is both scientific and artistic. It requires skill and experience that not just anybody has. When just starting out, it makes sense to charge lower rates. But once you have good experience under your belt, don’t be afraid to walk away from low wages.
4. Stay focused
The freelance lifestyle can be great. There’s nothing better than staying on task, working for four hours and accomplishing as much as a regular stiff in an 8-hour day. But there’s another side to this: you can waste a lot of hours just sitting in a café zoning out on the internet when you know you have a big assignment due. As freelancers, everything rests on us to get the job done: there’s no boss, no set hours, only your own grit and efficiency. Freelancing gets old really fast if you spend enough days procrastinating for ten hours with your headphones on. The freelance lifestyle is only flexible if you don’t mess around with your work. Stay focused.
5. Travel more
Freelancers need to remember that they aren’t tied to a desk. Why the hell aren’t they traveling and setting up shop wherever there’s a good WiFi connection? A lot of freelancers I talk to get cold feet about airfare costs. I’ve never heard such uncreative creatives in my life. There are many ways to pay for travel—pitch a travel piece to a publication or review some travel equipment. Make the lifestyle work for you, and get out there and enjoy the world.
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Image by Simon Abrams
Thanks for the article, Kenny! It’s such a motivational read! As a freelancer, I travel all the time and it helps a lot (inspiration, new experience, positive emotions, etc.).
I’m just getting started as a freelance writer, fresh and super excited. Right now I’m in the process of building my business and digging for as much information about the business as possible. So far I love everything that I’ve read and all the new information available from all kinds of different people. In exploring the opportunity I wanted to do an actual client search. To get a feel for what would be required of me exactly from different businesses and how it looked to actually apply for one or a few of the writing jobs. Do you have any… Read more »