Guy Anderson is a former freelance web designer and now the owner of digital agency zero G Media. After years of straight-up freelancing Guy is building a digital agencyby taking on bigger projects and working closely with a trusted team of freelancers.
I spoke to Guy to get his thoughts on freelancing. What follows are his words, followed by my interpretation.
“I went freelance because I wanted the freedom to make a difference.”
Guy went freelance after becoming frustrated by the lack of control in his day job. His employer wanted a compliant operative. Guy wanted to innovate, to see his ideas develop and bloom. His employer wasn’t interested. So Guy went freelance.
Guy’s motivation for going freelance is fairly typical, but his is a very positive reason to change. If you crave the freedom to pursue your own ideas, then go for it. Make your ideas happen. See what emerges. Wanting freedom and the room to pursue your own initiatives is a great reason to quit your job and try freelancing.
“I don’t really do selling. I just honestly believe that I can make peoples’ lives better.”
Selling is, for many, a dirty word. And for many freelancers selling is an odious task, and one we’d rather not think about. But Guy’s approach to selling is to not think about selling, and simply think about how he can help people. If he can’t help people then he doesn’t pretend that he can.
Guy knows when his services and his skills are unsuited to the job on offer, and he politely declines, or suggests an alternative freelancer. So if sales is one area of freelancing that you don’t enjoy (or don’t foresee enjoying) then remember that you don’t need to sell anything to anybody. You just need to offer something useful, and believe in your own usefulness.
“You have to keep on marketing, all the time. You have to fill tomorrow’s plate.”
After surviving a few patches of work scarcity, Guy discovered the value of persistent marketing. So even when he’s busy, Guy does marketing. He networks, updates his blog, enhances his web presence or uses social media (particularly LinkedIn and Twitter) to find clients and the freelancers he employs. Thanks to this persistent marketing effort, zero G enjoys a steady stream of work, with fewer of the unsettling lulls that normally characterise freelance careers.
But ‘persistent marketing’ is easier said than done. Because who wants to go traipsing out to another networking event when there’s important work to be done? And who wants to drop the client’s project for an hour to write a guest blog post for a peer? Sure, it’s not easy. But it’s the key to getting a steady flow of work.