I don't have an impressive online following.
I don't use Behance or Dribbble, and I have 214 friends and bots on Instagram.
Yet I've been a full time freelancer for over four years working with over thirty five clients (National Geographic, Pepsico and Carnegie New York among them) on more than one hundred projects.
Mainstream advice says:
"Get on social media, network as much as you can and get well known for your skills in order to get clients and be successful."
This translates into creatives spending dozens of hours each week posting stories and sketches on social media, spending thousands of dollars a year on conferences - all in a vague effort to "get known". Sound familiar?
We get burnt out and grow disillusioned with our efforts, our industry and our craft. We're left with a handful of "likes" and "appreciations" and build no lasting asset of our own.
But here's the good news:
"Getting known" is not a prerequisite for freelance success in the creative industry.
Because "followers" don't pay the bills. Clients do. You can have tens of thousands of followers but no steady income. By contrast you can have just five clients and make a very good living.
Like you, I thought every creative freelancer needed to have a social media presence, cultivate a well-known brand and be active on all the portfolio showcase sites. But year after year, I kept landing clients and projects without an online presence:
Slowly I learned what was important to develop as a creative freelancer and what wasn't. I distilled my creative freelance philosophy into the following:
Focus on providing a high quality service and then talk directly to clients whose problems your services solve. Use the money you generate from solving client problems to live your life and fund your development as an artist.
This is the approach to be a successful freelancer and creatively fulfilled artist.
This is how we can fully leverage the freelance opportunity - to make a living and fund the development of our own personal creative vision.
In order for my philosophy to have practical use, I created:
This is what you need to do to succeed as a creative freelancer. This framework will have you building a client base that values your work and your ideas because you help solve their problems.
Build your freelance business first. Cultivate a client base and have a steady income. Second, use that income to fund the development of your personal creative vision - figure out what it is you have to say as an artist and then say it; this will help differentiate yourself from your peers. Third, now that you have something to add to the creative conversation, you can start building an audience - if that's what you want.
Get this process right and you will have clients knocking at your door with interesting opportunities; get this process backwards and you will keep struggling to "get known" with mediocre work and no steady income.
Unlike other courses out there taught by rockstar artists or academics, I'm right alongside you in the freelance trenches. This framework has been the key to my success, and it can be yours, too.
There's a lot of noise out there when it comes to learning how to freelance. I don't want to fill your head with another top ten list or set of "weird tricks" to help you get clients - I'd like to invite you to take a deeper dive into my freelance framework and show you how I've applied it in my own freelance career. You'll get instant access to:
- The walkthrough video
- Details about the course I personally wrote, designed and teach
- My favorite scheduling tool and custom template
- A detailed breakdown of why most freelancer portfolios are hurting their chances of landing clients
The Unconventional Freelancer newsletter, where you can read my personal and client case studies and get a link to the video you can rewatch at any time.
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