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Ten tips for freelancers

Image / Elliott Brown
Find your entrance into starting your own business or reinvigorate your existing one. Ande Schurr shares 10 tips for freelancers.


Find your entrance into starting your own business or reinvigorate your existing one. Ande Schurr shares 10 tips for freelancers.

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Training is essential yet often inconvenient. Educating oneself through reading is good but talking and sharing about improving one’s business skills and character traits or work ethics gives quite another level of benefit.

I started a group that meets to learn how to become a next level freelancer.

This is the talk I gave at our first meeting. It’s the 10 strategies that got me to where I am today. I stand with those who have found consistent work over 10 years in my industry.

If you are new to freelancing or harbour ambitions to start your own business, or even to those pros who wish to re-energise their work and lives, I hope you find something that helps you.

"Is your profession something that is transforming you in a positive way, or just passing time”
“The True Freelancer can freelance at anything. All you need to learn is a new skill”
- from entrepreneur David Samuel

1. Choose work that you can fully embrace 

If you don’t make that full commitment to your work you will ALWAYS blame the market for being too quiet and there not being enough clients.

This certainly doesn’t mean that you will work like a slave. You can choose if you want days off. You can still take two months every year to explore another country. It just means that there is no HESITATION in you about wanting the work and looking for it.

2. Know what time of your life you are in

If you are young then work like crazy. If you are older and you want to spend more time with the kids or grandkids, or just take more time to smell the roses or read interesting books, then acknowledge that to yourself.

Be real though. If you’re struggling financially you have no option. Work like a slave until you have the freedom to take it a lot easier.

3. Realise that you can be better 

Much better. It doesn’t matter if you feel that you are better than some of your peers. It’s not a competition with them. It’s a competition with yourself - although having that friendly rivalry can inspire you to greater levels. This is possibly the biggest barrier holding us all back, thinking that we know what our job is. Well, we don’t. It keeps growing at the same rate as technology and the same rate as the expectations of the people who hire you.

The temptation is to think that we are open-minded and eager to become a next level freelancer, whatever that means to you. But are we really? What exactly are we going to change about our style of working, our discipline, the speed in which we work, the clarity of our communication?

4. Work faster 

Learn to work at the speed of the fastest person you have worked with.

Sure, they may be more skilled but that’s no excuse not to pick up your own pace.

5. Pay your debts

You are here today because of one or many wise men or women who have given you the right advice, maybe a word, maybe a thesis. Whatever it is, remember how you got here and especially remember the feeling of appreciation to them.

Do you have a family friend, mentor, neighbour, coach who has made an impact on your life and sent you in a positive direction that wouldn’t be the case if you hadn’t met them? Then you must thank them.

This is of utmost importance. It puts you in a certain mood each day that makes you pleasant and harmonious to work with.  If you don’t do this then you are effectively saying that the universe owes you a living and are entitled to the riches of life without having to work for them. That is artificial and such an attitude will drive people away from you.

6. Follow any lead, any contact, any hunch

If your clients live in offices in the city, then visit them with a clear purpose ‘I just wanted you to see my face so you know what you’re getting’, drop off a business card and don’t spend another moment of their time unless they say ‘stay and have a coffee’.

If your clients are homeowners then just do the rounds. Drop off 500 flyers in a bunch of letter boxes one day. Then follow up the next day in person at select houses. If you are serious this will make total sense to you and you’ll start now to make your flyer on your computer and cost up a print job. If you are floundering and pretending then you will never get around to this.

7. Accept that the market is big enough for you and your personality

Don’t give it a second thought if you don’t have the loudest personality, sharpest brain, quickest wit.  Just enjoy being 100 percent yourself.

You can still be a reserved, quiet kind of person if that’s what you are. You don’t need to have a cracking personality. As time goes on you will gain confidence which will help you become more successful and your personality will become more colourful naturally.

8. Be the right kind of desperate 

It’s in the tone of your voice. The right desperation finds work and is so determined to get busy and keep busy.

9. Admit your mistakes immediately and make amends just as fast

If you screw up, of course, admit it immediately and fix it as fast as possible. Then make it worth their while by discounting the price or adding something extra for free. Not just at the start of your career but well into it when you should know better, you will make mistakes.

10. Prepare your mind and body each day

Insist upon taking a few minutes each day to clear your head and just become present with where you are. I like doing it just after I wake up and before I sleep.

A little walk here and there where all you do is look around and see, listen, feel the air on your body, breathe. It can be staring out the window of your office and noticing the colours of the leaves in their finest detail. Just anything other than being distracted. It’s a precious time of the day and makes the events of the day more interesting, you see more opportunities, and are more aware of doing a good job.

Written by

Ande Schurr

27 Apr 2015

Corporate video producer and production sound recordist now based in Singapore after a 15-year career in New Zealand. Video clients incl. universities, tech startups, medical clinics and business consulting agencies. Sound clients incl. Netflix, Discovery, BBC, National Geo.