First, we covered what’s essential for a freelancer to make it in this world in Part I. Then, we went deeper into what it means to truly succeed when you’re working as a freelancer in Part II. In this third installment, we’re going to take a closer look at the key steps in building your career.
21. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you just may find it more comfortable there.
Nobody likes change. But sometimes it might be better in the new place. If you always stick to your go-to tools, you will never improve. Always have the courage to break your routine and challenge yourself to experience new endeavors. It may be warm and snug in your comfort zone, but you’re missing out on a world of opportunities outside of it. So go out and get some fresh artistic air—you just might like it.
22. Practice discretion.
At a certain point, you might be given the option between working on your dream job and making money to eat. Not every freelance job is glamorous. When you work to pay the bills, you don’t need to talk about it. You don’t want to get labeled as the “Wedding Guy”, or the “Real Estate Guy”, any more than you want to be the “Event Guy”. While it’s always great to specialize, don’t become too exclusive too early in your career. It’s best to keep your options open, and show clients the wide range of projects that you can do for them.
23. Know whether or not an agent can help you.
Sure, every beginning freelancer wants to have an agent represent him or her. Who wouldn’t want to have someone else do the hard work of getting projects? It’s true that there are good agents that can help bring in work for you, but as with all things, there is a catch: You already need to have a body of work that is clearly defined and interesting. Otherwise, why would an agent even think about representing you? Additionally, you need to have work already coming in, so you don’t run the risk of putting all of your creative eggs in one agent basket.
24. Confidence, confidence, confidence.
Is it important? Well, I had to say it three times, didn’t I? Even the most successful people question whether or not they are good enough. There is often the fear that at any moment, everyone will find out that you are a fraud, a fluke, and likely to straight-up fail. You might not think that you are good enough, but if you keep hiding away in your basement, your work will never see the light of day. Be confident to showcase your work. Be confident to offer services to a client. And be confident that you can do one heck of a job.
25. Have specific goals for the coming day, week, month, and year.
Being a freelancer, it’s easy to fall into the undisciplined, working-from-home trap. Freelancing does not guarantee a consistent stream of projects. You might be swamped on some days, and surfing the Internet on others. You are your own boss, so set specific goals to move your business and career forward during your down time. The catch here is to stay focused on the greater good, one task at a time rather than doing work for work’s sake. If the task isn’t going to lead to more happy clients, then call it for what it is: busy work. Then go find something more productive to do with your time.
26. Be confident enough to raise your rates.
Did we not just say you need to have confidence? You need to believe in yourself enough to price your work accordingly. Double your prices and prove that you are worth it. Besides, who wants to work twice as hard for half the pay? From Day One, you should be marketing yourself as a top-dollar problem solver. Since no one wants to grow up to be middle-management, don’t make your career grow to be mediocre. Always strive to be the best, and charge for that premium service.
27. Have a vision. Be demanding.
Aside from setting goals for yourself, be sure you know where you’re going. Have your own Mission-Vision—it’s the basic foundation of any corporation. Have a clear view of your future. Where do you see yourself five years from now? Don’t cut yourself any slack. Be demanding. Develop a realistic vision that you know you will strive to achieve. It’s all about your determination.
Right now, you are reading one of my articles, and later you might be watching one of my videos. I want to be more than just another retoucher, and those are two ways that I set myself apart from the crowd every day. I even go out of my way to email industry leaders, because I want them to know my name. Everything I do leads to a body of work greater than my single-page portfolio.
28. Do no harm. Unless you mean to. Then do a lot.
If you make no statements, you will never leave a lasting impression on anyone. No matter how technically good your work is, it will be glazed over, and no one will care. In a field full of cows, be a purple cow. Speak your mind, ruffle some feathers, and get noticed. When you work, be different and push the boundaries. Sometimes, you need to break something to make it a masterpiece.
29. When they succeed, you succeed.
Always be happy to help other people attain success. If you have a good relationship with a photographer or editor, and they move up, then this helps you, too. As a retoucher, you are support and need to be helping others to achieve their own successes. And when they reach the top, that means you have as well.
30. Be yourself.
When it’s all said and done, your greatest tool is still your talent. Cultivate your own style. Find inspiration in other people’s work you admire, and then find your own voice. No amount of tips and tricks can change what you have to offer – your pure and unadulterated talent. Make sure you offer services with your own flair and focus on projects that only you can accomplish. When you’ve successfully established your own signature style, you’re well on your way.