KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, January 05, 2007

Good Karmic Prep for Self-Employment

These are just some of the things I did as an employee that eased my path toward full-time freelancing, and you can adapt them to your needs:

  • Get business cards: Have these made up ahead of time as if you are already self-employed. Then hand them out to every contact you make, in work-related situations and in personal settings. You never know who will have need of your services or will know someone who will have need of them.

  • Build a contact list: Keep contact info for everyone you meet on the job and in work-related capacities. They might become clients one day.

  • Be helpful: Become known at work as the person to go to for solutions. That powerful image will stick in the minds of those you work with, and they'll think of you later on when you're freelancing. And I don't mean that you should be helpful only when you know you're getting paid for it. Trade favors with a colleague on your personal time. Maybe she needs her résumé revamped because she's secretly looking for a job elsewhere. Help her out; she may become one of your clients when you're freelancing. Or she may tell others in a position to contract for your services that you're someone they should consider.

  • Build a client list: Every time you come across information about a new company at work, file that information away for future use. Don't violate confidentiality, of course. Whenever I'm online to confirm something, for example, and I come across a publisher's name that I haven't seen before, I hunt down the publisher's web site and bookmark it. I may want to have that company as a client one day.

  • Own your work: Make sure your name and some kind of contact information for you is attached to absolutely everything you write or edit, whether at work, on your own time, on e-mail lists (always have a professional signature line), on blog posts, on message boards. If people don't know you produced the work, how are they going to know whom to contact when they want more such work?

  • Share your knowledge: Don't be secretive and possessive about your knowledge. Whatever your field of expertise, you're not the only one in it, and yet there's enough work to go around for everyone in it. Work with others, not in competition with others. If you are generous, others often will be generous in return. Suspicion and mistrust is isolating, and isolation won't get you the freelance work you want.

  • Be straightforward: When you make a mistake, immediately own up to it but don't grovel, and then fix it. The worst you can do is to keep silent about a mistake. Then your coworkers and supervisors—who could eventually become your clients—won't trust you. And trust is one of your best tools as a freelancer.

There's more, but I must head back to my next project. Please feel free to add on to my list.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks, Katharine...Think I've already got that "problem solver" thing down, at least. It's very gratifying, even without the career benefit.

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