Meet Alice. A freelancer for over a decade now, she still struggles while answering the one question many multi-talented freelancers dread.
"What do you do?"
"I am a freelancer," and stopping there seems insufficient. Freelancing itself is not a job but rather a style of working. It is usually followed by a designation like copywriter, editor or designer. In Alice's case, however, a single title following the "freelancer" status is unable to capture her years of varied experience and skill sets as an independent worker.
As a full-time freelancer, she successfully crafted branding for startups and now has an impressive portfolio with an array of work showcasing her expertise in brand consultancy, creative strategy, graphic designing and even brand journalism.
Yet, she struggles to answer the question about her work succinctly. How do you define everything you can do without letting anyone wrongfully assume you are a jack of all trades and master of none?
Alice is not alone in her in her turmoil. Many freelancers struggle to put a definite title on their visiting cards. Designer/copywriter, Writer/editor, project manager/developer are to name a few.
"As the economy changes and the workplace becomes more fluid (and often unpredictable), I think that more and more people are learning to branch out and develop complementary skills that often evolve into fully functional careers," writes Katie Hamill forFreelancers Union. "Nowadays, the linear, predictable career path is often unavailable - but more crucially, people are CHOOSING to take more esoteric routes to success. The old molds are being broken," she says.
If you are a multi-talented freelancer like Alice, you have probably taken the risk to do all that you love rather than follow a predefined safe path. You can skillfully use some of your work experiences to stretch out further in your area of interest and gain other desirable strengths.
Designers understand what it means to lead an observer's eye into design. They use copy, color and typography to draw attention to important information. If you were a poster, what information would you want a potential client to take away in the first 5 seconds of standing next to you? That is a good start.
Don't hurry to use big words like manager, director or CEO. I once came across a visiting card of the founder of a startup that described his position as in-charge of many things including window cleaning for the new venture. It was catchy, but importantly it was honest.
The best personal brands I have come across combine a freelancer's personal interest and/or passion with their professional skillset. It's a way to make yourself memorable, and more importantly it shows employers your passion for your work extend beyond what pays the bills. Indeed it's a great way to connect with interested hirers who may share similar values to you, and based on this trust, believe you are the best person to conceptualize their idea and deliver what they need.
Once you are comfortable with your distinctive brand, it is time to market yourself. Show up at networking events. And don't underestimate the power of online networking- social media is not only useful for marketing yourself, but also an effective tool to help you connect with peers in your industry. Jump on hashtag conversations on Twitter- #FreelancerLife is a popular one that resonates with independent workers.
Flaunt your resourcefulness. It is an asset in today's fluid economy.