Empowering the Freelance Economy

How do you escape your comfort zone, love Mondays and earn more as a freelancer?

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Freelancers constantly juggle finding consistent work with keeping their skills sharp. However, some freelancers are finding a faster path to career diversity and income by leveraging their existing talents and reaching out to clients in unexpected industries

Imagine you’re a freelancer with a knack for crafting witty social media captions. You’re spending your days bouncing between toothpaste brands and dog food companies. The work pays the bills, but a spark is missing.

One evening, hunched over a particularly uninspired string of kibble posts, a job alert pops up. It’s for a bakery, known for its eccentric owner, requesting a social media revamp.

Intrigued, you reach out and arrange a meeting with the owner. Let’s call her Mrs. A. You find she is not interested in trendy hashtags or influencer partnerships. She wants whimsical stories about the sourdough starter she has named Norbert, the mischievous and well-fed cat who patrols the window display, and the daily mishaps that unfold in a one-woman bakery. Ok… you’re used to catchy slogans and product highlights, so you’re thrown for a loop. But something about Mrs A’s infectious passion reignites yours.

You spend the next week crafting quirky posts, weaving tales of Norbert’s daring escapes for croissants and the popularity of Mrs. A’s out-of-the-ordinary biscuit flavours. To your new client’s surprise (and yours) the posts go viral. People queue up for selfies at “Norbert’s Nap Zone” window display and brave the latest “flavour sensations”.

You, who once wrote about the dangers of dental plaque, are suddenly the bakery’s social media darling, the quirky voice capturing the hearts (and stomachs) of Mrs. A’s local patch.

You realise your storytelling skills can be applied far beyond dog food and toothpaste. So, you begin crafting a new portfolio, showcasing your ability to breathe life into seemingly mundane businesses.

Who knows, soon, a local hardware store could hire you to write tongue-in-cheek tweets about the “thrilling world of nuts and bolts,” or a plumbing company could enlist you to create an origin story for their most reliable plumber, “Leaky Lou.”

But even before the new clients come knocking on your door, you have found that you no longer dread Mondays. You’re up for a new challenge with unexpected twists. All thanks to taking a leap and finding a newfound niche and a new industry. One leap of faith in your ability to change, can lead to many more possibilities.

Here’s how to transfer your skills to new industries

Step outside your comfort zone to spice things up

For any freelancer, whether technical, financial or creative, if you find that your passion is waning in your work, it could be because you are coasting in your comfort zone.

Jessica Kleiman, a communications executive and co-author of “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” exemplifies the value of exploring new horizons. Initially aiming for a magazine writing career, she discovered success and enjoyment in PR while continuing to write on the side. She emphasises the importance of prioritising what matters most when taking on new assignments.

“We often have a predefined career path in mind,” says Kleiman, “but the beauty lies in the unexpected. When I talk to college students, I always say it’s impossible to predict your career trajectory. Companies like Instagram and Peloton didn’t even exist when I graduated!”

Identify your transferable skills in two steps

According to career coach Sarah Jones, the key is to identify transferable skills. She recommends a two-step approach: a skills analysis to solidify your strengths and a skills gap analysis to pinpoint areas for further development.

For example, a graphic designer can use their visual storytelling skills to create engaging social media content for a local gym or construction firm. However, they might need to gain a better understanding of those industries’ trends and challenges before pitching their services.

Reinvigorate your talent in new industries

Here’s how freelancers can unlock their potential in fresh markets:

Skills audit

Take stock of your existing talents. Can your writing skills be used for website copy or email marketing? Can your data analysis expertise be applied to market research for a non-profit?

Think outside the box

Don’t limit yourself to your usual clientele. Research industries that might have a hidden need for your skills or that you have a personal interest in. Explore their current marketing trends and identify potential pain points.

Freelance with different clients

Working with a creative agency, for example, exposes you to diverse clients, industries, and projects. You might discover a love for working with startups, charities, large corporations, or all of them!

Tailored pitches

When reaching out to new clients, highlight the transferable skills you possess and how they can address their specific needs. Showcase relevant examples from your existing portfolio, even if they come from a different industry.

Network to gain free advice

Connect with professionals in complementary fields. Join online communities or attend industry events focused on your target audience. Building your “tribe” can be incredibly inspiring and supportive, especially when venturing into new territory. Diversify your activity on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook by following key executives in your target industries. Engage these communities with professional questions and any tips or insights they may be able to part with.

Benefits and challenges of launching into new industries

The benefits of working in new business sectors or niche areas are twofold. Freelancers gain access to a wider pool of clients, leading to diversified income and projects. Clients, on the other hand, benefit from your fresh perspectives and expertise tailored to their needs.

The approach isn’t without challenges. Just taking that first step to reach out to a company in a new industry takes courage. That’s why understanding the new industry’s nuances and tailoring your pitch accordingly is crucial. You need to know what makes a new client tick, too. Read their press releases, social media posts and any trade press they may be interested in. From this research, you are more likely to ask engaging questions when you first meet or have an introductory phone call.

In the meantime, see what other freelancers with your skill set are doing in these industries to set yourself apart. Your career path and bank balance will thank you for it.

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