Making your living as a freelancer may afford you a great deal of flexibility, but any career path can become stale if you allow yourself to fall into a basic routine. And in some ways, a lack of variety can be worse for a freelancer than for a traditional full-time worker.
If you work from home, for instance, the absence of team companionship can make the repetition harder to endure (being able to share the burden is a powerful thing).
As the captain of your professional destiny, though, you have remarkable control over the situation — and getting creative might be all the salve you need to keep changing up your workload. Here’s how creativity can help you achieve the varied career you’re looking for:
Creativity makes your work stand out more
Freelancers have the potential for a much greater range of variability than you’d find in comparable full-time roles in the same field. This is due to the ad-hoc nature of their associations. Instead of joining a team and settling down, a freelancer has the choice to remain more flexible in their availability. And more choices mean they can be pickier about their compensation.
Consequently, two freelancers who do essentially the same things can have wildly different levels of success. A top freelancer is well-versed in the art of negotiation, and will have no qualms about charging what they feel they’re worth. While a less successful freelancer may well offer their services at a rate considerably below what they feel they’re worth, being eager to please and worried about the consequences of running out of work.
Now, if you want to be a top freelancer (of course you do, because that means more money and more choices), then various things can help you: getting recommendations from influential clients, for instance, or acquiring specific certifications that prove your abilities. But you shouldn’t overlook the value of being creative in your work.
After all, having a richly creative portfolio offers substantial benefits:
- It shows that you’re passionate about your career
- It proves that you’re not a one-trick pony — you have range
- It sets you apart from any other freelancers pursuing the work you’re interested in
When a project comes along that requires not just skill but drive and commitment, your suitability will be clear.
It adds spark to the same old tasks
To become sufficiently established as a freelancer to have an adequate and predictable income, you need to market yourself for a specific skill you excel at. You can’t get ahead with “Professional Freelancer” on your business cards: people need to know specifically what you do.
And even if you work in a field that naturally has a lot of scope, you’ll find yourself doing certain things over and over again, usually because you need to follow the money and interest. A graphic designer will keep working on logos. An online seller will keep restocking and marketing trending products. A copywriter will keep working on blog posts.
That’s just the nature of the game. And it’s generally a good thing (no, a great thing) because it lends your career some much-needed stability… but it can potentially get dull.
That’s really because you can get adept at getting something done with optimal efficiency, making it completely predictable. As a graphic designer, you can rework the same basic idea for a hundred different logos, making only slight alterations. As an online seller, you can use email automation for your marketing, using the same template over and over again. But if you aim to do something fresh with every piece of work, no matter how minor—you can stop moving entirely on autopilot.
It helps you develop new marketable skills
No matter how passionate you are about your core professional identity, you probably don’t plan to stick to the same niche for the entirety of your working life, right? You’ve likely thought ahead to the next step, and the step after that, ruminating on where you might be in a decade and what kind of role you might have (especially since the working world is changing quickly).
One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you can’t easily get trapped in a rut, and after completing a particular project, you can choose something different for the next one. This is very important because it allows you to branch out and pick up new skills, whether in the same area (to allow you to charge more and take on more interesting clients) or in a totally new area (to let you pursue completely different types of project).
Whether you’re trying something new with a generic piece of work, or attempting something that falls outside your usual pattern, you’ll develop your skills in some way. You’ll become adept with new tools, tactics, and thought processes — ultimately making you more valuable as a freelancer and giving you even greater power to choose your schedule.
Should you be completely creative with every single project you work on? Not necessarily, because that would be exhausting — but you can’t let your route to work stability diminish the importance of creativity in your professional life. You need to find a balance between practicality and creativity. Get it right, and you’ll flourish in all areas.
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- How Creativity Can Help Keep Your Freelance Career Varied - February 22, 2019