On Freelancing and Life After Undergrad

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the job market is ROUGH. Freelancing is a hustle, whether it be writing, makeup, or whatever. I’m having (exponentially) more luck with my freelance MUA work than I am with my writing (though I have two prospective jobs in the works that sound very promising and offer good stability. Those jobs would be continuous blogging, something that I (clearly) enjoy; both companies that I’ve spoken with are companies that I support and would love to work with.

Potential FAQ: Why freelance? My answer is this; I freelance write and do freelance makeup work because I love both of those respective trades, and freelancing gives me the opportunity to accept or turn down gigs as I go. I can continue freelancing with a day job, I can continue freelancing when a day job isn’t an option (in grad school), etc.

That being said, I’d like to discuss some things I’ve learned from freelancing so far.

  • People will flake on you.
    • Free photoshoot, free makeup, over a month of notice and planning; I still had more flakes than follow-throughs.
    • Free work is necessary to make a name for yourself, but it can be a real hassle trying to get feature articles published, getting models (or friends) to show up, etc.
  • You HAVE to network (your ass off).
    • Working for a company you’ve already got resources for days. Freelancing? You have no audience, no resources, etc. without busting ass to network.
    • Networking platforms like LinkedIn are the shit; accept all of the connection requests, reconnect with EVERYONE, and include everything you’ve ever done in your life (aside from those misdemeanors and speeding tickets).
  • Success almost never comes immediately.
    • Networking takes time.
    • You’re talented, but you’re new.
    • There’s a lot of other talent out there.
  • You’ll likely need another job while you’re starting out.
    • On one hand, you need to dedicate oodles of time to your freelance networking and pitching, on the other hand, you can’t network without having the cash to pay your internet bill.
  • You won’t be able to depend on every job inquiry to follow through.
    • Even if you’re pricing is really low, even if you’ve spoken to the potential client several times, there’s always the chance that they won’t hire you.
    • This sucks. This will always suck. It will also always be a possibility.
  • You will lose your patience. People might lose their patience with you.
    • A. You’ll lose your patience with people who don’t follow through, etc.
    • B. Your friends/family might lose their patience with your self-promotion, inability to afford extravagances, etc.
    • C. You will lose your patience with yourself. That’s the hardest part.
  • You are selling your service, you need to try to brand yourself.
    • My current potential gigs where writing is concerned both deal with blogging. I have more content available for my audience on this blog, therefor that is how people view me; as a blogger. My makeup portfolio is mostly full of glam looks, some avant garde sneaking its way in as I progress; mainly I market myself as a special event MUA; ie. prom, wedding, or photoshoot looks.
    • Selling yourself is fine. Incorporating your personality into your work is necessary. Writing and makeup both allow me to do that; my personal blog gives me plenty of room to incorporate my life, my experiences, and my opinions. My makeup career taking place (in part) on social media means that my personality is, again, unavoidable. This doesn’t mean that you have to have the highest level of self confidence on earth, it simply means that you have to try and sell yourself well.
    • The more unique you are, the better.
  • You need to work out a schedule / be VERY reliable.
    • This past Friday I missed my first scheduled content date without updating my audience ahead of time. Don’t be like me. My Tuesday and Friday scheduling is that way for a reason; when a job comes up, one of the first things your potential client is going to ask you about is your scheduling. Being able to provide evidence of your timeliness and reliability is key to landing jobs.
    • DO NOT OVERBOOK. If you’re rushing, you’re probably not producing quality content. Your career is not English 1101, you cannot bullshit your way through this career.
  • Expect rough patches, dry spells, and otherwise sucky times.
    • Consider retail’s sale fluctuations in December and January; you’ve got MASSIVE jumps in sales right before the holidays, enough to necessitate the hiring of seasonal workers in most cases. Come January, the stores are virtually a ghost-town, seasonal employees are either taking inventory or already being let go, and some regular employees are receiving far fewer hours than before. Companies avoid closing their doors during this period by planning ahead. You may have an excellent April, but if you don’t have a gig for the first two weeks in May, it’s going to sting. When your income juts up, hold the reins and make sure that you’re stable enough afterwards for a good long while before you blow your stack on a new Macbook and ten liquid lipsticks from Sephora.
  • Post-Everywhere platforms are your friend in the blogging sphere.
    • WordPress is my friend; when I publish a new blog post, it automatically shares my post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, and more.
    • Social media is your best friend in branding and networking.
  • Be patient.
    • With yourself.
    • With your career.
    • With your creativity.
    • With your whole freaking life.

Freelancing sounds a lot like being unemployed, doesn’t it? It feels that way during the lulls. I’m writing this during a lull, waiting to hear back from two excellent prospects, and i can honestly say that though I’m struggling, it will be rewarding in the future. Writing and makeup are two things that I absolutely love, and I’m sticking with them until I get to where I’m going.

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