Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with no allegiance to one company? To work from home, on your own time, earning a wage that YOU set? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get to work on a variety of projects each year with the ability to express your creative talents?
You’re not alone.
Every year, thousands of people take the plunge and dive full force into a creative freelance career with high expectations of freedom, financial stability, and emotional fulfillment. A freelance career is described as working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. Go take a peek at my website to see the type of work freelance calligraphers usually take on. See what I mean? A variety of companies, a variety of projects.
While freedom, financial stability, and emotion fulfillment through a freelance career can absolutely be achieved by some, it’s so important to understand that these things aren’t always what freelancing looks like, and that freelancing is definitely not for everyone. Plainly, just because you’re a fantastic artist doesn’t mean that you will be a successful freelancer.
To become a successful freelancer, one must have a distinct set of characteristic attributes along with a specific type of work ethic, general outlook, and highly specialized skills.
Most of you tuning in here are coming to MJW to learn more about calligraphy, lettering, and how to make it as a freelance artist. Some of you are already proficient freelancers, but the majority of you are still learning what it takes and are still preparing for the leap into full-time freelancing. Wherever you’re at, I welcome you to continue following us here on MJW to learn more about all the skills needed to be a successful freelance commercial or wedding calligrapher. Want to really access your full potential? Sign up for a Molly Jacques Workshop membership to take our e-courses and be the first to take our Freelance 101 course when it launches!
Let’s start off the Business section of the MJW blog right and dive into what makes up the traits of a successful freelancer….
- You must always be confident in whatever skill you’re offering or at least be able to imitate confidence.
- You must be able to work well under pressure and be willing to take risks when necessary.
- You’ve gotta work hard. Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes it’s feast or famine and you need to be able to work hard in either circumstance. You need to be able to continue working hard even when you don’t feel like it.
- You must take other people’s opinions seriously. Always assuming you’re right or that you’re opinion matters more than others could be the downfall of your career.
- You must have sound communication skills and have an eagerness to engage in daily discussion with others.
- You’ve gotta be extremely organized.
- You’ve gotta have tough skin. Facing rejection can be a daily thing for even the most successful artists. If you can’t take rejection, you won’t make it. Period.
- You have to have a vision. You need to be able to set your own goals and make real progress towards those goals without the motivation of others.
- You must be honest with yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses like the back of your hand and let them be a guide and motivation to become better.
- You must be passionate about what you do and remain loyal even when you hate it. Freelancing is a lot like love… it’s easy when everything is clouded by roses but a truly fulfilling and honest career comes with dedication even through hard times.
- You must be able to manage money. Again, even the most successful artists face feast or famine. The best freelancers know how to budget their time and money wisely.
- You must understand business. Calligraphy and lettering as a job isn’t just about calligraphy and lettering. It’s about using your talents to earn a living. The only way you can actually earn a living is by fully understanding how to run your own business.
After taking the time to read through these traits – where do you feel you stand? Perhaps you were excited about a freelance career but now are unsure. Those are valid feelings. Running your own business is much different than working a regular job and it takes a lot of elbow grease and enthusiasm to make it sustainable.
A few words of encouragement: with dedication, you are capable of amazing things. I love how Steve Jobs put it: Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Just because you aren’t good at communicating with others doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Have a problem with organization (*cough, sounds like me!*)? You can work on it, and get better. The kicker is that you have to be truly, fully, and utterly dedicated to getting good at the things you’re bad at.
With patience, hard work, and an honest reflection of your downfalls and a willingness to change, you can work at becoming someone who would be good at freelancing. If you don’t possess all of the traits listed above and are not dedicated to getting better, then freelancing isn’t for you. …And there’s nothing wrong with that. Every human has their own uniqueness to offer the world and sometimes that has nothing to do with freelancing.
So today I encourage you to take a close look at this list and really reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Share your freelance career goals in the comments below!