3 Common Mistakes New Freelancers Make (and How to Avoid Them)
Some think it was Oscar Wilde, others say Will Rogers, and some claim a Botany suit advert from 1966.
No matter where the saying comes from, it’s true: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Maybe even more so in the world of online freelancing.
Yet every day I see freelancer profiles with the equivalent of “broccoli between their front teeth.” And it’s a shame because the mistakes in these profiles are easily avoidable.
No matter which freelance platform you use, your profile needs to communicate your skills, knowledge, and wisdom to buyers of freelance services.
But many would-be freelancers confuse this profile with a resume. It’s not; it is very different.
Resumes of old were chronological and full of job titles and commonly accepted jargon from your field or industry.
Profiles are skills-focused and accomplishments oriented, and highlight specific skills rather than lengthy job titles.
So your profile is step one. Get it right and you’re in for a smooth transition into the world of online earning. Get it wrong and you’ll quickly leave wondering, “What just happened?”
Here are the three most common mistakes among newcomers to online freelancing:
1. Not Breaking Down an Occupation Into its Component Skills
Most boomers think of themselves as their current or most recent occupation. But in order to carefully dissect and strategically attack the world of freelancing, you’ll want a much more granular view of your skill set.
Do you know how to make PowerPoint presentations? Are you a good proofreader? Do you know how to handle customer service interactions? Chances are, these skills, and usually a dozen more, are in your inventory, whether you realize it or not.
Consider the specialized training programs you have had, consider the software you use, remember the skills you were using before you got promoted.
Creating an exhaustive list of your skills takes a week to 10 days. Once you kick the dust off some of your hard-won expertise from days past, you’ll notice long-forgotten skill sets coming to mind, even while you’re relaxing or in the shower. Be prepared and write those down.
2. Overuse of the Word “I” in Your Profile
One big mistake new freelancers make is creating an “I”-centric profile.
These are filled with sentences that start with “I am,” “I did,” “I worked in.” They are centered around the wannabe freelancer.
If done properly, your profile becomes your own little salesperson, faithfully recounting your skills and knowledge 24/7 for years to come. You need to get this right. And the way to do this is with a buyer-centric profile.
The buyer-centric profile is “you”-focused. Don’t say, “I have 30 years’ experience as an electrical engineer.” Say, “My 30 years’ experience in electrical engineering means that you’ll have a proven project manager accustomed to demanding corporate environments. My ability to control costs and deliver projects on time means you’ll have the horsepower to get your project done right.”
3. Not Taking the “Differentiation” Step
Most new freelancers believe that a buyer looking for a proofreader, for instance, will be hunting for the world’s best proofreader and as a result, they don’t stand a competitive chance of getting the gig.
This is a popular misconception.
In fact, the buyer is looking for a good proofreader who also has knowledge of the topic they’re proofing. So, you don’t have to be the world’s best proofreader if you have some knowledge of the topic.
We call these “domains of knowledge.” These can help set you apart.
Your domain of knowledge could be in the field of aviation, supervisory management, planning and budgeting, or anything at all. You probably even have more than one.
Domains of knowledge can come from your career, but they can also come from your non-career activities. Are you a volunteer? Did you ever coach your kids’ sports teams? Do you have a hobby?
All of these activities produce domains of knowledge that can be very valuable to you in freelancing.
The best jobs you can get are the ones that have the most intersection between your domains of knowledge and your skill set.
By Winton Churchill