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The Free-lance ‘X-Factor’ for Success

October 6 admin

This world is full of amazingly talented people with no jobs.

It’s a reality faced by thousands upon thousands of talented people across the globe and what is the reason? Why is this happening? Well my conclusion is that it’s not about talent but the overall value package of the product/service being offered.

Earlier this year, I put out one ad on Craigslist looking for an art director for Lucky Lady Games. Expecting maybe a dozen or so resumes, I received over 100 resumes within a 2 week span. I was overwhelmed/flattered with the response while at the same realized that if Lucky Lady Games ever goes belly-up, and I need to go grind a design contract for some extra dough, I’m in for some real competition.

After a few interviews and intensive testing, I realized many of these artists were indeed talented but were missing that certain X-factor to close the deal. It also made me ponder why I had been so successful as a free-lance designer – even among a pool of hundreds of graphic artists who were without a doubt better artists. I’m not the best at drawing, my attention to detail is mediocre at best, I’m good but not expert at any graphic software, I failed color class in art school… and on and on. Instead of telling you my weaknesses, let me tell you about why I will always be successful and it has nothing to do with talent.  Yes, I have the magic formula or what I am going to refer to as the ‘X-Factor’ to being a successful free-lancer, and I am going to share it with you.

(Note: I understand that everyone’s idea of success is different. When I talk about being a successful free-lancer, the standard I keep for myself is having enough to pay your all your living/business/tax bills every year with 50%+ left over for savings. Eg. Your cost of living is $5000/month so you should pull in at least $10,000/month)

The Free-lance ‘X-Factor’ to success in no particular order:
  • You need multiple sources of income. At my peak I had about 8.
  • You need income sources where it’s self reliant and doesn’t take sweat. (Eg. Sell hosting/Google Ads)
  • You can’t be picky with your projects. Take everything that comes your way while you can. You never know when the next job will come, even if you are booked… make it happen, some how – some way. This not only shows dedication, but is great for client relations.
  • Be willing to work 24/7 to get the job done
  • Make alliances with related business such as print-shops if you are a designer or local bakeries if you are a restaurant. Not only do you benefit from great discounts, but you might get overflow work/customers.
  • You got to put yourself out there. Tell everyone you need work, network, be involved.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, 80% of my business came from referrals
  • Build your network and send business to others that you can’t do yourself and in turn they will do the same for you. Give before you receive!
  • Plan for your future & what may come.You need to be ready for when opportunities arise.
  • Go over and above on everything
  • Put your customer first. Work on their schedule and needs, not yours.
  • Never say ‘That’s not my job!’. If someone wants you to do something and they are willing to pay for it, do it!
  • Don’t under sell yourself. Know the value that you are worth, and give discounts that are beneficial to both sides of the table…
  • Make sure that if you do give discounts it’s for a specific reason – not just for the sake of discounting!
  • Make use of down time, don’t think you are on vacation if you don’t have work.
  • Always be learning. You are your company and all your departments so get well versed in the business of business! Marketing, administration, business development, sales, product management, production…
  • You don’t need to be the best, you just need to be good enough and reliable enough to get the job done and on-time.
  • Be reliable
  • Be accessible all times. Yeah you want to separate personal from business, but as a free-lancer you don’t have that luxury. (Not now anyhow!) Stay close to your phone, email, skype etc.
  • Get your personal life in order. Have a clean house, take care of your relationships, live on a budget.
  • Build a relationship with your clients by making sure they know they are valued. Send appreciation notes/gifts, give VIP discounts etc.
  • Surround yourself with people who help you succeed. See below for who these people may be.
  • Give everything you do 100% or don’t do it at all.
  • Have a positive can-do attitude
  • Don’t waste time with distractions, only party with a purpose.
  • Take care of the people that take care of you!

There you have it, the secret to free-lancing success! Now the only thing you need to do is just DO IT! Nothing comes without great sacrifice.

The People You Need in your Corner

Here’s an elboration and a tribute to something great I read this summer on ‘The 6 People You Need in Your Corner’. I suggest everyone read this article.

I am a firm believer that nothing in this world that is amazing is ever accomplished alone. You need to be able to help others in your path just as much as you shouldn’t be afraid to accept the help of others.

The Forbes article states 6 people and a quick summary of them are:

1) Instigator: Someone who pushes and inspires you. This person makes you think.

2) The Cheerleader: This is your biggest fan and motivates you to keep going because you dont want to let them down because they believe in you so much.

3) The Doubter: This person is your devil’s advocate and voice of reason. They might make you see an angle you never even thought of.

4) The Taskmaster: This is that micro-manager that keeps you on target and that momentum continues.

5) The Connector: This person holds the vision and sees the bigger picture. They are social, they know everyone and can get in anywhere.

6) The Example: Your mentor and the guidance of what you need to do to stay on track to get to where you want to be.

Click here to view the original source reference article on Forbes.

Until next time, keep moving forward!


Closing quotes:
Talent in cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. – Stephen King

To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate. – Michael Jordan
I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.

– Zig Ziglar

Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results. – William James
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