As a freelancer for more than 20 years now, I can tell you – it is sometimes a lonely path. While there are many perks to working for yourself, being on your own can also have drawbacks.
For me, one of the biggest issues was not having anyone to commiserate with or ask questions of. So, in Sept. 2018, I launched a Twitter chat called #FreelanceChat. The idea was to gather with other freelancers who also wanted a safe space to land.
4.5 years later, the chat continues going strong. The community of freelancers who attend is warm, welcoming – and believe in the power of freelancers helping each other.
Each week at noon Eastern on Thursdays, we have a topic (and sometimes a guest) related to freelancing to discuss. Topics run the gamut from marketing to administration to mental health and more. Freelancers of all types attend. We have writers, marketers, public relations consultants, audio and video specialists, website designers and more. They’re all at various stages of their freelance journey. Some are brand new, while others have more than 20 years of experience.
For this post, I’ve asked some of our favorite #FreelanceChat guests for one piece of advice to help their fellow freelancers this year. Here’s what they said:
Freelance Advice for 2023
1) Do work you’re proud of.
In 2023, let’s exclusively do work that we’re proud to sign our names to. That means creating high-impact offers; partnering with clients that energize us and pay for our value; and doing exceptional work when given the chance. That’s the work that gets us rehired and referred. And when that happens, we spend less time marketing and more time doing what we love.
– Matthew Fenton, Founder and Chief Soloist, Winning Solo
2) Treat freelancing as a business.
Treat freelancing as a business – take it as seriously as you would if you were to set up your own restaurant. It’ll help you to separate yourself from the work and give you greater clarity over elements like your offering, processes, financials, marketing, and identifying the areas you need help with. You will have a greater sense of control and exude professionalism to clients.
– Sophie Cross, Editor of Freelancer Magazine
3) Diversify your freelance business.
The phrase *anchor client* makes me break out in hives. Diversifying your freelance business with a mix of clients, projects, skill sets, and industries helps minimize peaks and valleys—and decrease your long-term risks.
– Jake Poinier, DoctorFreelance.com, @DrFreelance
4) Take care of yourself.
As we move into a new year and set new goals, I would challenge freelancers to put themselves on their schedule. Your number one business asset is… you! Make time for self-care each day, whether it’s an exercise session, walking in nature, using a meditation app or simply reading for pleasure. You’ll do better work when you’re at your best mentally and physically.
– Angela Tague, Content Marketing Writer and Founder of WebWritingAdvice.com
5) Continue learning.
2023 is already a time of rapid change: the whirlwind rise of ChatGPT, massive layoffs, and socio-political upheaval. To keep up, freelancers should leverage podcasts, business books, and free online courses to hone their skills as much as possible. Curiosity will be our most important business asset this year.
– Tom Basgil, Owner, Tom Basgil, LLC, www.TomBasgil.com
6) Look for clients who give ongoing work.
Look for clients who will give you ongoing work, rather than one-off projects. For me, that meant larger companies and organizations with well-funded marketing and communications departments. You become an expert in that niche which can be a stepping-stone to finding other similar clients.
– Andy Strote, author of How to Start a Successful Creative Agency
Focus on one thing at a time. It’s entirely too easy to think that you need to be everywhere all at once, especially when you compare your services, income, skill set, and overall journey to that of other freelancers. Take a step back and consider where your focus needs to be right now.
– Kaitlyn Arford, freelance writer, link: https://kaitlynarford.com/about
8) Recession-proof your business.
We don’t know for certain if a recession is coming, but why risk it? The more you do to insulate your business from an economic downturn the better. My #1 tip: stay in touch with people in your network so if things tank, you feel comfortable reaching out to let them know you’re available. During the early months of the pandemic, my then-biggest ghostwriting client paused making any new assignments. I pivoted to my journalism roots and pitched pandemic-related stories to editors I’d written for in the past. The rates weren’t as good, but I had steady work until my ghostwriting client came calling again. [This post on tips for recession-proofing your freelance business on my freelance blog has more suggestions.]
– Michelle Rafter, business ghostwriter, journalist and coach
Join Us on Thursdays for #FreelanceChat
Here’s hoping this guidance from experienced freelance pros will help as you work to refine your freelance business this year. And, for more valuable freelance advice, please join us any Thursday at noon Eastern for #FreelanceChat on Twitter. Follow along using the hashtag. You might pick up some tips – and even make a freelance friend along the way.
About the author: You’ll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations and communications consultant, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Attorney at Work, Freelancers Union and more. She is the co-host of #PRLunchHour on Twitter Spaces and is the founder and host of #FreelanceChat on Twitter. In addition, Michelle was named among the top 10 most influential PR professionals by Commetric and ranked in the top five on the PR Measurement Twitter Influencer Index the past two years.