There are many symptoms of a stagnant freelancing career. They include boredom, complacency, apathy and the inability to picture what your work should be like a year from now. If you can relate to these symptoms, then it’s time to face facts: you’re stuck. Additionally, you need to do something to get unstuck.
So how can you get a stagnant career moving again?
Know where you want to be. Sometimes, the reason behind a stagnant career is that you don’t know what you want. This doesn’t mean that you’re indecisive, but maybe you didn’t give ourselves the chance to plan. Without the existence of a traditional corporate ladder, freelancers can have a hard time knowing what the next step is and how to get there. Here are two articles from our archives which might help you figure it out:
- “Plan Your Web Working Career Path“
- “Plotting Your Career When You’ve Jumped Off the Corporate Ladder”
Write a book. Many freelancers have improved their reputation by self-publishing books about their field. As Darrell noted in a previous post, doing so can be seen as a proof of competency. Through your book, potential clients can verify your expertise. Print-on-demand services such as Lulu and Blurb make it easy to self-publish your book.
But this doesn’t mean that you should aim to print a costly paperback or hardbound version of your book. In most cases, an e-book will do, even if you’ll just give it away for free. If a full-length book sounds too labor-intensive, start with a 10 to 20 page guide or manifesto. Review this list if you need inspiration.
Submit guest posts to authority blogs in your niche. Guest posting, when done right, can help spread the word about your work. You’ll be sharing your ideas with your target market while promoting yourself at the same time. To learn more about guest posting, visit the following:
- Ramit Sethi wrote some guidelines on how to write guest posts for his blog, but the advice is applicable to guest posting in general.
- “How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting” from Problogger.net.
- Men with Pens has a seven part series on guest posting, starting with this piece.
Make one to three valuable new contacts. Think about the top three people you’d love to show your work to. They could be potential clients, professionals you respect, or even people working in a completely different field altogether. It’s easy to forget about networking when you’re spending several months talking to the same clients and colleagues. There’s an entire world of web workers out there. Many of them could be a source of inspiration, advice and referrals.
Help others. As a side effect of blogging, I end up answering emails and queries from new teleworkers looking for advice. Look for opportunities to help those who are new in your field, whether it’s through your blog, online messageboards or social networks. It’s a good way to remind yourself of the basics and establish your reputation as an expert.
While teaching can feel rewarding at first, it can also be exhausting in the long run if you’re doing it pro bono. Just remember to set your boundaries. If you can teach a paid class, that’s even better.
Get a mentor. Apart from teaching others, we also need to be taught. Is there a colleague or a leading expert who can serve as your mentor? It could be someone you’re already in contact with, or someone whose work you’ve followed over the years.
Of course, if you pick someone who already knows you, you’ll benefit from having two-way communication. Your mentor can give you advice on your career options, as well as help you spot professional weaknesses.
Acquire new skills and apply them. Whether you attend formal classes or become self-taught, continuous learning can help you get to the next level of your career. If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself which skills will improve the quality of your work.
It’s worth remembering that signing up for a class or seminar doesn’t automatically enhance your career. Make sure that you also build working experience with the skills you’ve learned.
As online freelancing becomes increasingly competitive, we need to make sure that our careers are moving forward. How do you prevent stagnation in your own freelancing practice?