Navigating an Unconventional Career Path | Brian Honigman | Skillshare

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Navigating an Unconventional Career Path

teacher avatar Brian Honigman, Marketing Consultant | Professor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction: Crafting an Unconventional Career


    • 2.

      Why Work Outside the 9-5?


    • 3.

      Start with Your Existing Skills and Work Experience


    • 4.

      Career Paths in Freelance Work


    • 5.

      Diversifying Your Workload


    • 6.

      Set Clear Terms For Each Project


    • 7.

      Getting Paid


    • 8.

      Promoting Your Expertise


    • 9.

      Networking: Finding Clients, Freelance Friends, and Mentors


    • 10.

      Conclusion: Freelancing for the Long-Term


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About This Class

Thinking of going freelance or investing time in a side project? It’s hard to know where to start as full-time jobs are the type of work we’re most familiar with as other options get glossed over. This class is a realistic and modern exploration of building an unconventional career. 

Join Brian Honigman, a freelancer for six years and counting, in this course on how to achieve your career goals as a professional interested in operating outside the nine to five, whether that’s investing time in a side-hustle, becoming a full-time freelancer or starting your own business.

Diving into a non-conventional career can be challenging for many as there’s less certainty about which direction to take and why as compared to a traditional, full-time role that often provides a clearer path for progression either outlined by a company or your supervisor. 

To succeed in an unconventional career path, you’ll learn how to:

  • Identify your career goals. More flexibility? More creative work? You get to decide.
  • Take on projects and new opportunities based on your existing skills and experience.
  • Find and analyze different career paths outside the nine to five that are right for you.
  • Diversify your work portfolio to take on more than one work opportunity at a time.
  • Organize the projects, gigs, and clients you’re working with to align with your preferences.
  • Get paid to do work that pays the bills, provides stability and helps fulfill you creatively.
  • Promote yourself without feeling icky to ensure the right people know how to hire you.
  • Network with the right people that can help open doors and offer support.

Whether you’re a first time freelancer or have a thriving side hustle, by the end of this class you’ll learn how to take on the work arrangement you’ve always wanted or maybe a path you didn’t know existed, succeed financially and above-all, gain more freedom by defining career success on your own terms.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Brian Honigman

Marketing Consultant | Professor


Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant helping NGOs, media brands, and tech companies succeed with their strategy around digital marketing, content marketing, and social media.

Brian is an adjunct professor at New York University's School of Professional Studies, an instructor at Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning, and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Next Web.

Named a "digital marketing expert" by Entrepreneur and a "top social media pro" by Social Media Examiner, Brian delivers strategic consulting, coaching, and training for marketers and leaders at the United Nations, People Magazine, Thomson Reuters, the Weather Company, Asana, and Sprout Social.

You can subscribe to his newsletter and learn how to approach marketing the right w... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Crafting an Unconventional Career: To this day, I still get asked by family and friends, what is it exactly that you do again? That's because I don't have a traditional full-time job as I'm self-employed and have built a career for myself, focused on a couple different areas. Hey there, I'm Brian Honigman and I'm a freelance marketing consultant and NYU Adjunct Professor based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today, I'm going to teach you how to navigate an unconventional career. For the last six years, I've been working for myself by educating organizations on how to drive success for marketing. Whether that's hosting training workshops for the United Nations, coaching leaders at People Magazine, consulting for growing tech companies, and writing about marketing for the Wall Street Journal and Adweek. Throughout my time as an independent contractor, I've experienced the upsides of having more control over my time and what work I decided to take on, as well as the challenges that come along with it. Unlike a traditional nine to five position, there's far less clarity on what direction you're supposed to take and how to best organize your day-to-day when working for yourself. If you're looking to go freelance full-time, start a side hustle, or you're already working on it, then this class is for you. I'll be talking about how to set your own career goals, where to get started with freelance work, the range of options available to you, why it's important to diversify your workload, how to get paid, promote yourself and more. You'll finish this class with a strong understanding of what you'll need to thrive in an unconventional career so you can focus more time on perfecting your craft and less on the business details. There's a misconception that self-employment is just a stopgap between jobs, but it really can be a long-term career path with the right approach as it has been for me. I'm excited to share my experience with you, so let's get started. 2. Why Work Outside the 9-5?: Working for yourself is a career path that rarely gets explored in school and wasn't likely an option your parents brought up either. Due to this lack of exposure to self-employment, the benefits of working outside in 95 aren't as clear and knowing what goals to focus on can be overwhelming at first. My advice for setting clear freelance goals is to break them down into two categories. The first is structuring how you wish to work, and the second is defining what specifically you want to work on. The first category is setting goals for how you wish to structure your career in terms of who you work with, what work environments you like, how often you're working, your pervert work style and more. For example, a goal of mine when first exploring freelance was to be able to work from home most of the time, as I prefer to work in quiet places as it helps me stay focused. To inform the work structure goals you'll set for yourself, let's review the benefits of being self-employed and identify which aligns with your particular preferences. At a high level, the key benefits of working outside the 9-5 the flexibility to set your own schedule, more freedom to explore different kinds of projects, the ability to work remotely, control the types of gigs you take on and diversifying your finances. One of my favorite parts of being a freelancer is getting to choose how I spend my time based on the work I need to get done and what's happening in my personal life. I work as many hours as a person in a full-time salary position, if not more at times, but my schedule affords me the flexibility to start my day earlier or later as I choose, depending on what i'm working on in a given week. I don't believe working eight-hour workday for the sake of it means you're more productive. It really comes down to what you're accomplishing in those hours you do work. Having control over the hours you spend working can give you the opportunity to take more vacations, spend more time volunteering or focus on a hobby you care about. With extra time in the work day, you would even experiment with different types of work to see what you like, find out what you're good at, and discover what's really profitable for you. Depending on your skills and the project you're taking on, working remotely from home, a coffee shop, or a co-working space is another popular perk of going freelance. Having control over what types of projects you take on and the clients you want to work with is another huge benefit of working for yourself. Earning income from a range of projects and clients can also help provide you with greater control of your finances overall. The advantage here is that you're not relying on a single salary to support yourself, but instead you've got options to stay financially secure, especially when something unexpected pops up. Ideally, some of these benefits to freelance are appealing to you and may likely be one of the goals you're looking to achieve in your own career. The second category is outlining goals for what you'd like to work on. Whether that's Graphic Design, recording podcasts, being a professional organizer, or maybe it's a mix of all three. These goals should be focused on what industries you'd like to work in, the types of projects you'd like to take on and what you'd like to accomplish with this particular focus. In the beginning, one of my goals was landing a large marketing project with an enterprise client and to use that experience as an example to attract similar projects. Other freelancers might be focused on writing a TV script for 2020 or learning more speaking gigs in the next quarter. The goals you choose to focus on however big or small will all depend on what you're trying to achieve and what the time frame is. Don't stress if you aren't sure what you're looking for yet, as no one has it figured out entirely, and many of your goals will develop over time. As you take this class, reference the project worksheet provided below as it includes helpful prompts and questions for you to fill out after finishing each video. By completing the class project, you'll have a much clearer sense of what your ideal unconventional career looks like and what steps need to take to make it a reality. 3. Start with Your Existing Skills and Work Experience: Most people fail at unorthodox careers because they never get started. They may have some interests and being self-employed, or changing up the way their work schedule is structured, but are just confused as to how to actually begin. My recommendation for when you're first starting out with independent work, is to aim to bring on projects align with your existing skills and work experience. Think through your work history, educational background, any certifications, and review your resume, to make a list of the roles, tasks, and responsibilities you've had to date. The point of this process is to sift through these skills, and see which is best suited for some form of freelance work. This could be anything from your mastery of Adobe InDesign, your world-class negotiation skills, or your experience with data entry. For instance, were you responsible for building out the presentations, whenever your team needed to share their ideas at a past job? Were you any good at it? If yes, you might consider exploring freelance presentation design as your sole focus, or as one of the many ways you'll make money on your own. One of the aspects we want to look for when sifting through your skills, is what work experiences you can demonstrate with specific examples. This matters, as you'll eventually want to use these examples to showcase the quality of your work as part of a portfolio, to share with your potential clients. For me, I did a lot of writing in my past roles, crafting blog posts, white papers, social media copy, e-mail newsletters, and press releases. When I got started, doing freelance writing was the most natural first step to taking on my own projects. I could use the pieces I wrote for past jobs, as examples to highlight in my portfolio. I think it is so important just to get started based off of what you already know. Because the sooner you begin, the sooner you start gaining experience, building confidence, and earning money to build a foundation for your own unconventional career. A mistake I've seen too often with new freelancers, is trying to start by taking on projects they don't have enough experience or expertise in yet. If you wanted to begin self-employment by focusing on landing public speaking gigs, which is a very competitive field that requires a lot of experience before you're able to attract these opportunities, unless you're already a known business executive from the C-suite. This approach is ill-advised, because it could stall your efforts with starting off as a freelancer entirely, which is obviously not an ideal situation. A more effective approach for the short term, is a take on the work that's more readily available now, based on your experience. Then, as you're supporting yourself with that more immediate freelance work, you can spend some of your time building your expertise in public speaking, to eventually gain those types of engagements in the long-term. It is really a practice of prioritizing the work that you'll be able to take on and attract at first, so you can support yourself, and so you have the time in the future to bring on the work you're more excited about. Freelance writing was my foundation when I first started working for myself, as it was something that I had the skills for, an experienced with, and demand for it from other businesses. As a result, I was able to build a freelance career with writing to support myself financially and eventually, grow as a consultant and offer other services over the years. Starting where you're at today, is one of the best ways to build a lasting foundation for your unconventional career. 4. Career Paths in Freelance Work: By its very nature, an unconventional career through self-employment looks very different for everyone. So what are the most common pathways and types of freelance work available? Let's dive in so you're familiar with the many options you should consider when building a career on your terms. This chart from the consulting firm McKinsey, has a very helpful breakdown of the four types of independent workers, and which are the most common options today. At a high level, there are free agents whose primary income comes from freelancing as it's their full time focus. Then there's a casual earner who makes their supplemental income with freelancing as their only focused on it part-time as a side hustle. It's important to note that 70 percent of people take this career path by choice, but 30 percent are forced to do so due to financial need listed here as reluctance and financially strapped. With these categories of independent workers in mind, there are three types of freelance work arrangements to consider: long-term contract work, project-based clients, and platform based work. Long-term contract work is when a company retains an independent worker for their services for six months, a year, or longer, both the definitive and date in mind. These arrangements are typically the only client a freelancer works with during that time period as is their full time focus. This type of contract does resemble being a full-time employee, but instead of a salary and benefits, you're paid an hourly fee or based on project milestones. You have more control over how your time is spent as a partner to the company, and there's flexibility on where you're working from based on your contract. Like how a colleague of mine worked at a large clothing brand as an e-commerce consultant for a year, helping their team build out a new website and a product and merchandising strategy. For two days a week, she'd worked from their office with their team, and the rest of her time she spent working remotely on tasks related to the project. This is a wonderful arrangement for new freelancers, just diving into the realm of self-employment as it's consistent work and it's fairly similar to being an employee. Yet these long-term contracts may feel limiting to other independent workers as your time and income are all tied to one client, which reduces your overall versatility. Next is project-based clients, which is probably the most popular and well-known type of freelance work. It's when a company hires you to complete a specific project, like planning an event or providing a deliverable, like designing a flyer or writing a series of blog posts. These projects tend to be short-term and focus on small to medium-sized tasks that a company is looking to complete. This could be anything from being a project manager for a client for a month, or photographing the latest dishes for a restaurant's new menu. Project-based clients are my primary focus as they comprise 80 percent of the work I'm doing at any one time, whether that's leading a workshop for marketers, or writing a white paper for a client. The upside of project-based work is that you can take on multiple projects at once so you're not overly reliant on any one company for your work, creativity, or your income. You also own the relationships with these clients as you're working with them directly, giving you more control over the project scope, and how you interface with the company. The difficult part of project-based clients is that you have to continually promote yourself to gain their attention, and then pitch yourself to earn their business over and over again. We'll discuss how to do this later in the course, but promoting yourself based on why you offer to businesses can be a challenge for many, especially when first freelancing. The third type is platform based work, which has significantly grown in popularity over the last decade with the internet and advances in technology. Often referred to as gigs as many these projects don't require any experience to start, but as a result, don't pay much compared to other types of freelance work. These platforms typically allow any independent worker to access one-off tasks in exchange for payment. Like driving people to their destinations, for the ride-sharing service Lyft, helping customers with projects around the house on TaskRabbit, or delivering food from local restaurants via the.Caviar app. However, not all these platforms are low paying as there's many that provide access to higher caliber opportunities like listing your property on Airbnb, getting hired for enterprise writing projects on Contently, or selling handcrafted products on Etsy. The best part of platform based work is that you can start taking on some of these tasks right away, regardless of your experience, while others bring client work directly to you. The drawback is the pay on many of these platforms can be quite low, you're required to work under their specific guidelines, and you don't have a direct relationship with the customers you're interacting with there. To bring you up to speed on the many platform based options out there, check out this list of 100 gig style jobs to consider. When possible, aim to creep platform based opportunities as just one part of your overall mix of independent work so you're not too reliant on jobs you don't have full control over. As you can see, you've really got options when it comes to building your own career. It just depends on which of these choices aligns with your goals, expectations, and experience. 5. Diversifying Your Workload: Phrases like jack of all trades, master of none, have led many to think that focusing on multiple things in their career is bad in all scenarios when in practice, diversifying your workload is one of the most effective ways to build a lasting freelance career that provides you with a balance of stability and flexibility. Prior to working for myself, I stayed at a job that it was no longer happy with simply because I didn't have any other work to rely on, something I'll never let happen again. Since then, I have diversified my workload over the years into a portfolio of multiple projects and commitments mixed amongst teaching, writing, coaching, and consulting. According to author Charles Handy and his book, The Age of Unreason, "a work portfolio is a way of describing how the different bits of work in your life fit together to form a balanced whole." Create a portfolio to organize and conceptualize how the different parts of your career intersect and to showcase your most beneficial work experience to potential clients. Set one up on your website or using a free service like Carbonmade, Behance, Adobe portfolio, Contently, or elsewhere, depending on the types of work examples you are featuring on industry you're active in. Diversifying your career across a mixed portfolio of projects matters for a few reasons. Having options allows you to make room for a range of work that reflects your variety of talents and interests so you stay excited and engaged in the projects you're taking on. A mixed approach reduces the impact of losing a client or a project ending as you always have more than one source of income to rely on to support yourself. Control of your schedule is another major benefit as you're able to plan your day at around a mix of projects as opposed to committing your entire week to just one job. This way, you can make room to grow and try new things professionally or even remove certain kinds of work that you no longer like or isn't profitable. Remember, the work you take on is unique to you and might feature an assortment of project based clients, platform work, or maybe even a long-term contract along the way. You might be a self-employed accountant, Lyft driver, and mono property owner, or maybe you're focused on graphic design projects in addition to selling art prints on Etsy. Think of each part of your portfolio as one step closer to controlling your circumstances and one step further away from having limited options. 6. Set Clear Terms For Each Project: Freelancers get taken advantage of when they don't have a contract with their clients. I've seen a lot of smart and motivated people start projects with no contract in place and sometimes this results in getting paid late or not at all. The key to a long-lasting career as a self-employed professional is by clearly defining the terms of each project by negotiating, creating a proposal, and signing a contract. A quick note that the contracting process doesn't typically apply to platform based work since you're tied to following their guidelines as they are. Setting clear terms for a project starts with negotiating, which is the process of each party discussing what they hope to accomplish with their project and their particular needs. The company typically shares what they're looking for help on, the goal of the task, the time frame for there project, and the fee that they're willing to pay. From there, the freelancer shares how they would recommend approaching the engagement either in line with the company suggestions or by offering a different opinion entirely. When both sides have a general sense of what the project will look like, the freelancer creates a proposal to flesh out any details in writing. A proposal is a document that an independent worker produces to outline how they plan to structure a project, its timeline, their fees with the engagement, and other key details. The proposal isn't legally binding, but it's meant to further inform the discussion of the project amongst all parties before building out the more formal contract. Depending on the complexity of the project, the proposal can be very lengthy and comprehensive, or short, into the point. There's no one way to set up a proposal, but to provide some clarity on what this document looks like, take a look at my proposal template I've included below. This is what I've used over the years to outline the projects I'm pitching to clients. The template features sections; identifying the company's problem, a description of how the project will solve the issue, the project timeline, how success will be measured, payment terms, and more. I recommend making this template personalized to your needs, especially including elements that will help it stand out from other proposal a company is reviewing. For example, it's rare to include a video introducing yourself in a proposal and as a result, that might help you win the client. At this point, you and the potential client have reviewed the proposal and you'll either decide to not move forward or that you're in agreement and it's time to create a contract. A contract is a written agreement that outlines the details of a project, the expectations of both parties involved, and it's enforceable by law. Some clients will have a contract that they prefer you design which requires reviewing it to ensure the project is structured accurately and that your interests are protected. It is important to not just agree to the contract as is, but ask any questions you have and request any changes you'd like to see made. You'd be surprised how often freelancers don't push back on the terms of their contracts and accept them as they are to come off as easy to work with. While being pleasant to work with is important, it should never be at the expense of signing up for a project that isn't in your favor. The best-case scenario is to have a lawyer review your contracts to fully protect yourself from liability, but sometimes you can make an informed decision on your own as well. When it's up to you to create a contract to direct the terms of the project, it is important to have a template to rely on that you can adapt to serve different types of engagements. I highly recommend hiring a lawyer to create some templates for you to work from so there is support on every project. If you don't know where to find a lawyer, contact your local bar association, and they'll happily recommend someone aligned to your needs for free. In the resources section, I've included a couple of templates for freelancer contracts or reference as a starting point, but I still recommend working with a lawyer on these. The goal of the contract is to outline a guarantee for the client that they'll get the agreed upon deliverables as promised in a timely manner that you, as the independent contractor, get paid for your services and so each party agrees to the project scope. If there's ever an issue on either end, you can always refer back to the contract as the guiding document on how both parties should be collaborating. In the rare case that there's an issue like you provided some work and were never compensated, then the contract is your legal proof that you are owed a payment. While every contract is different, you will include many of the same sections that are in your proposal, but this time, more legal concerns will be addressed, like how to terminate the project if need be, the intellectual property rights, confidentiality, liability, and more. In my contracts for writing projects, I reserve the right to display the pieces I produced for a client as a part of my portfolio to attract more work. Another specific is that I often require half of the total payment upfront as a deposit before starting an engagement or one month's payment upfront on an ongoing project. Once finish, send the contract to the client for any feedback or changes and then once everyone is on the same page, both parties sign to make it a binding agreement. From negotiating to the proposal to the final contract, this is the most important process for ensuring you remain in control of the projects you're taking on. 7. Getting Paid: Money is a taboo subject that most people feel awkward talking about and dealing with but working for yourself requires you to be more open to managing your finances, and negotiating your payment with clients on a regular basis. You deserve to be paid for the value you bring to a project, and that starts with understanding the financial nuances of taking on freelance work. Let's dive into the three distinct areas of getting paid as a freelancer. Creating a business bank account, paying estimated taxes, and most importantly setting your own rates. When going full-time freelance in the US, you'll need to set up a separate business bank account since you now need to withhold and pay your own income taxes. Setting up a business bank account separate from your personal accounts is a straightforward process that you can have done at your local bank branch in- person. This account should be set up under your sole proprietorship as you're automatically considered a one-person business once you start taking on non- salary work. Getting started as a sole proprietor doesn't require registering with the state like setting up a corporation does, but always check your state's guidelines as requirements do differ. In most cases it's best to set up this bank account, and your business as a sole proprietorship at first. That's because it's free and it doesn't make sense to spend the money on filing to become an LLC, S-corp or another type of business entity until you're confident that you'll stick with independent work after the first six months or a year. Once it's set up you'll need to deposit all your earned income into this account moving forward for tax purposes, and keep track of all your revenue and business expenses. The next consideration to keep in mind is paying estimated taxes based on this record of revenue, and expenses four times a year on January, April, June, and September 15th. Since taxes aren't taken out of your income when self-employed, you're responsible for putting money aside and paying quarterly federal and state taxes yourself. This is probably one of the least glamorous aspects of working freelance, but once you've gotten used to saving for these taxes throughout the year it's not so bad. The easiest way to deal with this is by working with an accountant each year to have them determine what you owe quarterly. If you'd like to calculate it yourself then look at last year's tax return and divide the total taxes you paid that year by four, and that number is what you'll likely owe per payment. Now, the third consideration is establishing what your rates are for the services you're offering, which can be confusing as you certainly don't want to under or overcharge clients. Begin by thinking through whether it's best to charge an hourly rate based on how long the project will take to complete, a flat project fee accounting for the completion of milestones throughout their project or if you'll apply both types to different projects. One way to determine your hourly rate is to divide your previous full-time salary into the number of hours you've worked in a year as a starting number to think about. For example, if you made $50,000 in your last full time job and divide that number by 2,080 work hours in a year to determine that your hourly rate is $24. I'm not saying this is the final number to go with and it doesn't account for overhead and expenses, but it's a great starting point to reference. You'll still need to do research to get informed on what your experience is worth, the typical cost of executing your project and what clients expect to pay. I'd recommend reviewing any available pricing deal in your industry, like how shows the average price per bid per project or how Upwork shares the hourly rates and project costs of the freelancers on their platform. Take a look at the salary ranges of equivalent full-time roles on sites like LinkedIn,, Paysa, and Payscale to inform how a related project could be priced. I've found talking with other freelancers about how they price their projects would be extremely helpful as well. Of course, after we've gotten to know one another a bit. Most of all in many ways pricing your offerings is a trial and error process as you talk with potential clients, and they provide feedback on what they're willing to pay or not. Most freelancers price or services more affordably in the beginning, and work their way up to higher rates as they continue to gain experience, client testimonials and work examples to feature in their portfolio as that's what's really worked for me. Now, it's your turn to set your rates backed by research, so you can more confidently master your finances and get paid what you deserve. 8. Promoting Your Expertise: Becoming known for what you do is essential for a long-lasting freelance career, when you're first starting out working for yourself, it's important to make it known amongst your network that you're taking on freelance work. Most people aren't paying attention to changes in your work life, so it's up to you to alert them of what you're working on, with the hopes of them recommending you for a project. My advice is to update your online presence to reflect your renewed focus as a self-employed person, starting with LinkedIn and your website. Change the headline on your LinkedIn profile to express the type of work you're taking on, like marketing or transcription and that you're an independent contractor. People often do this on LinkedIn by listing their title paired with the word freelance like, updating it to say freelance writer, freelance developer or freelance graphic designer. From there, update the about slash summary section of your account to explain your independent work at a high level, how it connects to your work history, and how someone can get in contact with you about a project. Then add a new work experience entry to your profile to describe your focus as a freelancer as you would, a full-time position. If you have a website, update the homepage, the about us, the services pages and any other prominent sections that highlight what your focus is now as well. If you don't have a website for yourself yet, it's time to set one up using a free service like WordPress, Weebly or Wix, to make sure you're very easy to find online. Next, when first starting out, you've got to reach out to people in your network one on one, to let them know that you've gone freelance. While letting friends and family know that you've gone freelance won't hurt. Reaching out to industry colleagues and past co-workers will more likely lead to project referrals. Reach out to relevant contacts over e-mail or LinkedIn and say something like this, "Hi Nadia, I hope things are well with you, I know you've been leading the creative team at XYZ company for a few years now and I wanted to see if I could help with any upcoming video production projects you're working on. I went freelance last month and I'm taking on clients who need help with video editing, scripting, and transcription services. If you have any needs internally or you come across any opportunities in your network, please let me know. I'd be happy to chat about what I can offer when those opportunities do arise. Thank you." Make sure to link to your website or LinkedIn in your e-mail signature, so it's easy for them to learn more if they're interested. Remember to remain sensitive to the unique relationships you have with different contexts, as you don't want to send this exact pitch to someone you don't know. The goal here is to get recommended for projects by people who already trust you, especially in the beginning when you're trying to build a foundation for yourself. Beyond alerting your network, it is important to pitch people at companies that you don't know yet, to get on their radar and expand your visibility. Related to the services you provide as a freelancer, identify companies that have an issue you can help them with or are likely in need of your services in general. When I started out as a freelance writer, I pitched my writing services to dozens of technology companies that are producing blog posts, white papers, and e-books. My logic was that I had examples of similar types of writing to showcase on related topics in the technology space, if they were open to chatting with me further. This process required identifying the right people to pitch at these companies through searching on LinkedIn, as well as writing more formal pitches as they don't know me yet. I started each of these brief pitches by genuinely complementing the company's progress with content writing or identifying a problem I could help them fix, then, I briefly introduced myself, mentioned what companies I've worked with on similar tasks and how I can help support their efforts now as a freelancer. After that, I suggested we schedule a 15 minute call later that week, to see how we could partner to derive more results from their existing efforts. Between pitching my existing network and new contacts, I was able to land to my very first freelance writing clients. Make a list of 10 existing contacts you'll reach out to about freelance opportunities, as well as 10 new contacts you'll pitch yourself as well. While you'll need to pitch yourself more at the start, it's important to identify how you'll attract clients in the future far beyond pitching. My suggestion is to become known for your expertise by creating content to highlight your ideas and the work you've produced to share your skills, perspective, and experience. There are tons of ways to do this, either through writing articles on LinkedIn, creating and hosting a podcast on your industry, publishing your designs on Behance, regularly sharing your insights on social media and more. This is a prime example of showing versus telling, as you're letting your skills and experience speak for themselves, ideally, driving the right people to you. To share your expertise effectively, create content that clearly demonstrates the skills you offer as a freelancer and make sure it is shared where the right people can find it, like, if you're a freelance audio engineer, it makes sense to publish audio recordings you've mixed and reproduced and then share them on your website, SoundBetter or Spotify to reach potential clients or if you're a freelance writer, then publishing articles on Medium, LinkedIn or a popular trade publication, is one of the best ways of demonstrating your writing abilities. It's time for you to become known by publicly sharing your work with the world to get the attention of the right clients who want to hire you for your exceptional expertise. 9. Networking: Finding Clients, Freelance Friends, and Mentors: Networking doesn't have to be fake or forced. Done right with a plan in mind, networking can help you build friendships with colleagues, identify mentors worth following, and attract clients to grow your business. You want to build relationships with like-minded professionals that offer similar services, operate in industries you're active in, and who are ideally freelancers themselves. It is important to have an overlapping focus with the people you're connecting with because it'll make it easier to build a real bond with them over your shared interests and it'll be more clear as to how you can support one another, whether that's referring clients to each other, keeping an eye out for relevant speaking opportunities and more. I recommend using LinkedIn and Twitter to research freelancers in your space, especially any that are local so there's an opportunity to meet them in person eventually but at first, it can be a little difficult to get the attention of others when you're just getting started. It's hard to know what you're actually supposed to talk about when first introducing yourself to these potential contacts. I felt that the best way to address both concerns is identifying what you can offer a person before reaching out and frame your outreach to them around that as the focus. For example, I've reached out to freelancers I wanted to get to know by asking if I could interview them in an article I was writing, as most of them were industry experts. This way I was greatly increasing the chances of these new connections responding to my outreach, not to mention adding expert opinions to my articles. These phone calls would primarily focus on me interviewing them for the article, but it was also an opportunity to briefly introduce myself and get to know them in the process. The goal here is to provide value to the people I'm reaching out to from the very first conversation with the hopes of building a lasting professional relationship with them and in most cases I have, there are lots of ways for you to do this from inviting someone to be a guest on your podcasts, supporting them on social media, introducing them to another connection, sharing helpful resources with them and more. In the future, it is certainly appropriate to ask for help from the context you've built a real relationship with as long as you're being respectful and reasonable. I can't stress enough how important it is to foster connection with multiple people so you're not repeatedly asking for support from the same small group of individuals. In addition to proactively maintaining your relationships, fostering new ones and being helpful, networking is an opportunity to learn from the smartest minds in your industry. I recommend finding a few people online that achieved their level of success that you would like for yourself. Whether that's landing a book deal, building a team, getting more coaching gigs, and then try to reverse engineer their accomplishments. The aim isn't to copy them outright but figure out what steps they took to achieve success for the particular activity so you can emulate their results yourself. For me, I've been following marketers like Jay Baer and Ekaterina Walter for years now monitoring what they've been doing to build fruitful careers so I can learn from their strategy. I consider these individuals to be virtual mentors as they're providing insights into how to navigate my career without me needing to communicate with them regularly. While having virtual mentors to follow and learn from is beneficial, I do recommend finding some mentors that you can occasionally speak to and work with directly as well. With these tactics in mind, start small by communicating with two different contexts every week to build a network of people you can rely on for support and vice versa. 10. Conclusion: Freelancing for the Long-Term: You've done it, you've completed the course and are now, well on your way to building your career that works for you. While the path of working for yourself isn't for everyone, it is a viable option for anyone that wants it. Now it's your turn to create your own goals, decide what makes of freelance work you'll go after, set your project rates and jump start your networking efforts. I've learned that sustaining a freelance career for the long-term requires patients, strategy and persistence to achieve your ambitions and overcome the tough challenges. What's worked for me is diversifying the projects and taking on, being purposeful with the types of clients you decide to work with and continually sharing my ideas through content. Like anything in life, success with freelancing doesn't come quickly, as it takes time to build the lucrative, fulfilling career you've always hoped for. But I promise, it'll be worth the wait. I urge you to complete the project worksheet, so you can use it as a blueprint to navigate your career more easily. Once you're finished, please share your worksheet in the project gallery below, so the other students and I can provide feedback on how you might improve your plan. Of course, if you have any other freelance or career-related questions, leave them in the comments below, and I'll happily answer them as soon as I can. Thank you so much for taking my course, and best of luck on building a career on your own terms.