Uncertain Living as a Freelancer. Tête-à-Tête Business
It’s been almost five years since I first discovered freelance as a way of living for myself.
For a long time, I kept definition of freelance and business separate in my mind. When I started out as a newbie in the field of, as I used to define it, independent work from home I had no idea what a complex, demanding, and at times competitive venture it really was. And since usually the word business made me think about a tie and a black leather case, for a long time I was refusing to admit that freelance was also a very special kind of business.
Now, all those years later, freelance and business are some kind of synonyms for me. Because making a living as a freelancer means to be a good tête-à-tête businessman (woman).
Why you? The first client I lost.
My first year as a freelancer was a disaster.
For months and months, I’d been sending emails trying to reach people who could be interested in my services as a general translator. If someone saw those emails now I would fall under my desk, blushing to death. But back then I thought it was pretty decent to use: ‘maybe I could do some translation for your blog?’ or ‘I don’t have much experience but I always wanted to try to be a freelance translator,’ and other embarrassing, unprofessional things like that in my ‘business’ proposals. And when someone, after many months of silence, finally replied to me I was over the moon happy.
Nevertheless, that letter that I received back was short and hit the aim at once. It said: ‘Why do you think I would want to hire you?’
Genius question, kind of simple but at that moment I had no idea how to answer. And my lack of answer to that question showed a lot.
It showed that I did not have enough experience, that I had no idea what being a freelancer meant, and that I had no skills to productively communicate with my potential clients which meant I was yet clueless of what job of a freelancer was actually about. And it was not just about translating.
As you can guess, I did not get that job and for another few months I was wallowing in self-pity, thinking I was just not made for being a freelancer. But that brilliant question never left my mind. And finding the answer to that question was my first and the most important step in the field.
Now, why do you think your client would want to hire you? I will talk in more details about it in my next blog post, so stay tuned.
But it’s not a secret, making a living as a freelancer means to be ready for financial uncertainty since there is no one to take responsibility for your paycheck at the end of each month but you.
This is why freelance is just as much a business as selling notebooks online or having a book shop because just as in any business in order to be successful you have to not just be a good specialist in this or that field, but also know how to present yourself, sell your skills, communicate, earn respect among your clients and other professionals in the field, organize your work, take care of finances so your freelance work stayed afloat and you did not die from starvation, and other things like that.
This is why I think of freelance as of a personal business or in other words, a tête-à-tête business.
What is tête-à-tête business?
It’s the kind of business where there are only you and your clients and no one in between. Every single detail; finding a client, making sure your work together is comfortable and productive, taking care of all possible (at times even impossible) difficulties popping up here and there during the work, grow personally and work tirelessly on your professional skills, etc.
In other words, everything in your job as a freelancer, depends on you. If you would like to know what skills you need in order to succeed in tête-à-tête business, let me know in the comment section below and I will make a detailed blog post on the subject.
But despite how complex freelance work may seem it’s actually can be fun and serve as a great way to constantly grow personally and professionally. Your clients are not just numbers, faceless signs on papers anymore but real people who can add a value to your life.
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My appreciations to each and every of you.