By Barb Baylor Anderson, Anderson & Associates
Where do you start with offering freelance advice, and how do you condense it into 300 words? Good questions. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I will share my two cents.
First, I would not have wanted to spend the bulk of my ag communications career any other way, even though getting started in freelancing was intimidating. If it were not for a couple of veteran freelancers at the time who were graciously willing to answer my questions and editors willing to give me a chance, it may have been even more of a challenge (thanks Sara Wyant, Gregg Hillyer, Jerilyn Johnson, Marcia Taylor and others). It is important to share what you know with others.
Second, I keep several sayings pinned to my office bulletin board that I consider foundations for freelance philosophy. In fact, if I were to remove them, there probably are dark spots underneath the paper. The sun shining into the window has not had a chance to fade the burlap background they’ve been there so long. Not that I have been freelancing for 25-plus years or anything…
So here is a glimpse of my bulletin board, and the thoughts that motivate my business:
- Always give your clients your enthusiastic best.
- Mind the store. No one cares about your business the way you do.
- Keep expectations high. Keep overhead low.
- Listen to your critics. They will keep you focused and innovative.
- Remember winners do what losers don’t want to do.
- When someone wants to hire you, even if it’s for a job you have little interest in, talk to them. Never close the door on an opportunity until you’ve had a chance to hear the offer in person.
- Forget committees. New, noble, world-changing ideas always come from one person, working alone.
Finally, my advice is to establish a niche. Two of the questions on my bulletin board ask, “What is my overlooked opportunity today? What is my enduring passion?” Where passion and skill interact is the best place to establish a rewarding freelance business. Agriculture is dynamic, and the diverse people you get to meet and work with as a freelancer make it all worthwhile.