The Influential Freelancer

Jan 21, 2014

**What kind of freelancer are you? **Network-rich or house-bound? Business suit or PJ’s? Enjoying your freedom or longing for the 9-5?

This week, we unveiled your new roadmap to freelance nirvana: The Freelancers Pyramid of Self-Actualization, a semi-serious name for your super-serious path from pawn to Project Killer, Client Czar, and Director of Gig Domination, to someone who gives back and builds what’s good.

Find where you are on the Pyramid and look up to see where you’re headed as each level of the Pyramid is unveiled in the coming week. You’ll get tips on how to rise up the ranks and become your best freelance self through wit, guts, and heart. Tell us where you fit and share your freelance goals in the comments below.

Level 2: Influential Freelancer

You’re an Influential Freelancer. You’ve mastered the art of networking, you’re seen by others as a successful, influential business owner, and you’re highly sought after by clients who want access to your unique, creative, or masterful skills.

Master of the elements: You know your own worth and have deep-level mastery of your skills -- which also means you’re unafraid to learn new things. This constant learning allows you to see changes before they happen, so you can plan, adapt, and take advantage of new developments. As a thought leader in your field, you no longer worry about “fitting in” or being acceptable to clients and peers and focus on making your own opportunities.

Saving and planning ahead: Stable income and good insurance allows you to focus on what’s important: doing work you care about and building relationships with friends, family, and other people who do what they love. You’re saving well and planning for retirement.

Strong networks yield constant work. Clients usually seek you out, but if you ever have a gap, you know you can tap into your strong network to easily find gigs. You probably maintain a robust online presence and are gaining a loyal (though not necessarily large) online following. You may start to subcontract to deal with overflow.

Proud to be indie! You understand that independence allows you to be your whole self, love your work, and expand creatively. You only take clients who respect your unique abilities and aren’t just looking for cookie-cutter work, or projects that will allow you to expand or grow for one of your long-term goals.

Think the Influential Freelancer is the tops? Once you have recognition, esteem, and a strong network, it’s time to see how you fit into a larger local and national movement and why every one of your actions matter. Start giving back and become a leader in the movement to build a better future as a 360 Freelancer:

  • Read the definition of New Mutualism, so that you can begin to understand why freelancers leading a New Mutualist life are the most successful, happy, and connected.
  • Think deeply about your personal values. What matters to you?
  • Then connect those values with your community. Which local and national organizations also support those values? How can you get involved with these organizations?
  • Is there an organization, business, or facility that doesn’t exist that you believe your local or national community needs that embodies these values? Or, do you see an emerging need (perhaps one that hasn’t even been fully articulated yet) that you believe you have an opportunity or mission to resolve? To help stimulate your ideas, learn about social entrepreneurship or attend a conference to meet other people who have innovated to create social good.
  • Attend a Freelance 360 event in your area.
  • Mentor other freelancers or creative professionals who are just starting out.
  • While you’re thinking big, don’t forget to think small. Make smart purchasing decisions. Which companies do your $ support? Do those companies support your values?
  • You have already built your own safety nets in terms of insurance and retirement. But do these insurance and financial systems themselves support your values? Are there organizations that do, like Freelancers Union?
  • In your everyday relating with clients, family, and friends, consciously restructure your relationships towards giving, not taking. Watch these relationships deepen and expand.

Are you an Influential Freelancer?