(The image above stands for FREELANCERS UNION, clearly.)
*Potential spoilers ahead.*
As upstanding, moral freelance citizens, you may be skeptical about what House of Cards’ Francis Underwood and a cast of conniving characters can teach you about anything.
But in Season 2, when Frank famously says:
It got us thinking: many freelancers begin as doormats (walked all over by their clients), and the more experience you get, the more you boldly take control of your own careers. And how do we go from doormat to matador? As always, Frank has a plan.
Our own Mark Snyder - Writer and Secretary of the Edward Meechum Fanclub - decodes Frank’s life lessons:
1. Pay attention to details
Small, seemingly insignificant, tasks will add up to a glorious big picture. A small business owner’s life will run smoothly when they take the time to make sure the details are in place.
2. Choose strong allies
Don’t be intimidated by other people doing the same things or offering the same types of services. Find ways to collaborate - you never know how a fellow freelancer is going to impact your own business! Aligning yourself with the right people can mean the difference between success and failure.
3. Expand your reach by reading
Freelancer or not, we are all citizens and you can’t just consider one perspective. Don’t be afraid to consult an array of resources and opinions. Your influences should be wide and far-reaching. If you find yourself pitching an article about the hip new restaurant scene in St. Louis, you need to find out everything else that’s already been said, so you that you offer a fresh and informed angle.
4. FInd creative ways to say thank you
If someone helps you out, it’s not enough to say “Oh, I owe you a favor.” How can you find a way to say, “I appreciate you as a person, not just what you did for me”? Find them a creative gift -- even one that you didn’t spend much money on, but suits their tastes. Reservations at popular (i.e. difficult to get) restaurants are a great gesture -- non-monetary, but definitely appreciated. And showing your thoughtfulness is a tremendous asset to your own brand.
5. Take time out to strategize
Don’t forget to pause for reflection and to a temperature of where you’re at in the progress of your career. If you have a 6-month business plan, stop at 6 months and figure out where you’re at: “What from my original plan am I doing right, what am I doing wrong, and where am I falling short?” Not in a negative way -- but just trying to figure out what next steps will get you to the next level of success. You’re not just connecting dots, you’re finding out what makes you happy and going for it - just like Frank and Claire do every hour of House of Cards!
Freelancers, what have you learned from House of Cards?