• Advice

How to build a successful career doing work you love

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Why are you here? As a creative, the plan was never to maintain the status quo. You are here to make a difference, do meaningful work, and impact the world in a positive way. Am I right?

As a business coach for creative freelancers and business owners, one of my core beliefs is that everybody, without exception, is born with a unique gift or talent. And it’s not enough that we have this gift. It’s our duty to share it with people who need our services.

Now, if you’re feeling a little resistance (or even rolling your eyes) right now, I get it! The first time I heard that, I thought “Who am I to claim a special talent or gift?”. Before becoming a business coach, I was in creative management. But as my career and life evolved, it became clear that, as much as I enjoyed it, I was called to do more than represent a handful of creative professionals. I saw a need in the community for tools and resources that would help many more freelancers and creative entrepreneurs get better clients, do great work, and thrive. And so, my coaching business was born.

I never looked back.

If you can’t shake the feeling that you have more to say and do that you currently are, congratulations! You’re ready to re-define what you do, whom you do it for and how their lives will be transformed for the better because of it.

Here are 5 ways to define and align your gift with your business:

Lose the labels

What you do is just a vehicle for effecting positive change in the world. Instead of giving yourself a label e.g. graphic designer or photographer, focus on how your clients benefit from working with you instead.

So instead of saying “I’m a graphic designer” try something like “I create brand identities and websites that help socially-driven businesses build their visibility, increase revenue and, as a result, do greater good in the world”.

Use roadblocks you’ve encountered

Think about the roadblocks you’ve overcome and how they brought out your natural talent or deepest passion. I would never have started my coaching business if the recession of 2008 hadn’t nearly put my creative management agency out of business and forced me to re-examine everything. I have other clients for whom 9/11 was a defining moment, either by putting them out of work, or inspiring them to pursue something they’d always wanted to try, but were scared to.

See your talents through another’s eyes

Noticing what people come to you for can be enlightening. The talent others see in you is often VERY different from what you’re actually doing for a living. For example, ever since I can remember people have come to me for advice. Not a big factor in my representation business, but a huge asset in my career as a coach. Start noticing what clients, colleagues or friends continually come to you for and let that inform your direction.

Ask how you can serve others

When you approach your work as an opportunity to be of service to others, rather than a vehicle for making money, you see the world differently and will give everything you do meaning. Ironically, when we seek to benefit others before ourselves, the money follows!

Share your values

I recently spoke with a client who feels passionately about helping community-based, socially conscious business thrive. While his values have always centered around community, it didn’t translate into his work. By identifying and stating your values (go ahead, write them on your website!) you attract like-minded clients.

Still not sure what your secret sauce is? Download my free guide How to Find High Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth, and learn how to build a creative business or career around your unique gift.

Justine Clay has been helping freelance creative talent build thriving careers for more than 15 years. She began her career in creative representation and, in 2010, launched her coaching business. Working with freelance creative professionals and entrepreneurs of all types, Justine teaches her clients how to position, market and profit from their creative expertise through one-on-one coaching, group programs, talks and workshops.

Justine Clay Justine Clay is a speaker, writer, business coach, & ADHD life coach for creative entrepreneurs & freelancers. Sign up for her free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients & Get Paid What You’re Worth

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