The struggle is real for the artist who faces a blank screen or a blank canvas. The struggle is even more real for the artist who has to compromise his/her work for the sake of making a living.
The term ‘sellout’ might be a bit too harsh for these people. While many consider the term ‘sellout’ to be derogative, it has worked wonders for artists like The Beatles or Michelangelo to become the best at what they’re known for.
As an artist or creator of original content, it is essential that you do work that does justice to your aspirations, even if it is just on a part-time basis.
Part-time gigs are a great way to flourish your inner yearnings while making some bucks on the side.
If you’re working in a day-job that is not the one you’ve always dreamed of, part-time gigs are a great way to find your true calling.
Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a writer or be a music composer, but I also had a knack for technology. Now, although my day job is in technology, which is very close to me, I use platforms like ShoutMeLoud, my own personal platform, and other such portals to channel the inner writer within me.
Finding Freelancing Gigs Without Being A Sellout
Assuming a major proportion of the audience here at ShoutMeLoud are full-time or part-time bloggers to some extent, I’ll channel the focus of this article to that demographic. Although this article is primarily targeted toward bloggers, if you deal with original content in any form, you can leverage these same principles to your own industry and be the best at what you do.
Narrow Down Your Part-Time Gig Search
Instead of taking up any random part-time gig for making ends meet, you would be better off looking for part-time gigs that complement your full-time work or your long-term goals (if they’re not the same).
When someone is too desperate to make ends meet, it is often the case that they’re more likely to accept anything and everything that comes their way.
Once you’ve decided to look for part-time gigs, it is essential to:
- Define your goals.
- Set your expectations.
- Figure out how you can channel this work to get better at what you want to become.
One possible way is to narrow down your search scope. If you wish to become a better blogger on the content creation end, narrow your search to freelance writing positions. If it is the post-content-creation period you care about most, look for gigs related to SMM, SEO, marketing, etc.
Whatever it is that you’re passionate about the most, try finding gigs that are a close match. Also, during this time, learn to form a thick skin.
Also, learn to say no to gigs that you would only take for the money. You will eventually lose motivation, and it is an ugly situation for both parties.
Forget About Freelancing Platforms
Now, this might sound counter-intuitive to anyone reading this article, but bear with me here.
Freelancing platforms like Contentmart, Freelancer, Toptal, etc., although touted as the best ways to find part-time gigs, aren’t what you’re looking for.
From my personal experience, and from what I’ve heard from many others, it is very hard to break into any of these platforms if you are fresh off the slate and have no previous work or clients to vouch for you.
Most of these platforms have become somewhat crowded, and it is very hard for a newcomer to stand against a 20-year industry veteran and an active user of the platform since its launch.
You should be on these platforms if you can bring with you prior work to showcase and clients who will testify on your behalf. If this is not you, these platforms are better left out if you’re just getting started. This is in no way to discourage aspiring artists, but it is something you’ll probably learn the hard way if you chose to go this route.
Network, Network, And Network Some More
If you believe that online portals are the only way to land your dream gig, you’re completely mistaken.
Connections thrive on human contact and nothing can replace a human interaction. Finding relevant meetups and conferences is a great way to get to know people in your industry.
If you follow ShoutMeLoud closely, you can see the sheer number of events Harsh Agrawal attends.
Make it a habit of attending relevant meetups and striking up a conversation with the people there. You might end up landing your dream gig from one such event. Even if that doesn’t happen, chances are pretty high that you would leave with some key takeaways and a bunch of connections.
As much as personal networking is important, make sure you also leave your digital footprint with a business card when you attend such meetups. Also, connect with people and make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and a personal website.
The power of personal branding can not be emphasized more when you’re trying to breakthrough into a new industry.
Master The Art Of Cold Emailing
Some consider cold emailing equivalent to spamming, but I beg to differ.
If you can master the art of cold emailing, your emails won’t be auto-tagged as spam and you’ll also have a higher likelihood of getting response.
It is all in the way you start off and end your emails. This deserves an article altogether…
For starters, don’t put cold emailing off as a method for making new connections or seeking new opportunities.
I have personally tried this, and although it doesn’t guarantee you success, it helps you make better connections.
Cold emailing starts when you pick your subject line. Make a mistake here, and your email probably won’t be opened. As mentioned earlier, expect an in-depth article soon, but for now, try making a list of 20 people you want to reach out to for a possible part-time gig, and cold email them.
If you don’t manage to find their email ID, you can try connecting with them on LinkedIn. Leave Facebook out of this; Facebook is more of a personal network rather than a professional one.
Contribute To The Community: Try Volunteering
If you’re having a hard time finding a part-time gig that interests you, try finding non-profit organizations that might benefit from your services.
If you are in the blogging or online marketing industries, chances are pretty high that there will be non-profits who could make use of your skills to raise awareness for their cause.
Better yet, try finding organizations with a mutual cause. Believe me, this is the best form of satisfaction you can get in life with your work.
Apart from writing, I personally have a passion for analytics and education. Coursera is a platform that has some combination of both, and I’m currently volunteering as a “Mentor” for one of their courses. Not only do you hone your skills doing such work, you can also make an impact and be helpful to others.
Rinse And Repeat: Master Persistence
Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, is an amazing read to stay positive and persistent in your efforts. He mentions how education and genius alone are not sufficient, and it takes persistence and determination to succeed.
You have to make persistence a staple of your life and keep trying until you make it.
If you need more inspirational stories, you can read one of my articles on Jack Ma here at ShoutMeLoud.
Of all the things I personally value the most, persistence has to be the one at the top for me. Nothing beats persistence, and unless you get extremely lucky, you will be needing a lot of it to reach even close to success.
Finding Your Dream Work
To summarize, despite what people say, it is definitely possible to land your dream freelancing gig.
All it takes in addition to smart work is sheer dedication and persistence.
Feel free to shout out your thoughts and comments below on how you’re going about your freelance gig search and what the outcomes are. I’d love to hear your story!
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