Why there’s no such thing as luck in freelancing

I’ve never been particularly superstitious. I don’t really believe in “luck”.

 

When I started freelancing about nine months ago, my little marketing consultancy took off pretty much straight away - and within about 4 weeks I had a diary almost full of paid work stretching out about 3 months.

 

This was due to two pieces of, what you might want to call, “serendipity”:

 

1. My ex boss at my last permanent job had moved to a new place, whose Head of Comms had just gone off long term sick, leaving them in the lurch for a pretty large piece of work that needed turning round urgently. They dropped me a line, and it led to my first relatively sizeable project

 

2. Whilst sat stuck on a train going nowhere somewhere in the Midlands, I happened to do a random check of the LinkedIn app, where I saw a fellow comms pro that I didn’t remember ever connecting with put out a call for any comms freelancers to get in touch. When I got home and had a reliable 4G connection, I did. It led to 3 months worth of work, which has led to being introduced to more clients, which has led to more work.

 

freelancer-starting-out

 

When I look back at the flying start I had, I often say to people that “I was really lucky” when I first started.

 

I don’t actually believe this of course. It’s true, you can’t control what clients will want, when, or how they choose to tell people about it. Sometimes you are, literally, in the right place at the right time.

 

But you still have to put the work in to make the most of these opportunities.

 

This often means being very proactive in telling people about your new endeavour as loudly and regularly as possible. It means being on the constant look out for opportunities. It means having your brain attuned to being able to meet a potential client’s needs at the drop of a hat.

 

And for me at least, it also meant benefiting from years playing “the long game”: and by that I mean always being a good reliable colleague, constantly learning new skills, delivering high quality work; reaching out to other professionals and contacts; never leaving a job on bad terms; contributing valuable things to your network outside of your immediate colleagues; but most importantly being good at what you do, and being nice with it.

 

If you do all these things, you put yourself in a much better position to find and make the most of those opportunities when they do appear.

 

So, it’s nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with hard work; and doing all you can to make sure that, more often than not, you are in that right place, at that right time.

 

The main point is this:

 

You can create the business you want, the work-life balance you want, and the client list you want; and it’s entirely in your hands.

 

It won’t happen overnight, and it sure as hell won’t happen due to “luck”. But if you want it, and are prepared to work for it, it can happen.

 

I think every freelancer you speak to will echo this. It’s what makes me really proud to be part of this community of brave, creative, independent practitioners.

 

We’re a group of people that have given up waiting for “luck” to take our careers in a particular direction; waiting to be given work or projects to do; or waiting for that game-changing promotion.

 

We’ve decided there’s a better way, and have decided (at personal, financial risk) to pursue it.

When I see the fantastic work that freelance comms, research, design, and content professionals are doing across the UK, it makes me really proud.

 

We are individuals utterly unconstrained by organisational convention and negative cultures; working at the cutting edge of our fields, because we believe in what we do.

 

Great music, great art, and game changing ideas all happen when individuals decide to pursue them, and invest their time and personal risk in them.

 

And that’s what we all do as freelancers.

 

Our belief in doing things better, both for ourselves and the end-users we ultimately serve, is driving independent practitioners to do incredible things. The fact that we do it with that personal risk involved speaks to our passion and is what makes us an amazing group of people.

 

Freelancers are good people. We’re selfless, creative, empathetic and fun to be around.

 

We make good things happen. We’re driven. We’re hard-working, and passionate about making things better.

 

We’re the present, and the future of work.

 

With a little help from our friends; such as IPSE and other great freelancer communities (special shout outs to Being Freelance, Freelance Folk, Freelance Heroes) we’re making it happen together, and on our own terms.

 

It’s what makes me proud to be one of the UK’s 2 million freelancers.

Meet the author

Ben Capper

Ben Capper is a freelance communications and marketing consultant, and owner of Grey Fox Communications and Marketing Ltd.

 

Based in Liverpool, Ben works mostly with not-for-profit organisations across the UK to help them understand, reach, and move their audiences more effectively.

 

See more at greyfoxcomms.co.uk or follow Ben on Twitter, or connect with Ben on LinkedIn.