Jack of all trade-offs
November 21, 2005 1:14 PM   Subscribe

What kind of freelance work is right for me?

I am currently in college, but I'm working less now due to my parttime job being downsized, and I could use a little extra cash. I want to try freelance jobs, but which ones? My experience and interests are a mish-mash of the creative trades:

Text: I'm alright with words, especially if they're of the Dutch or English variety. I've been writing songs (in English) for over ten years, I've written short stories (one has been published in a Dutch online literary magazine), and blogging for two-and-a-half years. I can also translate between English and Dutch. I've worked as an editor for one of those Yellow Pages-ish web portals that went bust when the dotcom bubble burst.

Music: I'm working on music projects of my own, but I've also written the odd song on request for a theatre group. I have my own home studio.

Other: I've organised and presented singer/songwriter open mic nights. I shoot and edit video, and I've worked as a video operator at a film festival. I've done a sketch act for local radio. I've worked as a lighting engineer at a local venue. I enjoy photography in my spare time. I've been building web sites for ten years or so, but I don't consider this my greatest talent. I have a decent understanding of the techniques, standards and software though.

As you can see, my interests are all over the place. What angle would be best for landing freelance jobs? Factors such as market demand, chance of success, expected pay and expected satisfaction can all be taken into consideration. Feel free to ask for clarification, if need be. Thanks in advance!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The hard part about freelancing is landing the jobs. Your best jobs come through recommendations, which in turn comes from having contacts in the field that you're working, and people who've seen your work. Without that personal introduction, you're just a stranger who might have zero experience for all they know.

In a way, the big question is not "What skills/talent do I have?", but rather "What field or industry do I already have contacts and experience in, and is going to be most fruitful and easiest for landing jobs?".

This applies particularly since this is going to be something part-time on the side. You're not going to be able to work full-time on promoting yourself from scratch, so if you're looking for spare cash soon, you'll need to find something where you already have those contacts.
posted by chrismear at 1:29 PM on November 21, 2005

Best answer: chrismear is exactly right. Previous contacts and word of mouth are enormously fruitful and shouldn't be overlooked. Additionally, it would be smart to get something out there in the public to help drive new interest.

As for what to target, I say go with all of them. Diverse revenue streams can be great. One can pick up the slack when another isn't getting as much interest and the different tasks will keep you from being bored. You'll likely find that one is easier than the others for you to land (in my case, the one I least enjoy), so by keeping the door open to others, you might get the occasional happy surprise when someone wants to pay you for the one you enjoy rather than the one that is more in-demand by the market.

You could create a general portal of a website that basically says: "Hi. I do stuff. Which stuff interests you?" that branches off into the different categories of, well, stuff. Place examples and maybe some tips/how-tos on the subjects' sections and target each interest individually. One example is Noah Grey's relatively recent redesign of his "main" page that serves as a portal to all the stuff he does: photography, music, writing, goods for sale, etc.
posted by Hankins at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2005

Is there possibly work for you in the genealogy arena? My mother once unearthed a goodly amount of Norwegian documents that we could no more read than a turkey can fly (As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly) so if we could have found someone to do some translation, however rough, we'd have paid $20-60 for it. Perhaps there's a similar (albeit small) market for Dutch.
posted by phearlez at 3:19 PM on November 21, 2005

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