If you’ve been a freelancer for any length of time, you probably know the name Ed Gandia. Not only is he one of the regular contributors here on Freelance Folder, but he’s also one of the co–authors of the helpful book, The Wealthy Freelancer.
Ed has another project up his sleeve, though. He’s part of the team behind International Freelancer’s Day, which is a free event for solo professionals (in other words, freelancers).
Recently, I caught up with Ed and had a chance to ask him a few questions about International Freelancing Day and about the future of freelancing in general.
What Is International Freelancing Day, Anyway?
I wanted to learn a little bit more about International Freelancer’s Day, so I asked Ed a few questions:
1. Ed, I understand that you are the driving force behind International Freelancer’s Day. In one or two sentences, can you explain what that is?
Ed: International Freelancers Day is a global initiative to celebrate independent workers everywhere and the tremendous impact they have on the economy. The celebration will connect freelancers, consultants, solopreneurs, independent bloggers and all other types of solo professionals through a free, two-day online video conference featuring 12 hours of presentations and 25 top-notch speakers.
2. What advantage will a freelancer get from participating in this event and why should freelancers be interested?
Ed: It’s very clear that, especially in this economy, freelancers and solo professionals are looking for better and smarter ways to grow and run their solo businesses, to boost their income and to create better work-life balance. International Freelancers Day will provide aspiring, new and seasoned solo professionals with the ideas, strategies and inspiration they need to take their “business of one” to the next level of success.
Plus, the event is completely free. Really! There’s no catch. You just have to register, which takes all of four seconds to do. And, you can attend only the sessions you’re interested in. Just take a look at the event schedule and plan your day accordingly.
3. How did you come up with the idea of International Freelancer’s Day?
Ed: One of my co-authors, Pete Savage, came up with the idea. He realized that every group under the sun has a “day” of their own. Teachers, administrative assistants, nurses, meatpackers, meteorologists—even waffles have “National Waffle Day.” So do cupcakes, margaritas and watermelons. (I’m not kidding!)
But freelancers and contingent workers, who now comprise a third of the workforce in the U.S. (and even a greater percentage in other countries), don’t have a day of their own to celebrate.
We wanted to change that. We wanted to bring attention to what’s clearly the biggest shift in the way work is being done. And for those of us who make a living by freelancing, we wanted to create an event where we could learn, network and share ideas.
Freelancing Tips from Ed Gandia
Ed was also generous enough to share the story of how he got started as a freelancer and provide a few freelancing tips:
4. I understand that you’ve been a freelance copywriter since 2003. Why did you decide to go freelance instead of choosing to do copywriting with an agency?
Ed: In late 2002, I set a goal to launch my own business (or buy an existing business) within five years. I was getting tired of the corporate grind. I wanted to chart my own course and build and grow something. Well, shortly after that, I realized that copywriting could actually be turned into a business. It was something I was already doing as part of my job as a software salesman.
So, I abandoned the idea of going the traditional entrepreneurial route in favor of launching a freelance practice. Because my objective was always to go out on my own, I never considered the agency route. I never saw this as a careers shift. I saw it as a way to create a business that didn’t involve employees, inventory and suppliers.
5. You’re also a coauthor of the popular freelancing guide, The Wealthy Freelancer (a book that I happen to be a fan of), if you could only offer a single piece of advice to a new freelancer, what would that advice be?
Ed: Continually market, market, market! Consistent and effective promotional efforts will help ensure that your project pipeline is full and that you never have to scrounge for work. Which means you can command the fees you deserve, pick the clients and projects you want, and have more fun! When you net it all out, smarter and more consistent marketing can solve most of the problems we face.
6. The freelancing environment is constantly evolving. If you could take a peek at the freelancer of the future (say in five year’s time), what skills do you think that freelancer would need?
Ed: You’ll need to be a good businessperson. Professional or technical skills alone are not going to be enough. You’ll have to be good at marketing, sales, customer service, “operations” (scheduling and running your day-to-day business), research and development (keeping up your knowledge base), cash flow management, and human resources (work-life balance). As we continue to move into a “gig” economy—and as more and more workers become freelancers, which will create more competition—your ability to run your practice as a business will be critical to your long-term success.
What About You?
Are you excited about the prospect of a day for freelancers? Will you be participating? What do you think about the future of freelancing?
Leave your answers in the comments.