From blogs to eBooks to social media, there is a lot of freelancing advice out there. Some of that advice touches upon a common desire or hits a nerve among freelancers and becomes a popular trend. At one time or another, nearly every freelancer has been tempted to follow the herd and take the advice of the latest hip guru.
There can be some benefits to following trends, but carelessly flitting from trend to trend can actually harm your freelancing business. In this post, we’ll explore some of the benefits of following freelancing trends, and we’ll discuss some of the disadvantages of chasing after the latest fads.
Benefits of Following the Trends
Keeping up with freelancing trends can provide some benefits to your business. Trend followers:
- Learn new skill sets
- Discover different ways of thinking
- Appear current to clients and contemporaries
- Appeal to others who are following the same trends
As you can see from the list above, following a trend can often benefit your business.
Problems with Following the Trends
A major problem with following freelancing trends is that many of them don’t work. The advisors don’t really know what they are talking about, or the advice really doesn’t apply to you. Trend chasers find themselves:
- Wasting money
- Wasting time
- Looking foolish
These problems might discourage many freelancers from paying attention to trends at all. There are ways, however, for a careful freelancer to decide whether a particular trend is worth watching.
Fads vs Standards: a Key Difference
Remember that a trend can go one of two ways. It can prove itself to be a fad, in which case it will die out. (Remember Leg Warmers and Cabbage Patch® dolls?)
Or, a trend can become the new standard. These new standards are the trends that you want to identify yourself with. No freelancer wants to fall behind in his or her field.
The contrast between fads and standards is quite evident in the world of web design. We’ve all seen websites that, unfortunately, look like they are still stuck in the 90s. They are truly not an asset to their owners, who would benefit if they would embrace some of the newer web standards.
The difference between fads and standard also applies to other freelancing professionals, such as writers. In this day and age, can you imagine a freelance writer who didn’t know how to use a word processor? Word processing skills are pretty much a standard requirement for writers, but it wasn’t always that way.
Freelancers should examine trends carefully before jumping on board.
8 Questions to Ask Before You Follow a Trend
The following questions can help you evaluate whether you should follow a trend:
- Is this guru/advisor qualified?
- Is his or her experience typical?
- Is the advice practical?
- How much will I have to spend?
- How much time will it take?
- What benefits can I expect to receive?
- Have others successfully followed the advice?
- What else can go wrong when following the advice?
It’s important to note that sometimes it does pay to follow a trend even if you believe it is only a fad. You may be able to jump on board with a trend and make money from it while it lasts. This is particularly true if following the trend is relatively inexpensive and easy to do and it will not make look foolish or otherwise harm your business.
What About You?
Do you follow trends? How do you determine what’s a fad and what isn’t? What additional benefits and problems can you think of related to following trends.
Leave your answers in the comments.
Image by rinaldi