It’s the ultimate goal and dream of every grade school child. To be able to grow up and do what you love for a living, at the time it may be flying in space, driving large red trucks, or protecting and serving. As we grow older, some of us reconsider which profession would make us happy but the dream of doing it for a living stays alive.
For most freelancers this dream is the root of the choice we have made to enter the freelance market. Whether you operate as “your own boss” on a full time basis or just on the side, you probably love what you do. What happens, though, when love doesn’t pay all of the bills? When we need that extra boost up the learning curve?
When love for the job isn’t getting you all the way it’s time to turn to your personal strengths for assistance. Focusing more effort into an area you are strong at, but may not be in love with can make the difference between a mediocre freelancing career and a truly fulfilling one.
What Am I Good at?
We don’t come with instruction guides that list out what our talents are going to be in life and unfortunately we don’t have the option to place our own attributes into categories at birth. So how do we really know what we are good at? We all have an idea of what types of things we are good at but sometimes it’s the unexpected strong points that help us the most.
The real secret here is to use other people, be it experience with friends and families, client feedback or suggestions from your peers. You will be surprised to find out that your own idea of the strengths that you possess may not line up with how other people feel.
For example, if I were to list my own strengths just off the cuff my list would look something like this:
- Devilishly Handsome
- Fantastic At Everything
The sad reality here is that (with exception of being devilishly handsome ;) ) I happen to be wrong about all the stuff I am great at. When considering our own strengths we tend to lean towards the things we want to be great at. It may be more exciting to think about what we could be good at, but that isn’t nearly as much help!
In reality, my secret strong point was writing. Yeah… duh right? “Hey everyone come look at how the blog writer is telling us his strength is writing, what a genius!” No, you guys don’t understand. For 90% of my life I have hated writing, like flat out despised everything about it. I made my English teachers suffer because the subject they taught made me suffer and it was regularly my worst grade.
Digging into Your Strength
I convinced myself to start writing because my parents and teachers constantly pounded me with how much more I could achieve with my writing and that it came naturally me to me, etc. In addition every post ever written about how to get ahead as a web designer includes a few lines about blogging to get your name out.
Writing isn’t the only way to get your name out there, especially to your current or potential clients. The great thing about having a strong talent or personality trait is you inherently try to incorporate it into other areas of your life. Do you naturally have a magnetic personality? Meet with clients in person and they will be more likely to start or continue working with you. Have a knack for teaching? Use eloquent descriptions of your services to build a connection with people. Do you rock face at Halo? Cater your skills to the huge online gaming community. The possibilities here are endless.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The twisted thing about doing what you’re good at is that you aren’t really good at it until you do it over and over. So, while you may have strengths in mind that you want to incorporate into your freelance life don’t forget that your life won’t be changing over night. Often times a considerable amount of trial and error will go into finding out just how your talents will assist your career.
Over time, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that your success as a freelancer can be attributed simply to you being yourself. Most clients love to deal with real people and real people are different from each other, not just in the services they offer, but in how they interact and get along.
How about you? How have you used personal traits to stand out from others in your field? Do you have a strength that you want to incorporate but can’t figure out how?
Image by BozDoz