Is Talent Enough?

How important is talent? Is it enough to let you succeed as a freelancer?

On the one hand, we’d love to believe that sheer talent automatically leads to freelancing success every time. Who doesn’t like a story of someone who rises from obscurity solely because of their outstanding ability? That’s the stuff movies are made of.

As freelancers, however, we are reluctantly forced to admit that such stories of “overnight” success are the exception rather than the rule. Most success depends on lots of hard work.

In this post, we’ll discuss the role that talent plays in success and explain how you can make sure that you reap the success your talent deserves.

Find Your Talent

If you’re a freelancer, you probably already do have some talent. After all, you can’t really freelance unless you have a marketable skill. And you wouldn’t be able to market your skill if you weren’t good at it.

However, if you haven’t actually started freelancing yet or if you’re still trying to figure out what you’re good at, here are a few guidelines for finding your talent:

  • What do you enjoy doing most? Chances are that whatever it is you enjoy doing is related somehow to your talent. For example, I love to play scrabble because I’m naturally good with words.
  • What do others say you’re good at? Listen to your critics (and admirers). They generally know what they are talking about. For example, if someone is constantly praising your artwork, chances are you’re good at art.
  • What are you willing to spend a lot of time doing? To reap the rewards of your talent, you’ll need to put a lot of effort into perfecting it. If this is going to take the fun out of it, chances are you won’t be able to market it.

Now that you’ve found your talent, it’s time to take the next step.

Build Upon Your Talent

Once you’ve figured out where your talent lies, it’s time to build upon that talent. You need to sharpen your natural abilities and hone your skills.

There are several steps you can take to build upon your talent:

  • Practice. You may have heard the popular phrase, practice makes perfect. Well, there’s a good reason why the phrase is popular. It’s usually true. The best way to get better at something is to practice doing it.
  • Learn. Even with your natural ability, you don’t know everything there is to know about your field. Look for a skilled mentor or teacher and learn everything you can from them.
  • Be open. Don’t chose to isolate yourself from new ideas. Read and study everything you can find. Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unusual places.

You’ve bolstered your talent and you’re finally ready to take the last step.

Showcase Your Talent

Now that you’ve honed your talent, you are ready to show it off. This is where many truly talented individuals fail. You won’t really be successful until you’ve shared your talent with the world.

How can you showcase your talent? Well, there are many ways to get exposure for your talent (and fortunately the internet has made sharing your talent easier than ever). Here are just a few of them:

  • Have a website. Whatever your talent happens to be, a website is the perfect medium for showing it off. If you’re an artist, post your artwork. If you’re a writer, highlight your writing. If you’re a photographer, show the world your pictures.
  • Advertise. No one will know that you’re good at what you do unless you tell them. Advertise your services. Social media is great for this.
  • Teach. There are many forms of teaching. You can teach an actual class virtually, or in real life. Or, you can write a book or offer coaching/mentoring services.

The Bottom Line

So, is talent enough to succeed as a freelancer? If you’ve read this far into the post, you’ve probably already figured out the answer, but just in case you haven’t…

In my opinion, no, talent is usually not enough by itself, but it’s a mighty good start. Success is usually due to a combination of a lot of hard work AND some talent.

Your Turn

How important do you think talent is to your freelancing success? How do you showcase your talent?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Sergey Ivanov