Because they don’t have one employer to lean on for support, self-employed people need resources more than most workers togrow or even just maintain their business. Here are five things that can boosta self-employed person’s career prospects.
An online portfolio where they can showcase their skills and accomplishments is invaluable. Spend a little money on a domain name and web hosting and commit some time to developing the portfolio. That way you’ll have a handy link you can pass on to potential clients that show how professional and put-together you are, especially compared to all the other self-employed people who don’t have portfolios.
Online portfolios are all but mandatory in creative professions, but almost anyonecan benefit in a big way from having a site that specifically exists to demonstrate how great you are. Services like SquareSpace and Weebly are great tools to build impressive online portfolios without needing a lot of know-how.
2. Job sites
Obviously, the places offering work are some of the most important resources for the self-employed. It isn’t always easy hunting down the right job boards for your industry, though. More general freelance sites like Freelancer.com, Upwork and oDesk are default options, but if you only to stick to those you’ll likely end up bidding for gigs against people who are willing to work for next to nothing. So even if you get an assignment, you probably won’t be compensated fairly for it.
Time would be better spent researching the best job boards for your industry by reading blogs written by other professionals and joining online communities. More on that below.
3. Blogs written by already-successful people in your industry
One of the things that helped me the most as a writer starting out was the breadth of blogs run by people who had already carved out successful careers as freelancers. Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing and Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger were especially helpful as I traveled down my path.
For obvious reasons, it’s easier to find blogs by professionals who already like to write, but there’s no shortage of people in any profession who want to help guide people on a better path.Seek out people in your industry who have big web presences. You’re idols are potentially some of your most important resources, telling you where to apply for jobs and how to do your work better.
One of the most important things you have to do as a freelancer is connect with other people in your industry. Even if you’re self-employed because you don’t want to have to work with others, your prospects will quickly thin out if you don’t spend at least a little time networking. LinkedIn groups are often perfect communities for networking, getting you in touch with other professionals who can help you and who you can help in return.
Even though you’re self-employed, you can’t do everything by yourself. LinkedIn groups and other communities are strong ways to build relationships with professionals, even if you’re not sharing an office with them.
Self-employed people need to stay up to speed with the current trends and the most in-demand skills more than any employee, since they’re constantly vying for new work. They also need to develop newskills in order to make themselves more marketable if they’re not getting enough work already for whatever reason. That’s why they can benefit more than most from services that offer tutorials to broaden their knowledge and skills.
It’s tempting to go with the cheapest (read: free) options like tutorials on YouTube, but spending a little money will help you learn what you need to know better and more quickly.
I highly recommend Lynda, a site that has hundreds of video tutorials teachingyou all kinds of marketable skills. With the help of a service like that and the other resources on this list,you can make yourself-employed dream a reality.
Featured photo credit: Working from Home./Daniel Rashid via flickr.com