Finding Work {When Offers Aren't Falling In Your Lap...} // PART TWO

In PART ONE of "Finding Work {When Offers Aren't Falling In Your Lap...}", we talked about the first three tips to building your freelance creative career.

So we've talked about "faking it till you make it" (so important!), signing up for apps + services that let you know of paid projects, and being open to jobs in the beginning that may not be "dream" jobs. But now we're gonna get to the good stuff!! My personal favorite tips for finding work are all about being proactive. Ready for this? 

PITCH YOURSELF (AND PITCH OFTEN)

I think most of us have others we look up to professionally, or people whose careers we aspire to emulate in some way. When you're starting out (or in a lull with work), it's easy to imagine that other people have endless offers left and right, for amazing work. But I've found that getting to a place where offers come to you, means working to get to a place where you have shown what you can do. Which means you need work!! Which leads me to pitching. Pitching yourself to brands and clients you want to work with is hard- but it's also empowering. In the first year of my committed freelance-hood (is that a word? ha.), I challenged myself to pitch to 3-5 new brands every week. I would dedicate 15 min a day to find new brands I wanted to pitch to (I kept a list in google docs of brands I wanted to work with and would check them off as I reached out), and then 2 hours per week to actually sit down and write emails pitching myself.

You might be asking one of two things: 1) how did I find the emails of the people to pitch to? and 2) How do you pitch yourself in a compelling way? 

So let me answer that.

1) Finding the correct email address of the person you want to speak with (i.e. social media manager or coordinator, marketing manager, etc) takes a little work. Rarely is it just posted- I would start by taking a look at the website (on the off chance it WAS listed). Sometimes another, more generic email address is listed, and I have had success reaching out to that email address to ASK for the correct address of the ____ (fill in the blank: social media manager, person in charge of influencer outreach). It's important that you don't pitch yourself at this step- keep it short and simple and clear- you just want to connect with the right person. Another good option of finding the email address of the person you need to speak with, is to direct message the brand on social media, and ask for the contact. Again, DO NOT pitch in the message itself and definitely don't pitch in the comments of a photo! You don't want to seem desperate and you DO want to seem focused and professional.

2) Which leads me to the next question... How do you pitch yourself in a compelling way? Once you've found the correct contact to email, you'll want to send a CLEAR + CONCISE message. It should include a brief introduction and description of what you do, a brief explanation of why you think you'd be a good fit to work together/what you like about them, a brief description of SPECIFIC ideas you have to work together, and end it with the best way to reach you. All in, it should me no more than 5-8 sentences and two short paragraphs. 

You might be thinking "but I have so many ideas" or "I want them to know my whole backstory and all about the amazing work I've done." The thing is, most brands (big and small) get dozens (if not hundreds) of emails a day. The last thing they want to do is read a novel, especially before they've decided whether or not they're interested. Keeping yourself brief and friendly and professional is the best way to go. Here's an example:


"Dear Josie-

My name is Natasha and I am _____ (blogger, photographer, internet personality, makeup artist... whatever you do!) and the owner/author/etc of YOUR BLOG/WEBSITE HERE. I love to create fun + easy make-up tutorials for my followers, and aim to only use vegan, cruelty-free products. I'm reaching out because I have been a big fan of XYZ Cosmetics for years. I love your fun packaging and commitment to ethical beauty. (You can see some of my tutorials using your products here, here and here.)

I would love to work with you to create a series of fun + easy spring looks for the upcoming months, using your products. A couple ideas I have are...(be specific but brief. Enough to let them know you have real ideas, but don't write a novel.)

I'd like to chat with you further to share more detail and see how we can best partner together. My email is _______ and I'd be happy to set up a call next week any day before noon.

Please let me know if you have any questions and thanks for your time."


TA-DA! You shared enough to give them a sense of who you are and what you do and now it's up to them to decide if they'd like to hear more. (Side note: don't expect to hear back from everyone. You won't, no matter how amazing your emails are. BUT, you will hear back from some and that will make it all worth it.)

This is also another great reason to make sure you website, blog, portfolio, and social media accounts are up to date and representative of you. Most people will look at those before reaching out and you want them to help seal the deal!

CREATE THE WORK YOU WANT TO DO

Someday your portfolio will be filled with lots of amazing, gorgeous, PAID work you can proudly show others. But if now is not that time, it's time to fill it with amazing, gorgeous work! Want to be a paid illustrator? Create illustrations you are proud to show others and put them in your portfolio. Want to be a paid food blogger? Create amazing recipes, filled with with gorgeous pictures and share them! Want to be a stylist? Take amazing photos of what you style and share them! The point is... people don't know what you do until you do it. Don't be scared you're not good enough because honestly... no one is when they start! The only way you get better is to do lots and lots of work, on a regular basis. Eventually, you will be good enough that people will want to pay you to do what you do. Creating the work you want to do allows you to hone your skills, display your creativity, and build your credibility.

ALWAYS BE DOING ALL OF THESE THINGS

This one sounds silly, but I mean it... the habit of doing all of these things, week in and week out (projecting the business image you want others to see, signing up for apps + services to let you know of work, being open to jobs, pitching yourself often, and constantly creating new work) creates a rhythm that helps you build your business. If you start to get busy with paid work + new offers (hooray!), don't stop doing these things. The nature of freelance is that things ebb and flow and while it can feel like extra work when times are good, having a system to work when times are lean is comforting and keeps you busy.


So... was this helpful? I'd love your feedback! Navigating a freelance creative career is not for the faint of heart and I know I love to hear about others and what works for them. I'd like to cover more topics like this on the blog, so if you have specific questions you'd like answered, please let me know!

ONE MORE THING! If you'd like the worksheet I passed out in my group talk at Alt Summit, here you go! It's a handy little cheatsheet you can use to map out your own plan. ;)

*FINDING WORK {WHEN OFFERS AREN'T FALLING IN YOUR LAP...} WORKSHEET*

xx Natasha