One of the problems with freelancing is that it can be hard to draw a thread through the various different projects and work you do.
This means it can be really hard to clearly define what you actually do and whether that makes a difference to anything. It’s a bit like trying to boil the ocean – it’s impossible to make any kind of impact or difference if you’re spreading yourself too thinly.
I’ve recently started doing some accountability coaching with our website Freelance Success. This basically involves me listening to what other freelancers want to achieve during a week, and then holding them to account so that they actually complete those tasks or goals.
It’s a ridiculously simple idea, and it works surprisingly well!
If you’re the kind of person who never gets around to doing the most important things on your to-do list, this kind of coaching can actually be game-changing.
One thing that keeps coming up from the sessions, however, is the idea that freelancers need to have more of a specialism and take their work and business a little more seriously.
Just like with any business or organisation, if you try to be everything to all people, it becomes really hard for the clients who should be working with you to ever actually find you.
To be honest, I’ve not really been following my own advice here. Some weeks I’m working on business coaching products, others I’m creating social media graphics for a book. I spin a lot of plates and provide a lot of different services to clients in all kinds of different roles and sectors.
My Freelancing Pivot
I’ve been gradually shifting my freelancing focus over the course of the last few months to be much more closely aligned with the kind of work that I actually want to do with my career.
I’ve become really interested in the Effective Altruism movement, and the idea that we should try to do some good with our careers and the hours we spend working.
I have a set of marketing, design and strategy skills that mean I can help businesses spread their word far and wide. So I can use these skills to work with charities, non-profits and organisations that are trying to do good in the world.
I can help these organisations with digital strategy, websites and fundraising, and I can help them to raise more impact and have a bigger impact on their chosen causes.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of charities actually need a lot of help with leveraging these digital marketing tools. They are leaving a lot of money on the table, and failing to have the impact they could have. Equally, many are simply a little tech-phobic – or don’t have the time to dedicate to learning new skills and tools.
Often simply not being able to tell your story in an efficient and relevant way can be a huge barrier as a charity. I can really help with this kind of thing, so it’s time to start focussing on this area.
This shift in my focus involves saying ‘no’ to more work offers that aren’t aligned with this goal. But it is already giving me greater clarity and expertise to understand who I can help most with my skills and specialism.
I’ve been working with a number of charities and foundations already, and now I am continuing this transition with a new website, branding and messaging.
I’ll be posting a lot more content online and sending a weekly email to help the organisations I work with become more effective and raise more money. I don’t particularly enjoy wading into social media, but I’m really excited about this shift and am really enjoying learning more about the unique challenges and opportunities of the Third Sector.
Pledging to do more good
It feels a bit wrong to have this focus without also doing my own bit. That’s why I’ve also taken Giving What We Can’s pledge to donate 10% of my freelance income to the most impactful charities in the world (as determined by GiveWell).
In this way, each project I work on can do a little bit of good on some of the most important causes of our times.
I highly recommend signing up if you can – it’s a great way to do consistent good, using both your head and your heart.
So that’s a little update from me, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or thoughts!