How to be a Unicorn (and Love It)
On her secret to success, media mogul Oprah Winfrey once said, "Do what you have to do, until you can do what you really want to do." How easy is it to achieve in reality?
Regardless of any industry, writing your own success story is an uphill task that’s almost guaranteed to be as hard as learning how to be a unicorn (we think).
The reality of working for oneself is that not everyone hangs on long enough to reach that sweet spot of getting to pick jobs, having to endure countless rejections and long hours, not to mention unreasonable requests from clients who may need more educating on how to work with freelancers within a set of guidelines to ensure a happy and sustainable working relationship.
What then makes a career in the freelance industry worthwhile?
It’s the million-dollar question for those who are seeking more than a 9-6 desk bound job and instead want to live their dreams. The hours are long, the work literally backbreaking when you’re dragging vintage luggages in the rain for a photoshoot, and clients are not always the most pleasant. In short, the picture is not always pretty. Nevertheless, little can stop a determined soul from trying. We spoke to those who have earned their stripes and are happy to share the lessons from their very different (but ultimately rewarding) journeys.
1) Get known for being a joy to work with
In the small and highly talented community of fashion and beauty professionals, your reputation is usually what gets you your next assignment. Being known for consistently delivering great work, and having a strong work ethic and sense of humour is a dream combination that most if not all editors love (and would keep you on their speed dial for). Speak to any fashion and beauty professional who take their job seriously, and they will tell you the same.
2) Approach every client with a great attitude
As a service-oriented professional, being successful boils down to how well you communicate with your clients and peers. Not only does it set the tone for your professional ethic, it’s also your unofficial name card. Whether you are open to your client’s comments and preferences, have a ability to accept feedback, or quick to adjust your working style to adapt to any situation or personalities, all these factors contribute to an overall sense of comfort and help to build trustworthiness in your professional relationships.
3) Keep building your portfolio and network
This is simple: don’t stop making new contacts or getting the word out about your business. The more people you know in and outside of your industry, the chances of people knowing about what you have to offer gets spread around quicker. Another advantage of keeping up with the industry grape vine is opportunity – being in the right place at the right time certainly helps if you’re confident in your skills and prepared for the job. You’ll get first dibs on upcoming assignments and the chance to market your services to potential clients who are hiring.
4) Be strategic about managing your career
As you gain more experience and contacts, your bag of jobs will eventually grow bigger and bigger. This presents a happy set of problems: how do you keep your existing clients happy, while continuing to grow your own brand? Not to mention attend your own sister’s wedding or go for a much-needed vacation when there seems like an endless cycle of jobs waiting. As impossible as it seems to a freelancer, work-life balance and getting burned out are not myths but something to be considered throughout your career for the sake of your wellbeing.
5) Create an online presence and leverage on technology
On the long road to successfully running your own business, it can feel lonely and frustrating, with the “always-on-fire” urgency to keep up a continuous stream of work and having to actively seek out new contacts to build your network, when all you feel is having is a long nap.
Creating and marketing a professional online presence helps prevent you from getting burned out by providing the platform and resources you need to manage your services, while letting you reach out to a wider pool of audience around the world. When used the right way, technology truly levels the playing field and will create more buzz for your personal brand and services.