Why Freelancers Need To Be Gutsier Than Regular Workers [Partner Content]

Why Freelancers Need To Be Gutsier Than Regular Workers [Partner Content]

In order to make an impression that drowns out the competition, confidence is key.

Kyana Gordon
  • 3 february 2013

The modern work landscape is one that is constantly changing. Today’s office is no longer one filled with cubicles and fluorescent lights, and more and more people are striking out on their own and joining the freelancing world in order to have more control over their careers. PSFK shares stories from various freelancers, who comment on what they know now that they wish they’d known when they started out.

What’s most attractive to me about freelancing is that within the term is the word “free.” The type of freedom associated with waking up in the morning and being completely in charge of your day –  no one telling you what to do or how to do it, and no one micro-managing your workload. Everything flows from you.

One summer afternoon in July 2008, I decided that becoming a freelancer was most aligned with how I wanted to live. Previous to the leap, my past working life included everything from a gig at an art museum to one at the U.S. Consolate in South Africa, a stint at a music PR firm for five years, architecture firm, strategy at a record label, DJ’ing, and slinging pizza.


Starting out, my approach was a bit more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, and I hadn’t the slightest clue about how to jumpstart my career. Which is why I was intrigued when recently I stumbled across The Freelancer’s Bible — a need-to-know guide that helps independent workers do everything from plan their career goals to pay their taxes. Back then, a guide like the The Freelancer’s Bible would have been invaluable. The first chapter outlines “Seven Start-up Steps” that serve as a platform to help anyone get going. These beneficial steps are simple:

Know why you’re freelancing • Figure out your key strengths • Figure out your customer’s needs • Know what you’ll charge • Do your budget • Gather your brain trust • Make a game plan for going public.

Sounds like sage advice from a friend who’s been there. However, with no Freelancer’s Bible in sight, guidance came from my boyfriend at the time who had been a freelance designer for over fifteen years. He handed me a sheet of graph paper and told me to look at my attributes, skills, passions and map out what my best work options were, and who I could contact to get where I wanted to be. I wrote the words: writing, people, anthropology, cultural strategy, research, music and dance. These were at the core of everything I did, and I was then able to connect the dots to make it clear who the people were who could help get me started.

I contacted every small, medium and large agency in New York City, from traditional to creative to innovation shop, and set up a meeting, spouting my talk about how there was a desperate need for field work, cultural authenticity, and how I was well equipped to carry this kind of work out.

At the same time, writing was where my real passion lay. I wrote little pieces here and there but I really wanted it to become a part of my daily life. So in August 2009, I reached out to Piers Fawkes and set up a meeting, the following Monday I was writing and researching for PSFK. It was a huge step for me.

One thing no one tells you when you begin freelancing is how to balance it all — from a to-do list, client expectations, to knowing what you’re worth. When you are representing yourself, confidence is key.


Fast forward five years and I am working as a cultural strategist and writer. I’ve been able to fly to South Africa on very short notice for a job, something I would never have been able to do as a full-time employee. This past December, I moved from Brooklyn to Bequia, a tiny island in the Caribbean for four months to focus solely on writing and creative projects of my own. I could have never have imagined that this is where I would end up five years ago, but I’m so grateful I took the leap.

Header image by Karen Evans.

PSFK has partnered with the Freelancer’s Union to bring you a content series written by freelancers for freelancers, about how to succeed in the business – whether you’re just starting out, or are a seasoned member of the community. Click here to buy the book.


DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Design & Architecture
Culture Yesterday

Messaging Add-On Helps You Correct Your Friends’ Bad Grammar

An iMessage sticker pack will help you copyedit text messages

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes-Benz Introduces A New Electric Mobility Brand

The separate entity aims to simplify the identification of Mercedes EV products to customers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Mobile Yesterday

Tinder’s New Feature Makes Swiping A Group Effort

The dating app wants to democratize its gestural interaction by buying in to the social polling trend pervasive among millennials

Syndicated Yesterday

Autonomous Garbage Drone Prevents Trash From Reaching Deep Ocean

The solar-powered WasteShark collects refuse closer to the source: the harbor

Automotive Yesterday

Aston Martin Reveals Its Own Luxury Powerboat

The sleek AM37 echoes styling elements from the British brand's sports cars

Advertising Yesterday

An Escort Website Fights Violence Against Sex Workers

The advocacy campaign from McCann aims uncover the human toll of the exploitative industry


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 28, 2016

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

PSFK Labs september 29, 2016

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Culture Yesterday

LIFE Magazine Relaunches In Pure VR

The general interest periodical, which ceased publication in 2000, has turned into a portal for virtual reality content

Mobile Yesterday

Reorder This Detox Drink With A Simple Text Message

Dirty Lemon is streamlining its communication by letting customers place orders, ask product questions and request help exclusively through chat

Op-Ed Yesterday

The Future Of The American Workforce Requires Unbundling College Education

President of JetBlue Technology Ventures: developing corporate education programs for non-traditional students

Retail Yesterday

Gilt’s Pop-Up House Is The Kind Of Store You’ll Want To Live In

The New York City townhouse plays host to the latest in retail inspiration, curation, and lifestyle activation (and some libations, too)


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Mobile Yesterday

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Africa Yesterday

Virtual Reality Game Gives Lessons About Emergency Birth Care

LIFE is a serious tool that takes advantage of new technology to help save lives

Luxury Yesterday

Shoe Repair Has Moved Onto Your Phone

Cobbler Concierge is an on-demand service to get your footwear fixed online

No search results found.