Most of my professional writing career has been as a full-time employee, primarily in journalism, but also in marketing and textbook publishing.
For approximately a year, I freelanced full time. I did OK, until my bread-and-butter client went away.
Freelancing full time is scary. And I was live without a net, without any strong understanding of the business side of things. It made working for myself harder than I ever imagined.
Now, I’m back to freelancing part time and I’m trying at the same time to put up the safety net of better business skills under me. One way I’m doing this is through reading and I recently bought Sara Horowitz’s The Freelancer’s Bible to get a better grasp of what I need to do on the business side.
Today, as I was reading a bit of the book at lunch, I came across this passage on working with clients under the subhead “Be the expert on you”: “Even if your client has worked with freelancers before, everyone’s different. Put a page on your website about how you work. Tell your client how you work.”
According to Horowitz, knowing yourself and how you work helps you stay organized. It helps you work with the client about your preferences. How do you prefer to be contacted? When, for that matter, are you available? How will you and the client work together so you make a good fit?
The passage hooked me because I was recently on an interview for a full time writing gig (hey part-time freelance is great but it doesn’t pay all the bills) and I was a bit stumped when the interviewer asked, “What is your work style?”
I feel I flubbed this question, because I didn’t know quite what it meant. Did the interviewer want to know if I worked fast and accurately? Or how I structured my work day? How did I prioritize? How do I take direction? (I spent an awful long time about how I hated micromanagement.) Did I prefer to take constant direction or did I prefer to get my assignment and prefer to be left alone until it was done? Did I prefer email? Phone calls or in-person communication?
Yes, to all. The interviewer wanted me to talk about each of these things when asked about work style, according to thebalancecareers.com.
The work style question, according to the site, is meant “to decide whether you will fit in well with the company culture and the job. This question also reveals to the employer whether you are self-aware enough to recognize and clearly communicate your work style.”
Answering the work style question also seems a good tool to put into your freelance tool kit. Know yourself and your client gets to know you better.