What Freelancers Can Teach Traditional Workers

Roughly a third of all American workers are contractors, temporary workers, self-employed, or some other kind of independent, or “contingent,” worker. And that rate seems to be going up with every year.

Even though it’s a smart bet to think that you might be on your own at some point in your career, lots of us act as if we’ll always be doing more or less what we’re doing now. But if and when you suddenly find yourself out of work — or your job description changes rapidly — it can be a major challenge to try to figure out at that point how to get your career moving again.

The consultant and writer Alexandra Levit, an old hand at working for herself and dealing with the challenges of being a contingent worker, has some advice to help traditional workers get comfortable with doing what it takes to be their own boss. It’s mainly about building skills:

  • Practice the all-hands-on-deck approach and hone transferable skills like marketing and finance by taking on independent projects for a different department, or for a volunteer group.
  • Brand yourself as a contributor that any organization would love to hire. Create strong profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, and build an eye-catching Web site around your personal domain name. Learn about client recruitment and retention from other sales people and business owners, and incorporate their techniques.

Even if you don’t ever end up working on your own, all those methods are still likely to come in very handy — and they’ll definitely help keep you from being complacent about showing up in the office each day.

How to Double Your Income in a Year [Susannah Breslin]