The Importance of Diversifying Your Freelance Career

For years, freelancing was synonymous with writing. When you heard the word “freelancer,” chances are that you likely thought of someone who gets paid to write. Nowadays, that is still very true assessment, but it is also a much broader field. Freelancers, also called contractors, comes in all shapes and sizes and work in types of different careers and fields. Thanks to the rising popularity of this type of work, frequently referred to as the ‘gig economy’ or ‘remote work’ or ‘digital nomads’ or any other number of things, you can work from home doing virtually anything these days. Now, lets dig in and explore this space as it relates to diversifying your freelance career.

diversifying your freelance career

Here are just a few of the different jobs you can do from home as a freelancer:

  • Copywriter (obvs…)
  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Programmer
  • Blogger
  • Social Media Manager
  • PR or Marketing Associate
  • Customer Service
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Illustrator
  • Data Entry
  • Transcriptionist
  • Voice Over Artist

For me personally, what started as a freelance writing career quickly evolved into one that was much more varied. I took the skills (social media, Influencer outreach, marketing, public relations) that I’d learned from blogging and launching a blog-associated service biz to build a successful freelance career. You can easily duplicate this process for yourself because I guarantee you likely know a lot more than you think you do! (Don’t believe me? Check out how you can turn your blogging experience into a killer resume.)

Why Freelance Diversification is Important

You are a much more valuable freelance hire if you bring multiple skillsets to the table. Although there can certainly be value to specialization, you’ll be more likely to succeed, and thereby increase your earning power, if you branch out.

Think about this – a potential client needs to hire a blogger, email marketer, and a social media marketer. Because each role requires a specialized skillset, this client posts 3 individual opportunities on the jobs boards. Now, let’s say your experience enables you to undertake each of those tasks. Just think how valuable you become. Instead of having to onboard 3 individual freelancers and get comfortable with each of them and their abilities, this client can kill three birds with one stone, and you are that stone.

See what I’m getting at? Expand your horizons and learn how to put those writing chops (or social media skills, or design skills, or whatever it is you specialize in) to use in broader ways.

How to Crossover Your Freelance Experience

According to Upwork, the below list details the 20 most in-demand freelance skills.

  1. PHP Development
  2. Graphic Design
  3. Data Entry
  4. Content Writing
  5. Internet Research
  6. Javascript Development
  7. Web Design
  8. HTML5 Development
  9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  10. Social Media Marketing
  11. Logo Design
  12. Virtual Assistant
  13. Lead Generation
  14. MySQL Administration
  15. Android App Development
  16. jQuery Development
  17. iOS App Development
  18. Email Marketing
  19. Customer Service
  20. Illustration

Now, let’s pair up some of these skills and see how you can use the knowledge that you already have to grow your career.

Example 1 – Content Writing + Internet Research + Search Engine Optimization

Think about it – as a content writer, you likely already spend a good deal of time on both of those other skills. In order for your writing to be effective, good research goes a long way. And in this day and age of content as king, you probably can work even the most obscure longtail keyword phrase into any article in an organic way.

Example 2 – Social Media Marketing + Lead Generation + Email Marketing

These three skills all involve talking to and engaging the target market and potential customer base of a client, and they likely all have the same end goal – generating buzz, driving traffic, and increasing sales. There is definitely a synergy between these 3, and if you are savvy enough, you can help the potential client to understand the value of combining them in one role; a role that YOU are perfect for!

Now, you have two options:

1) You can spend some time studying up on those skills that you don’t count among your specialties. Take courses, read, and practice, practice, practice. Use your own freelancer personal brand as the stomping grounds to get your hands turn and gain some useable experience.

2) Fake it ’til you make it. Have confidence in your abilities to learn on the fly and apply the knowledge you’ve already gained, and jump right in. You just might surprise yourself.

Believe it or not, these are both very valid options. The route you choose is entirely up to you and your personality. Honestly, I’m an option #2 kind of girl. It’s worked well for me so far, and I’m excited to continue pushing the limits of my skills and capabilities. I love a challenge!

Diversify or Lose Your Freelance Relevance

The pace at which things evolve in this freelancing world is harrowing. It’s important to always be planning and looking ahead so that you can keep your skills on pace. If you get yourself stuck in just one specialty, you could likely become irrelevant in the near future. Anyone that built up a business with a focus on Facebook marketing 3 years ago is dealing with an entirely different world today.

You see, it’s all about the hustle, my friends. Keep pushing yourself, growing your skills, and getting the job done!

Taking On Too Much Freelance Work: a Cautionary Tale

Work is a good thing. Having plenty of work is an even better thing. But you know what’s a horrible, terrible, very bad, no good thing? Having more work than you can handle!

This was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn when starting my freelance career. I wanted lots and lots of work, not to mention the lots and lots of money that said work would generate. I was an opportunity-applying-and-accepting fool. If it came across my path, I jumped all over it with little thought to the time it would require.

Freelancer Tip

That alone isn’t such a bad thing, honestly. Knowing how to hustle and having the drive to get shit done are two of the biggest components of creating a successful freelance career, at least as far as I’m concerned. Successful businesses aren’t built on the backs of wimps!

If someone had warned me then about burnout, or the need for “me time,” or even the need for sleep, I would have written them off as lazy or not knowing what they were talking about. Why? Because I had no room for any of those things. I had goals and plans, and I wasn’t going to let a silly thing like sleep get in the way of my success. And for the most part, I still feel the same way.

So, this post is not going to be a feel-good, take-care-of-you kind of post. Instead, I’m going to get brutally honest with you. It’s simple math really. You can NOT complete 30 hours worth of work in a 24 hour day. I don’t care how strong your hustle game is; it’s just not going to happen. I speak from experience here. Learn from my screw ups so that you don’t have to suffer through them too.

Here’s what it looks like when you take on more freelance work than you can handle:

  1. You pat your badass self on the back for getting all of this awesome work
  2. You grab yourself an IV of coffee and get ready to get down to business
  3. You look at the clock and a little, niggling voice in your head starts to taunt that you’ll never get this all done
  4. You shut that bitch up with a swift backhand and knockout task number 1 in record time
  5. You keep plugging away, getting shit done, and laughing at your bladder’s insistence
  6. You realize you’re going to have to work faster if you’re really going to get everything done
  7. You decide to skip proofreading. It takes too much time that you don’t have, and you’re a stellar typist and speller anyhow
  8. The deadlines you agreed to inch ever closer and your brain is throbbing with those reminders
  9. You pause for 5 minutes to scarf down a quick dinner with the family and ignore the frightened look in your kids’ eyes when they ask how work is going and you answer honestly
  10. You get 60% of your work down and sent off, and cross your fingers that it’s good enough
  11. You miss your first deadline and ignore the email that comes in asking for an update
  12. You ignore three more emails from clients
  13. Your stress level is scaring you a little bit, so you calm yourself with a candy bar and quick chat with your husband
  14. You ignore the 5 other emails that came in when you were away from your desk for 2 minutes
  15. You finish and send off another project
  16. You realize that there is no way in hell you are going to get everything done
  17. You give up because you are exhausted and already way too far behind to ever get caught up
  18. You shut down your computer with some regret and resignation. You sleep hard and fast and full of self loathing
  19. You wake up, give yourself a pep talk, and get ready to face the music
  20. You’ve lost 2 clients that are pissed, you’ve gotten a bad review on Upwork, and another client is upset with the quality of work you turned in.

So…yeah…that’s about it in a nutshell. Taking on more work than you can handle will work itself out in the long run in the form of lost clients, upset clients, and bad reviews. I suppose if you want to free up your schedule, that’s one way to do it. I definitely don’t recommend it though.

What I do recommend instead is that you be realistic with your time. Consider how long it takes you to complete each of your jobs and how much sleep you need (even it’s just the bare minimum you need to function) and don’t take anything that will overflow those boundaries. Work hard, kill it with the clients that you have, build up favorable reviews and referrals, and start charging more for your work. Making more money for less work is the true goal after all, isn’t it?

And hey! Use my FREE “Freelance Opportunity Tracker’ to help you keep your applications in check. Subscribe in the box below to grab yours.

So, my friends, keep hustlin’…but be smart with your hustle!

Why You Should Track Your Freelance Job Applications

Life for most freelancers involves routinely checking the various job/gig opportunity boards and sites and applying for new work with new clients. Submitting regular freelance job applications is one of the best ways to ensure that your pipeline is always full of work.

I’ll admit that I’ve gone through seasons where my current workload has me at a breaking point as it is. During these times, looking for new work is often not even on my radar. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day.

I do try to at least keep an eye on my favorite work-finding spots even when I’m completely slammed though. That’s because you never know when the perfect opportunity – the one you’ve been looking for your whole life – is going to come up.

Regardless of what work-seeking phase I’m in, one thing I’ve come to rely on for keeping my freelance life organized is tracking all of my job applications. Let’s explore some of the reasons why this is so important.

Why it is important to track your freelance job applications

I’ve learned a thing or two about successfully sustaining my freelance career over the years. One of the things I’ve learned is that I get easily sidetracked and/or overwhelmed in the day-to-day sludge of work. When that happens, the business side of me gets buried under the work-horse side of me. And that can’t happen…at least not if I want to continue growing the biz, upgrading our lives, keeping our 5 kids in private school, and keeping my favorite mug overflowing with coffee.

You see, the work-horse side of me has a tendency to forget the true priorities and just work – the head-down, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of work. So I lose track of all of the potential opportunities that are in the wings. I know for a fact that I’ve potentially lost some really killer clients and projects as a result. Follow through pays off people. Trust me on this!

freelance opportunity tracker freebie

And that is number 1 on my list of reasons why you should track your freelance job applications.

  1. Follow through pays off. If you’re not keeping track, it’s easy to let something slip through the cracks. Yes, even the $50,000-for-two-months-worth-of-work type opportunities. Having a system in place helps ensure you won’t forget to reply to that potential dream client or submit a requested work sample for the best gig ever.
  2. It’s a killer learning opportunity. You can learn a lot about yourself based on the types of opps you apply for at different times. You can also learn what works and what doesn’t by paying attention to the different methods you used to apply, the rates you bid, the types of clients you pitched, and how those impacted whether you won or lost the work.
  3. It frees up much needed brain power. Any day I can get something on paper and out of my head is a good day!
  4. Accurately forecast earnings. As you track and monitor the jobs you’ve won, you’ll likely see a pattern emerge that shows your rates (and  hopefully the corresponding increases!). You’ll then be able to forecast on a month-to-month and yearly basis just where your business and earnings are heading.
  5. Look how far you’ve come! Honestly, this is probably my favorite reason. Nothing feels better than looking back at applications for 6 months or a year or two ago and seeing the progress I’ve made. You KNOW your hustle has paid off when you see you’ve recently applied for a gig that’s virtually the same as one you applied for a year ago, except now you bid 75% more than you did last time. Gotta love that rockstar feeling!

freelance gig tracker

How to track your freelance job applications

Now that I’ve got you on board with just how important it is as a freelancer to track all of your job apps, you might be wondering just what you should track. So, let’s break it down:

  • Potential client info – including name, contact info, website, and any other pertinent info you need or want to remember
  • Source of the opp and/or the platform where you applied – tracking the source is important for your learning process because it will help you learn where you have the most success and where you should spend the most time looking for new gigs. Tracking where you applied is also super important because you’ll need that info for following up. If you applied to an opp on Upwork, don’t waste hours scrolling through LinkedIn to try to find it again. Or, if you applied directly on a website, searching your sent email folder will be fruitless. You get the picture, right?
  • Date you applied, and the date you need to follow up if you haven’t heard back. I usually set my follow up date 3-5 days after the initial point of contact.
  • The freelancer basics: amount you bid, whether you won or lost the opp, specific details on the opp itself (such as needed word counts for articles, price per word, etc), and any other learnings so that you can keep track in the future

Want a ready-made tracking system for yourself? You’re in luck! I’m sharing my method with you completely free of charge. You can swipe the .pdf and .xls that I rely on to track all of my applications. Print several pages of the pdf to track by hand, or download the excel file and use as is. If you don’t have excel, you can upload the .xls file into Google Drive and use it that way.

freelance opportunity tracker freebie

To grab your freebie, just fill out that box in the bottom right hand corner of this screen. If you have ANY problems accessing, shoot me an email at and I’ll send it over to you myself.