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Can Freelancing be a Full Time Career? Surviving Year 1 of Freelancing in 2020

We Got Lucky

This year has been difficult for many of us. Of the long list of challenges we have all experienced, the main one that comes to my mind is battling unemployment. Knowing all too well the mental burdens that come from not knowing where I am going to pay my bills the following month, I am truly grateful to say that I have gone throughout the entirety of 2020 without having to worry about money for the first time.

To preface this blog post, I want to say that there were two things that were in my favor this year:

  1. I am making a living getting paid in USD while living in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Africa;
  2. I am sharing my expenses with my fiancé.

In January, my fiancé and I decided to travel the world and live as digital nomads. Due to COVID-19, our journey was cut short and we’ve been living in South Africa since March. To make ends meet, we’ve scoured the internet to look for remote work, most of it coming in the form of freelance projects.

Copywriting, media buying, consulting, Youtube marketing, project management, website design, and email marketing are part of a growing list of services that we’ve both had to learn this year. I had the advantage of already having 4 years of experience as a digital marketer working at agencies like VaynerMedia, but my fiancé has shown that she is also a quick learner and we often share insights we are learning from each of our clients to help each other out.

Of all of the things we’ve learned from both our successful and unsuccessful projects, the most important lesson would have to be sharing what we are learning in real-time. With that being said, here are some lessons we’ve shared with each other that I think would help you in your search for work during the last weeks of 2020 and in the beginning of 2021:

Skills > Roles

My fiancé has started to think about how her career will look in 20 years. She says that you have to think about your end goal and then reverse-engineer it.

It’s okay to have odd-jobs, one-off projects, and random gigs to help you prepare for your future dream job. People will often judge you for having random projects but, a great way to become great at one thing is to think laterally.

Instead of specializing in a particular area, which is what we are taught to do in college, become a generalist instead and work on gathering as many skills as possible. Even if you have a specific role in mind for your career in the future, don’t think that you have to obtain that job role now, in 2021, or even in this decade. Catalog what skills are necessary for the job, remember that those skills will change over time, and think about what adjacent or related roles could you apply for that could help you get to your dream job later on in the future.

Create Content To Create An Ideal First Impression

Every single person who has ever applied for an actual “job-job” has submitted their resume so that they can be considered. So what makes you think that you will stand out if all you do is submit your resume—just like everyone else? Instead, consider what type of content you can add to your resume to create a bigger story. Obviously, the end goal should be to make yourself more interesting but, start off with writing/recording/talking about things that genuinely interest you.

Employers today want to know that you have the skills necessary to help grow their businesses on day one of the job, your content can potentially help demonstrate those marketing skills. The way I started was by creating content around the interesting aspects of work I was doing at the moment. I started doing this back in 2015 and now whenever you Google search “Kenny Soto”, you will encounter a growing library of content that helps create a designed first impression—before ever interacting with me.

Our plan for 2021 is to continue to stay employed, to enjoy what we do, and to document the process in the hopes that we can help at least one other person find meaningful work. I personally suspect that 2021 will be harder than 2020 but, let’s leave that for another blog post in the future.

In the meantime, check out some of my other articles to get more insights into digital marketing and job searching tips. Thanks for reading and hope this post helped you out!


Image Credit: Unsplash

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