Mastering the Art of “Freelancing Theater”

Freelancing isn’t just a career, it’s an entire state of being. Independence, flexibility – these are traits that can’t help but be developed the longer you’re a freelancer. Yet, there’s another important component to making it in this world – what I like to call “freelancing theater.” Basically, it’s the art of maintaining an appearance of the utmost self-assuredness/expertise in one’s chosen niche.

Make (people) believe.

You know those people in public life who seem unshakeable? It’s because most of the time they carefully mask their true emotions and portray themselves according to how they want the media/audiences to perceive them. The same can actually be said of those who thrive off of controversy. Public personas are very rarely synonymous with complete authenticity.

Yes, it’s necessary to portray yourself with honesty, but the freelancing theater technique comes into play (no pun intended) when you need to detract from possible portfolio hiccups that might hinder employment opportunities. At the same time, you need to really promote those distinguishing qualities that lead you wanting to become a freelancer in the first place.

Consider, for a moment, this hypothetical scenario:

  • You’re a freelance writer who really wants to segue into editing. Your work has been well-received, with very little-to-no-cause for rewrites or even any changes. Glowing feedback seems to follow you from writing client to writing client.
    • After much searching (both of your soul and job boards) you’ve come across an editing gig that you just know you’d be perfect for. The thing is, you need previous experience. Freelancing theater has a solution for that.
      • Let us imagine the curtain rising and you stepping onto the stage by taking the “different perspective” approach. No, you haven’t edited other people’s work, but you certainly have edited your own!
        • In your application, gloss over the “other” and focus on your personal strengths in grammar/punctuation/all things editing. If the prospective client indicates something like “Must be well-versed in AP Style,” read up on that, find an egregiously written piece somewhere, and point out its flaws and how you’d improve it.

Made to persuade…

Freelancing theater is equal parts showing what you can do, and what you’re confident that you can achieve. Negate the negative, promote the positive. Like actual acting, this takes time to develop convincingly. One way to fast track the process is to put yourself in the position of a potential client or audience. What would you look for in a freelancer or in a blog/business-centric website?

It’s understandable, especially in this exceptionally varied career path, to have moments of doubt. You must first convince yourself that you’re capable of achieving your dreams. Don’t ever give the impression that you’re struggling to gain (or maintain) freelancing success. Be creative, be compassionate, be confident, and take your place in the spotlight.

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