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The State of Freelancing: Why Specialization Means More Opportunity for Freelancers & Less for Their FT Counterparts

Advice for Freelancers on Specializing

Written by Yuwanda Black

Becoming good at one thing and banking on that skill set to advance professionally – on the face of it – is a good thing. But, it could actually mean that full-time employees are working their way out of a job, while freelancers are able to capitalize more than ever on this very same thing. How/why?

In a nutshell, it’s because the traditional way of doing business in the world is changing (has changed) dramatically. As discussed in detail in the OuiShare article, Specialization and the New Economy:

The bigger and more hierarchical a company is, the less likely it is to be able to adapt to the changing needs of the marketplace. . . . Full-time employees of a typical company today are artificially isolated into their areas of expertise, … it’s easy for them to let their skills to become focused on the temporary and specific needs of one employer. Over time, those skills inevitably drift further and further away from the changing needs a constantly evolving economy.

While full-time workers optimize their skills to the needs of one particular role within an organization, the freelance contractor is able to move from company to company, developing an adaptable skill set that changes to meet the needs of the market as it evolves.

Is Your Skill Set Evolving to Benefit You, or an Employer?

If you’re a full-time employee at a big company, your skill set revolves around their needs, their vision and how they do business. This may – or may not – fit with what’s going on in the marketplace at large. But, let’s give the best case scenario and say that it does. It’s still highly unlikely that you’ll be up to date with all that’s going on outside of your company.

And if you get laid off, fired or downsized, how are you going to compete with freelancers who have all these skills that you have no idea about?

My Experience as a Freelance Editorial Worker

I’ve experienced this first hand. When I worked in corporate America, sure, I was competent on the systems, technology and procedures used at my company. But I was amazed when I started freelancing at just how much I DIDN’T know.

And, I worked for a Fortune 500 company – who I later found out was behind the curve on some technology for its editorial workers.

Now as a freelancer, I know so much more than I ever would have known as a full-time employee – because I have to. For example . . .

I know how to build and update e-commerce sites in HTML and WordPress;

Advice for Freelancers on SpecializingSet up and manage social media accounts;

Create landing pages;

Start a blog;

Start newsletters;

Create graphics;

Make money in affiliate marketing;

Create and sell online seminars and classes;

Write SEO content; and

Write and self-publish ebooks — and a whole lot more.

These are all baseline skills for me now.

The Irony of Freelancing: Full-Time Job Offers are Much Easier to Come By

Several clients who have hired me as a freelancer have offered me full-time positions because they were impressed and thought I’d be perfect for “X” position. And I’m not the only one, as the 14th comment from freelance SEO writer Donna on this post illustrates. She wrote:

I built my first professional website, and launched a legitimate SEO copy writing business in January 2012. I marketed as you suggested, and by April had a full time client load. I went from just writing articles to learning how to optimize an entire website by October 2012.

I learned how to write not only quick 400-500 word articles but in-depth, highly-researched, longer themed content in the alternative and medical fields. I learned how to write sales copy- much harder for me to do, but my client is impressed with the conversions. I got put on staff at one business and became a feature writer at another. I learned a number of internet marketing strategies in November 2012.

The cream is that at the beginning of December 2012 I was invited to interview as a SEO campaign specialist for a local mid-sized company. The hiring decision should be made before the end of the year. Even if I do not get the job, the experience has shot my confidence through the roof. I plan to completely rebrand myself and my company since businesses recognize and value my skill sets.

I come from a publishing background and still have friends who work in corporate America in this field. Do you know how many of them have no idea how to set up a simple blog? Many of them can’t even change the background on their Facebook pages. And there’s nothing wrong with this.

I just point it out to say how much more advanced my skill set is BECAUSE I freelance. And that’s the whole point of the aforementioned OuiShare article.

When you specialize as a freelancer, your specialization is NOT built around a specific company and how they do business; it’s built around a niche you want to serve as a freelancer.

And because you want to continue to be marketable to that NICHE (not one employer), you keep your skill set up to date. This means you’re constantly working your way IN to more work, not working your way OUT of a job.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you feel that you’ve expanded your skill set because you freelance? Do you feel that you’re more or less marketable as a full-time employee? Please share in the comments section below.

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