When new or aspiring freelancers come to me eager-eyed and ready to work, one of the first roadblocks we hit together is their limited knowledge of the digital tools it takes to do their job effectively or use their skills in global or remote teams settings. Sadly this limitation sometimes sends these new freelancers back to where they came from, without trying.
Here’s an example: let’s say you want to become a professional writer working in a distributed team. To succeed, you must know how to collaborate and share documents (with the right permissions) via Google Docs. You must know how to find the perfect feature images that fit your client’s style guide for your articles with Pexels or Unsplash. You must know how to create accompanying social media images with Canva or Easli.
You must also know how to navigate WordPress so you can publish or submit your article for review. And before getting to this stage of writing, publishing and distributing, you must have passed the research part where you dig deep into Google Search or a site like BuzzSumo to know what has been written on your topic of choice and what angle you can focus on. If you want your article to hit the hearts of many, you may also decide to use tools like Hubspot’s Headline Analyzer to pick an engaging heading.
And after all this is done, you face the promotion aspect. Publications and clients often expect you to promote the published post on social media, other relevant community forums, and top publications in the niche to get more eyeballs and a link back to their site. This is standard and separates exceptional freelancers from others. A new freelancer, however, may find it overwhelming but that’s no reason to stop.
Letting all you have to learn to overwhelm you and push you to quit before you start is self-sabotage because you know what? Most of these tools are easy-peasy, intuitive to use, made with users in mind and go further to provide support in form of videos, tutorials and customer support for new users to train.
If your job needs you to learn how to use a certain tool, you owe it to yourself to learn it so you can progress quickly.
My first job as a freelance writer was for a company that specialized in SEO for small businesses. I remember walking into their office, determined to get out of there with my first writing job. After my pitch, the busy CEO saw me for barely ten minutes before he decided to give me a shot at the rate of 20 cedis (barely $4) per article. That was a really low pay but I was over the moon. I could call myself a paid writer now and I did all I could to learn about their industry, tools, and clients.
Through that job which went on for quite a while, I got to learn about SEO, practice with the company’s tools, learn in a safe environment and get my first pay-check as a professional freelance writer. What if I had walked away because I didn’t know much about how SEO worked or how to use the Google Keyword Planner. That would have been a starting opportunity lost.
That was 2014; now I make way more than that not just writing but through other skills I’ve picked up along the way.
Why do I share this story? To urge you to not give up on all you have to learn yet.
The next time you talk to a client or another established freelancer and they’re telling you about all you need to know and the tools you have to learn to use, don’t let fear take over your brain! You can learn whatever you need to learn, given enough time and practice. You just have to believe that you can and keep at it until it gets easier.
Don’t be scared of all you have to learn, just get started.