When I was still working full-time, I used to change jobs every 2-3 years. From an insurance benefits management company to a video game studio. A large financial institution to an internet security company. My main writing “toolkit” stayed the same, but I wanted to apply it to different industries, products, and writing projects.
Caption: My writing toolkit came with me to each job
That’s not to say I never learned anything new. Each new job gave me the chance to learn new skills and tools that I was able to take with me to the next job. And apply those skills in new and different ways.
In every case, I always thought long and hard before moving to a new job. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. Otherwise I risked making a bad move and ending up in a less-than-ideal situation (which only happened to me once, by the way).
In our freelance careers, adding a new service to our business or shifting from one market/niche to a different one has bigger implications than simply changing full-time jobs. There’s a lot more work that goes into our businesses, so shifting requires more preparation.
After all, our marketing, messaging, and most likely our lead generation materials are all targeted to our existing niche.
Does this mean you can never switch niches or writing project types? Absolutely not. Many freelancers learn new skills during their careers, take on new interests, or simply need a change.
So, when you’re ready to make that change, how can you go about it?
How to change freelancing lanes?
Changing the course of your freelance career is much like changing lanes in traffic. It involves training, preparation, and time.
Caption: Change freelance lanes with preparation and belief
Reach out to your network and update your marketing message
You’ve got a freelance network for a reason, so use it. Ask everyone for their advice and suggestions. There’s a strong possibility you already know someone who is doing (or has done) what you want to do next.
You may want to consider asking this person to mentor you as well, especially if you’re making a big change (like moving from one niche to its seeming opposite). Remember to be coachable and learn as much as you can.
Look at your website, your LinkedIn profile, and any other marketing collateral you have. Will it work in the new niche or service? What new messaging do you need to produce? Where and how will you tell your prospects about your new offering?
Spend some time preparing for whatever changes are needed in your marketing efforts.
Set aside time for training
Even if your new freelancing path is similar to what you’re doing right now, it’s good to set aside time for training. There is a lot of information available online, both in formal and informal training, so you’ll need time to do it all. Check out books, sites, communities, and webinars to get a good grounding in your new area.
Invest in a business coach
Training on your own is probably good for most people, but sometimes having a coach walk you through the steps can be helpful too. A coach can give you guidance on your new freelance path, helping to clear any mental obstacles you may have.
Find the confidence to jump in
This one’s less concrete, but no less important. Jumping into a new freelance career path requires belief in yourself and your ability to make change. Any time we leave our comfort zone, we may experience self-doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety. We may even make mistakes and fail. The key is to not let failure anchor you and stop you from changing.
Visualization is a good way to help you overcome your doubts and create a “psychological distance” from the negativity. It need only take 30 seconds a day, but can be the most critical 30 seconds of your day. Use this routine to start using visualization to propel you into the next stage of your freelancing career.
When you’re ready to venture into a new freelancing path, the key is planning and being prepared. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small change in your service offering or wholesale changes like moving into a completely new market. To set yourself up for success, you’ll need to prepare both professionally and emotionally. These four tips will set you on the right path to freelance success, no matter the market or niche.