…asked my reader Chris in an email:
To impose a question, is it financially lucrative to be a freelance web strategist? I am considering such a path for myself, and if you have a chance to explain your successes and failures to me…
Well, Chris, thanks for the question – a good one, too! So let’s dig right into this.
One, to get that out of the way: Yes, I feel very fortunate to make a good living from this line of work. (If you had told me this a few years ago, I would have thought you were crazy. Today, for me this is reality, and I can hardly believe how lucky I am to be paid for doing the stuff I love to do!) So the financial aspects shouldn’t stop you. (As money can move into, and out of, an industry quickly, though, this shouldn’t be your driving motivation – do what you feel passionate about, the rest will follow.)
That said, what I do is freelance work, so there’s no regular, reliable paycheck. There is always a certain amount of uncertainty about the future, even while business is good. If this is something you don’t feel comfortable with, freelancing is not for you. (Not a shame either, but it is something you should think about first.)
Two, apart from that, it’s pretty much intuitive: Do good work, be creative, and: blog, blog, blog. You will be consulting with your clients on topics like web communication, social media and blogging, so you need to know your tools & feel comfortable with them. From my experience, this is not only very rewarding because you meet so many cool folks, it’s also you best way of advertising your services. Do leave your traces online, be it via your blog address, via Twitter or any other means you feel comfortable with. Personally, I’m convinced that this kind of word of mouth is ultimately more important than all business cards, flashy websites and conferences combined. (Although attending the industry get-togethers certainly doesn’t hurt. But again, I go less for the networking than for meeting interesting folks to learn from.)
Three: Ask, ask, ask. As the old Twitter saying goes, it’s not who’s listening to you, but who you listen to. For example, you should listen very well to Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Brogan, both of whose blogs I read religiously, because they’re always insightful and inspiring. There’s plenty of others to discover, of course!
That’s just a brief rundown. Other than that, experiment & find your niche. How about connecting via Twitter to begin with? All the best, Chris, for your endeavors!