When I invited Francesca of Punto F to be the next guest of Freelancing Stories, I immediately asked her to share her secrets about how to differentiate your offerings without losing your focus in a freelance business.
She is an interpreter and translator, but also a copywriter, tutor and mentor. And in a world where we're told that freelancers should only propose one single offering to be successful, that's a lot to think about! But what I was surprised to see is the way everything seems to perfectly fall into place for her. How all her different offerings seem to have the exact same focus!
We're chatting all that in today's episode, as well as sharing Francesca's story from the very beginning, and all her secrets about freelancing...
It’s always quite challenging explaining what I do! In my business I’ve tried to differentiate my offerings according to each gift of mine.
I studied languages since I was in kindergarten and I couldn’t help becoming an interpreter and translator, foreign languages tutor and copywriter. I help people communicating when they can’t find the right words to spread their message in another language. Moreover, in 2016 I founded the Freelance Lab, the first Italian mentoring project for wannabe freelancers.
I’ve always known I would have worked with languages and preferably as a freelancer. This because I don’t like (much) doing what I’m not good at and being told what to do.
But when I graduated I just wanted my independency and to have a flat by my own, so I accepted the first proposal I received as an employee. I started working for a multinational corporation taking care of warranty claims – not that exciting. My contract was awful, so I looked for a better one and within few months I got contacted for a new job as an interpreter and translator and assistant for sales department. This time I gained a permanent employment contract and I was able to move into my new home.
But after one year – in which I felt uncomfortable with my 8am-7pm job, doing all day long, every single day, the same very things – the company stopped paying my (and my colleagues’) salary. I had to think about what to do then. And even if terrified by the unknown, I decided to jump into a new adventure, the one of freelancing. Since then six years have passed and there’s no single day that I regret that risky choice!
Honestly? I wanted to get rich!!
That’s what I was dreaming when I first started out. And I really wanted to do what I loved and what I was best at while I tried.
Actually, I’m doing my best in order to work better and in the fields I like most. I’m enjoying every day the pleasure of waking up and being happy about my life and my job. And when you’re a freelancer with many skills, differentiating your offerings is your best bet. I’m not rich yet, but I can pay my bills and that’s one of the best satisfaction I ever felt!
I know I might sound weird, but when I started I definitely had no idea of what I was doing and what would have happened. I thought – how naïve I was! – it would just have worked out because I wanted it deeply to. I wasn’t ready for all the work behind the scenes you need if you want to work as a freelancer. I always say my caviette (little guinea peas, how I call my mentees) that you have to imagine a freelance business as a small company in which you are the only one who works and takes care about anything: you have to be prepared to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Tons of them – and still!
First of all, I wasn’t conscious about what it meant to start a freelance business. I went with the flow, saying yes to any proposal, at any price, without a specific goal in mind. Didn’t promote myself and my services. Offered things I couldn’t handle (such as editorial proofreading). Also I set up a website and a logo by myself that resulted in an awful and completely unclear image (I chose very light colors and people found it very hard to read what was written on my website and my business cards – such a fail!).
But most of all I felt alone and didn’t know where to find answers to all my questions. That is why I decided to further differentiate my offerings and add mentoring to my business. To help newly or wannabe freelancers finding their path with consciousness and teaching them how to avoid my mistakes with the Freelance Lab.
Differentiating your offerings without losing your focus also means knowing how to declutter. Right now I’m following my own advice and decluttering old services I don’t want to do anymore in order to focus on what I really love most.
After almost five years’ activity, I want now to establish my business and stop trying different paths. I want to focus more on interpreting and writing – my first and truest loves. To continue doing translations but only in the fields I like most, such as food, wine, tourism and marketing. And of course also mentoring but only for a small number of mentees.
I think my secret isn’t a secret at all. It’s just something that who is first launching his/her business ignores and disregards. Being aware of what it means to be a freelancer!
As I stated before, you are the only one working on your business and you have to be prepared to take care of it all. You’ll need to know how much to charge for a service, how your competitors are doing, how much taxes you will pay, how to make an invoice, which services to offer and which not. It seems stupid, but ask yourself if you know how to deal with these aspects, just to name a few! And if not, do your researches online, ask your accountant, your friends and colleagues, learn and fix your lacks.
And don’t forget to plan your activities and to organise yourself, your personal and business time, your studio. This way you’ll nourish your focus and won’t be distracted by things that don’t matter to you.
Last but not least: find and build a supporter team. Be sure to have someone in and outside your field to talk to, to discuss about your doubts, to open your heart to. You often feel alone when freelancing and a friendly face or hug is what you’ll need to keep rocking. You can do it!
Want to be featured in the next episode of Freelancing Stories? I'd love to hear from you! If you run a freelance business (of any kind) and would like to share your inspiring story, please feel free to get in touch! In the meanwhile use the hashtag #freelancingstories to start inspiring fellow creatives with your story of courage and creativity!
A creative atelier curating brand and web designs for women-owned businesses.
I design and curate intentional brand designs and websites to cultivate your idea and bring your value out there.