Whether one find themselves in the midst of a crisis, a world pandemic or something on a personal level; sometimes it’s simply hard to look past the obstacles. Being in the world of freelancing is challenging in itself. During difficult times like this, the key to keeping your freelance projects is to have a firm, realistic plan.
You can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you adapt and react to it! Take some time to rationally plan out the forthcoming future, take into consideration your budget, goals, challenges, and solutions. Create a list and write it all down. Find the time to share your burdens and connect with others, this isn’t a time for one to be completely isolated. Practice self-care, focus on the present and stay on track with your commitments.
For this edition of our freelancer spotlight, we interviewed Kassaundra Lockhart. She is from Lexington, North Carolina and has been in the freelance industry for about 7 years. Kassaundra loves being a freelancer because it gives her a lot of flexibility and variety. From going out to meeting new people, working on different projects, at different times, or at different speeds.
As a freelancer, Kassaundra is a writer and does communication consulting, and she is a certified personal trainer. Kassaundra is also the owner of KSL Can where she offers a wide range of services including writing, fitness, public relations, marketing, social media, and motivational speaking.
Could you tell me how you got into freelancing?
It’s very interesting how I got into freelancing. I was working in education and I had gotten laid off because they cut the funding for the project I was working on. I had plans to move back home to look for jobs, meanwhile, I was just kind of doing odds and ends jobs.
At that time, a schoolmate of mine who was an executive director of a non-profit, she saw the work I have been doing on my Facebook page. She contacted me, brought me in for an interview and told me she need it help with their marketing and PR writing. It was literally like a light bulb that kind of went off like, Oh well I could just consult on my own. It never even dawned on me to contract my services. So that’s how I got started!
What is your favorite aspect of freelancing?
I think flexibility. At least for me, because I’m a writer and do communication consulting. So I can pretty much do that from anywhere. As long as I have a Wi-fi connection and a laptop, I can write or do zoom meetings from pretty much anywhere. I could go to a coffee shop, or if I don’t want to leave the house that day I can stay at home and work. So I like the flexibility.
Which were the biggest challenges you had to overcome as a freelancer?
It’s probably finding what works best, as far as finding clients. Also seeing the things that work for others and then kind of trying to see what sticks for me. Some of the things will stick for a while, or sometimes they won’t anymore. You might think you put out this amazing proposal and then they don’t accept it. So it’s really probably just diving in a little deeper and always keeping yourself motivated. If I’m not looking for work, then I’m typically not finding work and work doesn’t always land in my lap.
What is another challenge you can tell us about?
Probably, the biggest struggle is the constant hustle of trying to make sure people know what you do and that you’re available. Also it keeps me motivated the challenge to get up and do that every day. If this is what I’m going to do, this is how I have to do it, then I’ve got to do these things.
What is the freelance industry lacking in terms of information?
That’s a good question. For freelancers, I think what’s lacking is a true community. As a freelancer sometimes I know I’m not the only person having these issues, but where do I go to find people that are having these same issues?
Definitively it’s very hard to find people that have the same issues as me, especially online. You can go to networking events and stuff like that. But if I’m just doing a Google search and I’m in a moment where I’m like, okay, let me see if I can find some people who could help or have suggestions. Like, where do I go? You know, there isn’t like a true one-stop-shop to find freelancers. I think that’s lacking among ourselves.
And from a client’s perspective?
Since I’m a freelance writer, from a clients’ perspective, I like to always know what I could do better and not what necessarily I did wrong. For instance, if my proposal gets rejected, I appreciate it when somebody tells me why it did or why it didn’t work for them. It’s not necessarily anything personal, it’s just knowing that if something didn’t work out, I’d like to know what they were looking for. I’ll always appreciate the feedback because it helps me go forward.
Tell us more about that.
Unfortunately, I don’t always find a lot of people who do that. I understand they get a lot of submissions or proposals, but the way society is going, people are going to rely on freelancers a lot more. So if you’re giving them the information upfront when you’re out searching for freelancers because they know what you’re looking for, then you’re likely to get there to propose gender pitches and things of that nature instead of just saying no. And just leaving it at that.
I do hope people will be willing to say, or write one or two sentences why your writing style did not work out for them. Just some kind of indication so you can know how to improve yourself the next time.
Do you have recommendations for people that want to be a freelancer, but they don’t know how to start?
I think the first step is just figuring out what it is that you want, what service you want to freelance. And you know, because there are a lot of services you could freelance and you can pretty much contract for anything. So it’s just finding out what you want to contract and then just start doing it. You don’t have to necessarily wait until you perfect everything.
I didn’t hone my writing skills by just sitting around waiting on somebody to ask me to write. I honed it by finding clients, they allowed me to write and continued to write for them. So I honed my skills by doing whatever it was that I want to freelance. I think a lot of times people just wait until somebody says, okay, I need you. And then they start working on it. It’s like, no, you need to go in, you need to be already doing it so they can see what you’re capable of.
How did you get your first clients?
Technically, my first client, it would have been the lady that I referenced earlier, the executive director of the nonprofit she worked for. I would guess Facebook is probably the way I got it cause that’s where she was seeing the things I was doing and where I was most active.
What do you think your favorite project has been?
One of my favorite projects I have been involved with is for this famous barbecue festival. It’s a one day festival in my hometown, Lexington, NC where we have about 21,000 people.
This past year it was the 37th year of the festival and on average about 150 to 200,000 people come to town just for that one day. It’s a very well known festival for the style of barbecue, it happens every October, the last Saturday of October. For the past four years, I’ve done social media and some communication consulting for the festival. I really just enjoy it, because I’m 38 and the festival is only a year younger than myself. So it’s been amazing to be on the other side of it and see how it’s grown and the work that goes into it.
Tell us more about your involvement in this event.
Also being a part of the media, handling media requests and getting to be the host involves updating social media and finding cool things that they showcase and stuff like that. I think for me because it’s home and because it’s been stable for so long, it means a lot. We get to showcase all the good things that are going on here in Lexi too.
Although it’s such a small city the fact that so many people come every year from all over the world and put it on their calendar. I’ve met people from other countries who have scheduled their trips around this time just so they could come to this festival. They obviously came to do other things while they’re here, but for instance, I met a person who came from Austria and they found out about the festival through some cooking channel and I’m like really? So that’s probably been my favorite, one of my favorites is just being involved with that.
How was your experience in working with Creative Allies?
It’s been really good. I hadn’t heard of Creative Allies until last year. There was a lady I met on Twitter and I think I became part of her email group and she actually sent out an email about a webinar that Creative Allies was doing. I think I had to fill out a questionnaire about the types of things that I do and then I received an email a while back about this project that I had just completed. So it’s been really good! Amie has been my contact, and she’s been very thorough and always very reachable. She’s very helpful and patient. So I’ve had a great experience, for the first time and I would definitely work with Creative Allies again.
Tell us more about what you do currently?
I’m a correspondent for my local newspaper, so I write a lot for them. Additionally, I have some other publications that I write for. I’m also a certified personal trainer, so I have clients that I train in different areas whether it’s weight loss, building muscle or overall physical and mental health. Also I teach group exercise classes.
I do a few other things, but I feel like I’m focused on writing for quite a while. Writing is mainly what I enjoy the most and I’ve been focused on branching more into communication consulting because that’s a local find.
Where can people find you and your work?
I do have a business page with KSL Can. My Twitter and Instagram handles are both @ksl_can. Although I’m still working and doing projects currently, I will give a disclaimer that I have deactivated my social media because I take breaks from time to time or you may not see anything from me on social media for two months. Personally I’m not necessarily engaged, so don’t be alarmed if I haven’t posted. But I do have the skills to tell people how to do their social media or grow their followers.
My website is www.kslcan.com
My contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have anything else to share with the community?
I would just say two things. One, understand that everybody’s not going to get you. Freelancing is a whole different type of world and most people that aren’t creative are not going to understand why you don’t want to go back to a normal job. Or why you’re willing to work five and six different projects just to make ends meet. Knowing that it’s okay not to be understood because we’re all different. That’s probably the biggest thing to know that you won’t be understood and some people just won’t get it.
What is the other thing?
Trust yourself and trust in your work. Part of it goes back to people not understanding, but there is a lot of rejection out there. I learned that rejection doesn’t mean that I necessarily did something wrong, but they found someone whose work fits better. Also trusting that there’s somebody out there that at some point it’s going to say yes, I want you, I want your work or I want you to be on this project.
There are a ton of projects out there and you just have to keep working at it and believing in yourself. You can’t stop because I look at all the people who have stopped. We wouldn’t have some of the things that we are able to do today, such as the publications we write for, or newsletters or even Creative Allies. I’m sure if Amie stopped doing everything all at once, you and I wouldn’t be talking here today.
There’s always something down the line that’s going to make sense. Then you would be able to understand and just to trust yourself.