New and aspiring freelancers often ask me how I built my freelance business and how I’m able to freelance full-time. Now I don’t have a simple answer for any of those questions, but I do owe a lot to my friend and mentor Shauna. When I was first starting, I had no idea what I was doing. When I connected with her, I wasn’t looking for a freelancer mentor per se, but trust me when I say that having a mentor like Shauna completely changed the freelance game for me.
A 2019 survey found that 76% of people think mentors are important, yet only 37% of people currently have one. Meaning that 39% of people are missing out big time.
No matter how independent you are or where you’re at in your freelance journey, there will be days that feel like you’re driving towards a destination that doesn’t exist. Having a helping hand can go a long way – especially if you’re just dabbling into the freelancing world.
If you’re not quite sure what a freelance mentor does or how a mentoring relationship can work, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll be answering some of the most common questions I get about mentorship like:
- What exactly is a freelance mentor?
- What are the benefits of having a freelance mentor?
- Where can I find a mentor?
- What qualities should a good freelance mentor have?
- Does it cost anything to have a mentor?
- How can I make the most of a mentor relationship?
So let’s get into it!
What exactly is a freelance mentor?
A freelance mentor is someone experienced and successful at freelancing who is willing to share their knowledge with you.
What are the benefits of having a freelance mentor?
Mentorship is extremely valuable in almost every industry, but especially in freelancing. It can be exciting at first to be able to work when and where you want with nothing but a laptop, but the initial excitement can wear off quickly.
Along the way, you’ll have questions…lots of them.
How do I price this package? What website should I use for invoicing? Where can I find potential clients? Is there a certain amount of days I should wait before following up on a lead?
Nobody just wakes up with all of these answers.
Unlike a traditional job, there’s no guidebook or manager to tell you what to do as a freelancer. Even if you’re determined to navigate the process alone, there’s really no downside to getting a little nudge in the right direction.
Having a freelance mentor gives you access to feedback that can help you make important decisions about your biz. It also gives you the opportunity to:
1. Learn from their mistakes
As someone that has made more mistakes than I sometimes like to admit, take advantage of the expertise that’s out there. Yes, making mistakes can often lead to growth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dodge a few slippery slopes along the way.
2. Get feedback
Sure, typing “What’s a good rate for a 500-word blog post?” into Google might get you some answers but wouldn’t you rather have tailored advice based on your niche or your experience level? Getting feedback on your packages, pricing, and more is one of the key benefits of having a freelance mentor.
3. Bounce ideas
As creatives, we tend to second-guess ourselves. Is this pitch wow-worthy? Will anyone click on this title? Does this branding showcase who I am? Sharing ideas with someone that’s gone through all of those exact feelings can not only widen your perspective but also help you feel more confident about pursuing different opportunities.
4. Have someone in your corner
Validation is hard to get when you’re working solo, which is why having a mentor in your corner to cheer you on and be an accountability partner is invaluable.
Where can you find a mentor?
For starters, take advantage of your personal network. Is there anyone you already know that’s doing what you want to be doing? Maybe an old colleague or a friend-of-a-friend?
If you don’t have any leads there, start lurking on social media. Facebook and Slack groups are a great place to find people that are working in your target niche and might be open to mentoring you.
Finding the right freelance mentor might require some research and cold reach-outs. You’ll likely feel a little weird when putting yourself out there, but don’t the fear of coming across as annoying stop you. If your potential mentor is too busy or can’t take on your request, they could still direct you to someone else who has the capacity to help you out.. Just make sure you’re actively following up with those that you reach out to.
What qualities should a good freelance mentor have?
Would you take financial advice from someone that’s struggling to get out of debt? Probably not, right? The same thinking applies here.
You should seek out people that inspire you and are doing what you want to be doing, but make sure that this person isn’t just doing it all for the ‘gram. Find the freelancers that come with receipts. Do they have reviews or testimonials on their website? Are they getting featured in the media? Figure out who they work with, what people are saying about them, and how they got to where they are.
Finding a freelancer mentor that checks all those boxes can help you get the feedback, guidance, and connections you need to start your freelance career on the right foot.
Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach?
Yes. A mentor relationship is usually informal and long-term between a mentor and mentee, which isn’t the case with coaches.
Does it cost anything to have a mentor?
Well, it depends. In my case, I was lucky enough that Shauna generously answered a bunch of questions I had through DMs until I eventually asked if we could talk on the phone.
Not every mentor is going to charge you for their time, but it’s important to remember that some might. For example, if you connect with a mentor through a membership or coaching program, then there will likely be a fee attached. However, it’s important to note that paid mentorship programs often come with added perks like online communities, access to events and meet-ups, special offers, partner perks on products and services, and more.
How can I make the most of a mentorship?
If someone is willing to offer you their time, resources, and knowledge, then you need to:
1. Show up prepared
If you reached out to someone that has agreed to be your mentor, then you’re likely already familiar with their work. Still, it won’t hurt to do some background research before you meet. Have they done any public speaking? Is there a blog section on their website? Make sure they know that you’ve gone further than just scrolling through their feed.
2. Get comfortable asking for help
There’s no shortage of info online, but take the time to understand your freelance mentor’s expertise so you can ask them questions they haven’t already answered elsewhere.
3. Discuss next steps
Growing and building a relationship requires time commitment and effort on both parts. Take initiative at the end of each conversation to figure out what you can work on next and how they can help you with that process.
4. Show gratitude
Remember that your mentor has taken time out of their day to help you, so it’s important to show them gratitude. Make sure you always show up on time and respect their boundaries. For example, don’t text or call your mentor out of the blue unless you’ve agreed to it ahead of time. Also, a simple thank you email after your first meeting can go a long way.
When it comes to freelancing, remember that even if you’re running a solo business, you don’t have to go at this alone. Getting support from a mentor can help you avoid costly mistakes and set you up for future success.
Now maybe you’ve read all of this, and you’re thinking, “That’s great, Jasmine, but I need more support than just a mentor to get started.”
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.
I’ve created a freelance mentorship program called Click-worthy Creative Academy that distills my almost 10 years of freelance experience into a 6-week intensive course designed to help all of you freelance writers, creatives, and consultants out there get further, faster.
Inside this program, you’ll get:
- Access to the exact tactics, tools, and resources I use every day in my business
- Receive next-level accountability so you can take serious action in your business (no more procrastination station!)
- The opportunity to connect with and learn alongside other like-minded creative professionals
- One-on-one support from yours truly, every step of the way
Most people (myself included) learned how to freelance the hard way – by spending way too much time Googling their problems or lurking in Facebook groups, searching for answers.
Click-worthy Creative Academy will help you get further – faster – by providing you with the tools, guidance, and support you need to confidently build your freelance business and position yourself as a high-value service provider.