Identifying Your Primary and Secondary Disciplines
Freelancers generally have one area where they focus most of their effort to find projects and do work for clients, as well as other related areas that help round them out and expand their earnings and experience. I refer to these as primary and secondary disciplines, respectively. Exploring your skills and comparing them to those demanded by the freelance marketplace will put you in a good position to identify what these disciplines are. This in turn will help you recognize which project categories on freelancing sites you should concentrate on in your search for work opportunities.
Your primary discipline is your major area of concentration as a freelancer. This seems pretty self-evident, and most freelancers, even new ones, will know before they even get started what their primary discipline is. However, when I talk about a primary discipline, I am referring a field narrow enough in focus that clients are looking for expertise or experience in it specifically. For example, I don’t consider “writer”, “designer”, “programmer” or “engineer” to be primary disciplines; they are just broad categories. Better examples of disciplines would be “travel writer”, “logo designer”, “game programmer” or “electrical engineer”. Of course, even here, some disciplines are broader than others: electrical engineering is one obvious example that can encompass many sub-disciplines.
Some freelancers have more than one area of specific expertise, and thus more than one primary discipline. These may even be seemingly unrelated: for example, I personally consider myself to have three primary disciplines: technical writing, script programming and photography / photo editing.
Your primary disciplines are where you will focus most of your effort in freelancing. This is the core of your business, and you will want to develop and nurture it as much as possible.
Secondary disciplines are fields of endeavor that are related to your primary work areas. For example, if you are mainly a travel writer, you might also look for jobs writing about food or architecture; if you design logos you might also work on brochures or advertising. Programmers who mostly do work on websites might also look for database jobs.
If your primary discipline(s) are broad enough and you are very successful in the bidding process, you may not need to look for work in secondary areas. But most freelancers, especially new ones, will find that they can’t win enough projects to keep them busy in their main areas of concentration, especially if they are working full time. Looking in secondary areas will provide you with not only more opportunities to earn money, but other advantages as well:
Of course your primary disciplines also help in these areas.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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