The Hunger Games’ Three-Point Guide to Freelancing

This trilogy of dystopian books has sold over 65 million copies in the US and been published in 51 languages. What, though, can The Hunger Games teach us about freelancing? Quite a lot, as it happens.



In fact, there is so much that you can apply to your work as a freelancer, that it has provided enough material for a delightful three-point guide.

Read on – and let Katniss and the literary creation that houses her be your guide.

Know Your Allies

The Hunger Games is about power, good versus evil, struggle, and conflict.

In any conflict, sides are drawn, and when that happens, you find yourself drawn into a world of allies and opponents. This is no different in the world of freelancing.

Alliances are hugely important to the survival of our heroine, Katniss, as she teams up with Peeta to take on their fellow participants in the Games.

This alliance leads them through a turbulent narrative, fraught with suicide pacts, capture, rebellion, revolution, and ultimately to peace and a secure family life – we hope. In the freelancing game, you too can profit from striking up an enduring relationship with your allies.

They can:
- Offer you support when you question your abilities – because there will be moments when this happens
- Direct you towards new freelance opportunities
- Save you a lot of stress by warning you of troublesome clients that you won’t want to work with
Team up with you on projects

A vital lesson from The Hunger Games is to know when your allies are no longer your allies; when they have been compromised or have joined the side of those who oppose you.

This won’t be as black and white as Katniss discovering Peeta’s involuntary defection to Snow and his brutal minions. Your allies may defect by taking work from you, or failing to keep promises to you when teaming up on a project, leaving you to deal with an irate client.

But as much as you may run the risk of defection or disappointment, remember that it’s important to build a support network of trusted allies who will keep you from staying inside and crawling the walls.
 

via GIPHY

Choose Your Weapon Wisely

You know Katniss has a weapon, I know Katniss has a weapon, the world knows Katniss has a weapon: it’s a bow and arrow. You too have a weapon.

Remember that as a freelancer you are a product, a service, a commodity. Your work as a freelancer is the thing that puts crunchy nut cornflakes in your bowl every morning.

But just as Katniss was not the only person to participate in the Games, you are not the only freelancer who is seeking a full bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes. The lesson to take here is that Katniss doesn’t just have a weapon, she has a niche – something that she excels at over her peers and which makes her special. It’s her specialism and expertise that truly makes her unique.

As a freelancer, you too need to have a niche. This means you must find the aspect of your writing (or designing, developing, etc.) that separates you from the crowd of freelancers offering their services to clients (your potential clients). One way to do this is to specialize, but you may also want to offer ‘over and above’ service and content bundles that make you so much than ‘just a freelancer’. If you can become central to someone’s business operation, you’re likely to gain a client for life.

Are you a.... specialist in the workings of call centers? So, you’ll need to know the difference between inbound and outbound call centres; and what AHT means and why it’s important — and that’s just the beginning! Keep learning about your area of expertise by going to relevant conferences, subscribing to blogs etc. There is niche content out there for everyone. Struggling to find it? Create your own!

If you work with a lot of commercial clients as a sales copywriter, then you may also want to get to grips with the uploading, styling, and updating existing web copy and content. By taking on the role of a hybrid full-stack writer, you’ll be able to provide more value, and command higher fees. (Same goes for designers and developers — get to grips with marketing and writing). Here, a specialism within an industry may give you further leverage — like becoming the go-to conversion rate optimizer for Shopify stores, or an email marketing wizard for WordPress. The important thing is that you find your niche, hone it, drill it, and make yourself into the product that people turn to when they want a freelance writer in your niche area – Katniss found her niche and look where it got her.
 

via GIPHY

Don’t Be Intimidated

Snow is a terrifying individual: cold, precise, unshakeable, inhumane.

With these cheery characteristics, it makes sense that Katniss would be intimidated by him. But she isn’t. She faces him, belligerently, intelligently, and with her eyes on the end goal: freedom.

You too will find yourself in situations that would intimidate any sane, rational individual. Not you, though.

Draw a list, be it physical or mental, of the goals you want to achieve with each project, brief, and client relationship, and then assess whether there is a path to achieving them. If you find that there is, then excellent. Begin your work and approach it with belligerence, intelligence, and diligence.

If you find there is no path to achieving your goals then don’t beat yourself up. Let your client know and then move on.

Of course, one of the other things that might intimidate you is asking for payment of a brief you’ve completed, especially if it’s overdue – Katniss had an end goal and you do too: to be the best freelancer that you can be. You can’t be this if you aren’t paid.

Keep your focus and map out a route to achieving your goal of payment. If it is not possible to map a route out, ask yourself whether what is more important: “being paid for this brief or retaining your client”?

If it’s payment then stick to your principles and maintain that you want full payment at the agreed rate. If it’s your client then suggest a reduced rate.

Intimidation is the state of feeling powerless to achieve something that you believe to be possible, or that you have been told is possible. Don’t be held hostage by the impossible, focus only the goals you can achieve and then make them a reality.

Things all turned out pretty well for Katniss in The Hunger Games: she downed Snow, and sacked the capital. She got rid of her foes, retained her closest ally and gained a life of serenity. Serenity is precisely what you deserve as a freelancer.

By following The Hunger Games’ Three Point Guide to Freelancing, you’ll have the advice you need to make sure that your work as a freelancer gives you the life you deserve: on of serenity.
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