Pursuing the world of freelance can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, but the freedom to be your own boss gives you the creative freedom and independent decision making that most 9 to 5 jobs don’t offer. Hannah Kaminsky is a freelance professional who has perfected the craft of creating and managing her own business. She’s managed her blog, Bitter Sweet, for 14 years now, and it has everything from home recipes to professional photography to crochet and knitting patterns. She offers a bit of everything, and all of the content she puts out is thoughtfully curated to reflect her interests that bring her joy.
Hannah’s freelance business is inspired by her passions and centered around the things she loves most. As a vegan, she tries to work mostly with ethical and plant-based companies with similar morals. “I’ve been very lucky to have that niche and have a community looking to support freelancers that share their values.”
Kaminsky finds work on her own by browsing through magazines, Facebook, and Amazon until she comes across something that makes her say “I love this product” or “that sounds awesome, I want to hear about it!” She also finds inspiration around her home through products she uses often and wants to support on another level.
She enjoys freelance work because “it gives me so much variety and keeps me excited – every day is different and I love that.” Her favorite type of projects involve working with authors to create photos for cookbooks. She values the ability to form personal, long-term relationships with clients in this way because “You really get to know them and their style and create their voice for print… Everyone gets to enjoy more flexibility [and] creativity. It’s not just commercial photography where it’s a product on a white background – you get to create the story.”
One of the main benefits of being a freelancer is the variety. Kaminsky wears many hats, which adds value to her business because clients are able to hire a “one-woman show” rather than several people for each individual job needed.
With several social media platforms to manage, Kaminsky is well organized and plans content far in advance. “I generally have two months of posts for my blog prepared in advance, and I lay out a calendar for all my different social media [platforms]. Instagram is the one I primarily focus on, so I always make sure I have content prepared for that every day.” As for her blog, she “[tries] to keep content fresh,” and consistently posts three times a week.
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Recipes tend to drive the most traffic because people like to recreate their own experiences at home. Posts with added value, such as giveaways, a coupon, or a discount are also successful because they introduce “something that lowers the barrier for enjoying these things.”
It is difficult to target her desired audience, therefore Kaminsky does not advertise her services. “I’m not looking to reach just basic consumers. I love working one-on-one with the people that are receiving my service… I need to be able to reach brands and the people working at the brands who can make decisions.”
One of the main struggles she faces is when she comes across a mutually desired partnership, but the client does not understand appropriate budgeting for her services. “A lot of smaller brands have gotten used to bloggers booking for free or [in exchange] for products, and I’m not just a blogger. I offer professional services beyond that… and it’s just not valued.”
As a result, Kaminsky emphasizes the importance of networking in the freelance world, calling it “essential.” Despite years of college education and studying business, she has learned from her experience that only three things really matter to be a successful freelancer: your portfolio, your experience, and who you know. “I’ve known a lot of people – authors, publishers, etc. – who I’ve worked with in the past and they refer me to others… I’ve gotten a lot of work that way too.”
Another roadblock in her work is when there is a lack of organization and/or communication from the client. Such instances can lead to confusion on what the client really wants, and it might not be until halfway through the project that they realize they aren’t headed in the desired direction.
To overcome these issues, Kaminsky emphasizes one thing: communication. Whether it’s via phone calls, Zoom meetings, or emails, it’s important to make sure you and your client are on the same page for everything.
Here is a checklist of things to communicate with your client to make sure you’re on the same page:
- Create mood boards for inspiration
- Compare all of your notes with one another
- Budget the project
- Lay out a timeline
- Lay out exactly what, when, and how you’re going to things
Going over these topics will sort out any confusion, misinterpretation, or misunderstandings that can come up in the planning process.
Kaminsky’s offers two key pieces of advice for those who want to pursue freelance work.
1. Value your own abilities.
Don’t sell yourself short. “If [the client] says ‘we don’t pay people to share about our products’ or ‘we can only give you [whatever product they want to promote] to do something for us,’ don’t accept that or say ‘that’s great, I can’t wait to try your [product]’ and then ask ‘how can I help you.’” To help with this, it’s important to have price points to work from, but don’t be strict about it. You can say things like, “these are where my prices typically start, I’m happy to negotiate with you, what is your budget?” and “How can we make it work for both of us?” Kaminsky emphasizes that “even if you understand the product, even if you love the people, sometimes they are not good business partners and you need to know when to walk away.”
2. Never stop learning and never stop challenging yourself.
“If you keep doing the same thing, it gets boring and you get stagnant,” she explains. “You become complacent, your compositions start looking formulaic, and your words start sounding redundant.” The ability to take new approaches and try different things is what makes freelance work so liberating and exciting. It’s important to take risks and push your comfort zone as a way to expand your repertoire and keep your work interesting to both yourself and your clients.
Kaminsky’s long term success in the freelance industry goes to show that hard work, patience, and taking independent risks do pay off in the end. Finding the courage to kickstart your business is the first and most challenging step, but Kaminsky has proven that it is in fact possible to make a living doing what you love.
Be sure to check out all of Hannah Kaminsky’s platforms for more inspiration and freelance tips: