How to wear too many hats and live to tell the tale: freelancing and other adventures

Do you wear too many hats?

So do I.

So do many people.

Sometimes the hats are a mixture of professional and personal.

Sometimes the hats coexist harmoniously (yes that tiara *does* fit over your baseball cap)

Sometimes, we just have too many strings to our bow and the arrow has nowhere to hold on to (I’m no archer, can you guess?)

Enough mixing of metaphors, you get the gist I’m sure!

Multiple hat-wearing is something I’ve viewed at different times of my life as both a blessing and a curse. When you are naturally torn in multiple directions, it’s easy to feel envious of those that seem to have always enjoyed a healthy gravitational pull.

*Seem* is the operative word. They probably feel their trajectory looked something like this too:

For me, this worry has multiplied since going freelance, because I am free, essentially, to explore *all of those routes* should I want to, including:

  • my freelance b2b marketing career
  • my poetry career (multiple writing projects beckon)
  • my editing career
  • my organizing madcap events career
  • my teaching career
  • my academic career, which I thought I’d closed the door on, keeps popping up with opportunities from time to time

Branding

There are some important issues you need to tackle when wearing many hats. The first one is to do with how you present yourself to the world:

Error 1: wanting to tell everyone about all your hats in one go

It’s tempting, particularly when you’re pitching, to want to tell your prospect about all of your hats at once.

However:

  • Most of them are probably not relevant to them
  • You are diluting your pitch by talking about too many things.

As Aaron Orendorff recently said in a profile review: pick one message, and stick to it.

It doesn’t mean you’re abandoning the others.

Just think of yourself as a beautiful onion. Present one skin, with the other layers ready to be revealed if and when the occasion calls for it.

Too many hats? Just think of yourself as a beautiful onion: present one skin, with the other layers ready to be revealed if and when the occasion calls for it. Click To Tweet

Error 2: Don’t hide your hats either

This might sound like a contradiction to the above point but… having a unified message when presenting yourself to prospects doesn’t mean you should hide your different facets on social media.

For a long time, I was guilty of silo-ing my hats. When wearing my academic hat, I’d pretend not to be a poet. When wearing my poet hat I’d pretend not to be a marketer. And so on, and so forth.

I’ve learned to embrace these facets. They all collaborate with each other. I wouldn’t be the marketer I am, without my poetry and academic background for instance.

I’m in fact planning a podcast that explores the overlap between poetry and marketing, which will share marketing tips alongside excellent poems (watch this space!)

Sharing what makes you tick makes you human.

A business professional sharing updates about Star Wars or Strictly Come Dancing alongside their thoughts on Bitcoin and HR is immediately more relatable, than one sharing company updates without thought.

Humans buy from humans. It’s a cliché for a reason.

Humans buy from humans. It’s a cliché for a reason. Click To Tweet

Time management

Let me tell you, this last month has been amazing and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to embrace so many hats again properly. However, being in charge of my timetable again after a few years in a 9-5 has reminded me of the importance of restructuring my time. So here are the mistakes I’ve been making, so you can learn to avoid them:

Error 1: assigning projects to particular days

Sounds sensible, but as each project has multiple components, each using different parts of your brain, it’s not actually the most efficient way of doing things.

What’s useful is to break things down in terms of task, regardless of the project, these are broadly for me:

  • Research
  • Writing/Creative time
  • Email/Phone correspondence
  • Planning

So for instance, a better way of planning out a week would be something like this:

Monday AM: Research
Monday PM: Writing

Tuesday AM: Correspondence
Tuesday PM: Planning

etc.

Of course these will vary from week to week. So for instance, this afternoon I have a scheduled call, so naturally, the other work I will do this afternoon will be correspondence-related.

Error 2: don’t under-prioritize your own learning and development

I use timeblocking to assign myself time to work on my own creative projects. The problem is, since becoming a freelancer, I’ve been too quick to over-ride it in favour of a call with a client, or a meeting, or a new deadline etc.

Everyone loses from this, as personal development is crucial to every other aspect of my life.

The solution then is to be pretty draconian about these things – assign a reasonable amount of time every week to your own development, and if you have to override it, make sure you immediately reschedule it elsewhere.

Don't de-prioritise your personal development: timeblock it! Click To Tweet

TLDR

Managing your hats is not a straightforward endeavour, and it’s likely to keep evolving.

That’s ok.

 

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Claire Trevien

B2B Content Marketer
Freelance B2B Content Marketer and Multimedia Poet. If you want me to geek out, ask me about digital tools and writing prompts!

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