How to Successfully and Fashionably Wear Many Hats


Ready to raise hell on another year of cut-throat independence? Of course, you are! As you know, in the freelancing industry, your biggest source of firepower is yourself. So pushing your business to greater heights simply means pushing yourself to greater heights. To a huge number of us, that means it's time to... wear many hats.

Oh, you've done this before. Took on a different role outside of your life-long training to get the project running smoothly. For a couple of hours, you did an AE's job. For a few minutes, you dabbled in photoshop to help an AD. This time around, you're going to take the role reversal seriously, in several turns, AND earn from it.

Not so an easy task. Changing hats is cool if you've got the discipline for it. Take the following cues:

Don't just tell your client "I'm your Creative and I'm your Producer, too!" without having the actual guns for it. You may know an inkling about producing due to exposure, but you need to go deeper into the process to make the new hat fly. Research. Talk to real producers. Weigh your capabilities against the hard-hitting truths about this role. Be ready to assume it if you think you can. Be ready to back down if you think you can't. Respect the position.

Now that you've gathered all that's needed to, say, be an Art Director --practice. Learn. And practice some more. You don't just wake up one morning and realize you're awesome at doing layouts. This is something you should have been born with but never got to take to heart. This time, you can. For a while, until you change roles again. For now, be that AD for that project and take the privilege and responsibility seriously. If you're a trained writer and suddenly would want to change your assigned writer's work… stop. Please.

Switching is never easy. It's like when you switch channels on your TV. You don't just settle into one station without wondering if you really want to spend an entire hour of your life on this show or the one you previously left behind. When it comes to changing hats, there will be spill overs of your character changes. The key to not messing up the switch is to do the switch smoothly. Pace yourself. You can't just jump from one project to another in 2 seconds flat. Neither can you with flipping a hat. Take at least two to three hours' break between roles so you can slip into the next role without a hitch.

Let me illustrate this last cue in detail as I have experienced the hat-changing mess-up during one fairly recent busy, cold day.

Learn from this mistake, people.

That said, wearing many hats is a good tactic to use as an independent worker because it broadens your skill set and your business opportunities. Which means more moneys and better days. But wearing many hats can be tricky without the right amount of know-how, discipline, and pacing. Try it out little by little. Let it grow on you.
If you can manage to perform this tactic successfully, fashionably… then I tip my hat to you… you, go-getter, you.


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