This is mostly written for myself, but can benefit a great deal of people I’m sure. I’m at a crossroads right now with being an independent business owner working in digital publishing and social media. I spend too much time working to find clients or justifying my value to them (no, I will not take a 40 hour a month project for $250) than actually doing meaningful proactive work for clients. At least that is how it feels lately.

There seems to be a growing stigma that independent consultants do not have “what it takes” – or they would have been gobbled up by a large company by now. Unless you are some super famous A-Lister blogger in the industry. They apparently get paid $30,000 to write a strategy ’email’. I spend my time working and finding work, not always blogging (I know… “write more”). While I should be working at an agency heading up a social team, I’ve been trying to keep working on my own. I’ve been told working at another person’s company is just trading in one set of opportunities (and headaches) for another. I agree… pick your poison I suppose.

These are the ideas and mantras I have been screaming in my own head. Maybe they will help kick you in the pants too…

  • Under-confidence is deadly. Know what you are so brilliant at you no one else can touch you. Know what you are capable of that has benefit to others. Know the difference. There is no reason on Earth I shouldn’t be working at a Philly / NYC agency heading up a social team. While other people I know are exceptional at what they do – community management, digital sales, recruitment, “biz dev” – it is NOT what I do nor do I want to do it. Why stifle my passion for what I’m really good at just to shove me in a position I’ll be good at but won’t be happy at? Have the confidence to know what you want, and how much you’re worth on a paycheck.
  • Do not settle for whatever work trickles down to you. You professional value is worth more than the crumbs others let fall your way. Know your value and your worth and accept nothing less. Doing what we love and being paid (well) to do what we love are not even in the same discussion. Unless your family is starving, don’t accept work well under your worth or abilities just to have something on the books. If you are working your way up the ranks, then you should accept work and projects accordingly. If you are brilliant, don’t accept average.
  • Call bullshit when you need to. I see so many things going on in social media channels that are complete bunk, but it doesn’t change. It doesn’t evolve. It doesn’t move the needle. People don’t even know they aren’t being productive. I call BS on all the shoddy work I see going on that I know I could do better brilliantly.
  • Don’t look down. Do not compare yourself to others that only wish to take short cuts and be where you are (or where you are going) without putting in the hard work first. Do not compare yourself to others that have achieved more than you, chances are they put in more work behind the scenes. Their success in no way detracts from your success.
  • Do not accept how others perceive you. Create your own image and look it straight in the eye. Own it. Believe it. Be it. For some reason I’m labeled either as a “mom blogger” (I don’t blog about my kids) or as an “influencer”. Granted, that second label is flattering but it doesn’t pay very well at all. I’m not the person to go to when you need someone to shill your baby bottle warmer online. I am a professional that creates and deploys kick ass strategic and tactical social initiatives that break molds, get attention, lives and breathes the online ecosystem and makes money.

I’m not 100% sold on the fact I should be trading in my 43 hats I wear as an independent consultant to wear someone else’s hats. Maybe some amazing client will come my way that sees my experience and unique knowledge worth more than minimum wage (my head still hurts from banging it on my desk over that one). In the meantime I’m going to get a bigger net and cast a longer line.

You hiring a digital strategist? Contact me… 😉