There’s plenty of advice out there for freelancers, but some of the best and most inspiring comes from TED.

    The annual TED conferences and the associated TEDx conferences held around the world give experts, creative thinkers, and leaders a chance to reveal the cutting edge techniques, connections, and strategies that are changing the worlds of technology, business, and redefining the daily lives of millions around the world.

    Distributed on the TED website as well as others channel including an official podcast and a YouTube channel, and shared by millions more people who find the content engaging and can’t wait to inform others, TED videos offer short, sharp insights that can inspire, deliver smiles or bring on tears, and stimulate minds on topics from art to zoology.

    For freelance marketers the TED website is a treasure trove of advice and inspiration, and we’ve gathered ten of the best TED talks on and about marketing, the creative process, and the freelance lifestyle below.


    To Cut Through the Noise, First Understand Your Audience

    Amy Lockwood has a tough gig: she is trying to market condoms in the Congo, a country wracked by HIV and few regular condom users. How do you market a product that no one seems to want? You start by figuring out who your audience is, what they want, and market to the reality instead of the assumption.

    Asking Customers What They Want? Stop.

    Author Malcolm Gladwell explains why asking people what they want isn’t necessarily the best way to find out what is going to succeed in a market. Whether it’s coffee, spaghetti sauce, or cola, there may be things that customers desire but are too afraid – or lack the vocabulary – to put into words.

    A Good Idea is Not Enough

    Marketing guru Seth Godin explains that having a good idea is not enough to guarantee success. Instead, you need an idea that will spread – and it doesn’t necessarily need to be great. Indeed, a bad or a bizarre idea can succeed where a great one fails. Why? Because it can spread more easily and successfully to others.

    Laws of Nature (And Marketing)

    Does marketing follow the laws of nature? Is there any cross-over between marketing and physics? According to Dan Cobley, the answer to both questions is probably ‘yes’. Listen to him show how marketers can apply Newton’s Laws of Motion and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle when creating their campaigns.


    Thinking Big When Starting Out

    Carne Ross started as a freelancer in much the same way that others have: his big firm wasn’t rewarding so he went independent and carved out a niche for himself. The twist? He’s a freelance diplomat, representing small countries and even unrecognized countries. His story should inspire any freelancer wondering if they are thinking big enough in their first months all alone.

    Get Some Sleep

    When your next paycheck is a function of getting the work done, and when taking on more work means a better chance of paying this month’s bills, sleep can sometimes run a poor second to work for freelancers. Arianna Huffington explains why sleep is important and why even the busiest freelancers need sufficient shut eye.

    Manage That Stress

    Being a freelancer is a stressful life – of that you can be sure. Managing that stress might involve caffeine or even something a little stronger, but Kelly McGonigal has a better and more elegant solution. Watch her insights into stress management and you might not only solve your problems with stress, but live longer, too.


    Find Your Creativity Again

    Freelancing throws up all sorts of problems, not least the need to be creative almost every day in order to complete today’s contract and win the next one. When roadblocks emerge, Shimpei Takahashi offers a simple and fun way to find your way back to creativity. It’s the sole TED talk here in a language other than English, but the subtitles are hard-coded.

    Overcome Roadblocks with Toast

    Tom Wujec explains that getting past a problem can be as simple as explaining how toast is made. No, really. Once you understand the systems that people use to describe problems, and once you have someone explain what is important to solving problems in their mind, you’ll be able to help them – and yourself.

    Permission to Invent

    Erin McKean is the person responsible for putting words in the dictionary and, in this video, she gives you explicit permission to invent new words. What’s more, she explains the processes and strategies that any creative marketing professional can use to invent those new words. Next time your contract calls for something new, why not give the client something that no one has ever seen before: a new word!

    Do you have a favorite TED talk? Been inspired by a TED speaker? Let us know what we missed in comments below!



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