Life’s lessons are all around you and they can sometimes come from the most unexpected of sources. There may not be an obvious connection between the business of freelance writing and trying to become the next United States President, but there is a lot that freelancers can learn from Democratic hopeful Barack Obama. Yes, he’s heavily involved in politics and freelance writers are largely able to avoid the challenges of office politics, but there are still some general parallels for you to consider.

I’m not particularly well-versed in the world of politics — I’ll leave that to the experts to handle — but I do recognize that Barack Obama has some lessons to teach us. Let’s have a look.

Own Your Brand: Hope and Change

When many people think of Barack Obama, the first two words that come to mind are “hope” and “change.” These seemingly everyday words have now been heavily branded and they are instantly connected to the Democratic candidate. As valuable as your writing ability may be, it’s also very important to have good marketing skills if you want to succeed in your freelance career. Own your brand and stand out from the crowd.

Connect with Your Audience

To be an effective politician, you have to be a fantastic orator and a master of rhetoric. You can find your own unique voice, but you must also cater the delivery of your message to your audience. Writing a business proposal for a financial institution dictates a completely different writing style than composing a casual post for a technology news blog. Find the best way to connect with your audience and capitalize on that connection.

Nothing Wrong with Being an Elitist

Barack Obama has been accused of being an elitist, but somehow he has been able to overcome that. This has to do with the quandary of elitism, but I’d feel more comfortable with a person who is “better than me” to run the country than someone who is my peer and equal. Even though Obama is well-educated and brings a wealth of experience to the table, he’s also able to connect with the common man. It starts with self-respect and confidence. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that you are superior to someone in some way. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. The key is never to talk down to them. You must still connect with them as a peer.

Transcend Your Demographic

While the mass media keeps talking about how Barack Obama could be the first African American President of the United States, Obama has never tried to play the race card to get votes and support. By and large, he has managed to transcend race, appealing to people from all ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and walks of life. Looking for success as a freelance writer, you must also do the same. You can focus on a niche, but the wider appeal you have to a potential customer, the greater opportunities you may have.

Positive Thinking: Yes We Can

Believe in yourself and great things can happen. Draw your inspiration from wherever you can find it and absolutely believe that you can accomplish your goals. It’s the power of positive thinking. When you first start out as a freelance writer, you may face a lot of growing pains and it may be difficult to land that first client or to earn a consistent livable income. Even as your career progresses, you will inevitably face some hiccups. Fight through them, because together… YES WE CAN!

UPDATE (10/06/08): For another perspective, check out my follow-up article, What Freelancers Can Learn from John McCain. The Vietnam War vet has something to teach you young whipper-snappers.

UPDATE #2 (10/06/08): This post has been submitted to If you liked what you read, I’d greatly appreciate a Digg. Thanks in advance!