Ever since hitting my 30’s I’ve had a physical reaction to not standing in my truth. These reactions can be anything from a tightening sensation in my chest to having very passionate monologues in my bathroom mirror.
But in six months of full-time freelancing, I’ve come to find that not being active in my truth will not only waste my time but also a slew of other things that can pile up, leaving one in the horrible position of possibly contemplating going back to dreaded Corporate America.
But I’ll be fucking damned.
If you read How To Leave Your 9 to 5 For the Freelance Life then you know that even with all the preparation in the world, sometimes you simply will just have to do shit you don’t want to do. The first six months of working for myself proved to be a transformative time as I set up systems to make my life easier while simultaneously trying to get more jobs, work on my personal projects and of course, survive. And just when I was getting my bearings…inflation hit.
And I’m having the time of my life!
Sounds crazy? Well, another thing I learned while working for myself is that you kind of have to be a little crazy. Despite the fact that the world is on fire, crying at least twice a week, and prices being at an all time high, this time more than any has shown me that everything is fucking made up so we might as well do exactly what the hell we want. Within reason, of course…whatever reason looks like to you. And despite everything happening, I still believe that this is the smartest decision I’ve ever made.
Working for myself has taught me to think outside the box and that solutions are everywhere. It just takes some tweaking of the mind. I learned how to read in between those lines and nip things in the bud before they overtook my precious free time. I also got to choose my clientele and take on jobs that I’m actually passionate about. As each month has passed, I’ve seen my income steadily increase which only fuels my drive. I don’t really have bad days anymore either. You can’t afford (many of) them when you start this journey. I have what I like to call “I’ll try again tomorrow” days.
This lifestyle is certainly not without its trials but choosing myself and getting to know the Lo behind the years of working for others has been one of the most rewarding experiences and I can’t wait to keep learning more about myself and how I do (or don’t) fit into this wacky world.
So here’s what I learned in six months of freelancing.
- Time Is Money…Literally
If you haven’t yet, you’ll quickly discover that time is money in freelance. For every hour that you’re working on one project, another isn’t getting that attention and/or it’s taking time from looking for other work. So it’s important to properly charge so that your time and efforts weigh in evenly. This will vary depending on the services you’re offering but if you’re looking for where to start try checking out what others are charging for the same services on freelance websites like Fiverr and Upwork.
Setting up smart financial procedures will make it easier to not only get paid on time but also to keep your taxes in order for when that time rolls around. This article from WAVE offers good insight for how to start charging freelance clients based on your time and efforts.
Freelance Tip: And if you don’t use WAVE financial…you should really start. Talk about the easiest way to keep track of your finances and invoicing is a snap!
- Contracts Come First
I REPEAT: CONTRACTS. COME. FIRST. And I don’t mean verbal contracts, either. Depending on how you gain your clientele – say, working with family and friends—which is not always advised depending on what you do–you may feel inclined to give breaks with things in the beginning of a project. Things like giving free advice or doing what you think is “quick” research can add up and make you resent your client, work, and yourself.
Creating a well-fleshed out on-boarding plan for how you handle your business may seem daunting at first but there are plenty of assets out there on how to write a freelance contract.
Freelance Tip: If you have multiple freelance gigs, have an email template and needed assets (links, pictures, etc.) set aside in their own folder so that when you see a job you want all of your information is in one area and applying to jobs is quick and easy.
- Your Attitude Matters
While I believe that having a support system makes you stronger, there is nothing like having your own back and you will need to have it in this game. There’s no time for long self-pity parties when you’re running your own business (this is why making time for mindfulness everyday is so important). What made the party hours less of a challenge was knowing I know how to do multiple things and that even if I didn’t, I AM capable. You’re going to get battered a bit because that’s the nature of learning anything new—toddlers fall down as they’re learning to walk don’t they?
Remember, you’re new at this and learning every day what works for you. What’s important is developing a daily healthy routine for yourself and your work so that when the inevitable crappy times come you bounce back faster and hopefully one day, are not even phased.
- Trial and Error is Inevitable
There’s a reason why I took a break from writing after the first quarter of the year and that’s thanks to good ‘ole trial and error. In my first six months I focused on the jobs that I already knew how to do while I figured out how I wanted my life and workflow to look. I didn’t want to stop writing but when you’re trying to figure out what works while also having everything else in life thrown at you, falling off or slowing down is normal. Try not to beat yourself up about what you haven’t done and instead get excited for the things that are yet to come.
A personal tip? Start learning to enjoy the process for everything because most circumstances in life are rarely ever about the destination and always about the journey.
- The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease
This is a big one I highly believe in. Closed mouths don’t get fed. No matter what you need help with, a quick Google search or simply asking someone will always do more than nothing at all. It can be hard to ask for help but in this job, it’s your quickest way to getting what you need and want. Freelancer resources are everywhere from online groups to establishments like your local rec center or coffee shop. And as much as we all dread social media, don’t be afraid to put it out there on the Face of Books (Facebook) and Instagram. You never know who knows who.
Freelance Tip: Join the Freelancers Union! Thank me later.
6. You Can’t Pick and Choose Where Abundance Comes From
My dear friend, soul sister and business partner gave me a super real pep talk when I was worried about money coming in. I was so focused on sticking to a few niches (which you should eventually) to make money but it just wasn’t bringing in the moolah at first. Well, it was time to get creative! Working for yourself means that all those interesting and niche hobbies you’ve had for years can be monetized. Do you like sewing? Create an Etsy shop and offer your services. Good at balancing financial books? There’s plenty of small businesses looking for bookkeepers. The more creative I got with what I could already do, the more jobs I wanted started rolling in.
It’s safe to say that this has been a rollercoaster of an adventure so far but to say I feel blessed is an understatement. In the past six months I’ve learned more about myself than I ever did in school and have gained so much self-value and understanding. I don’t remember who said “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better,” but they were absolutely correct and I’m looking forward to seeing how much better I get over the next six months.