One year into freelancing I had a little think about what I have learnt. Here’s my 10 freelancer tips and some of them may seem a bit daft, but they are in fact all-too real.
10 freelancer tips after one year of freelancing
1. Get dressed. Because no, it is not cute.
So many times I read about freelancers working in their PJs, and then people would also ask me, “do you just stay in bed and work?” And ohh, how I would revel in telling them that “yes, some days I don’t even get dressed!” However, on those days you will find this is the day when the postman / delivery person will knock at your door to take delivery for a neighbour’s parcel – as you are now the only person in the street at home in the day. You may also find that said neighbour will then knock to collect their parcel the next day. Just get dressed. You’ll feel much more human and connected with the normal world when you do. This goes for things like makeup and washing hair too. Honestly I’ve been that bad before.
2. Overcome the daily struggle with the non-work life.
Working from home is great, but it’s also a problem. My daily distractions are normally dog-related (I have two frenchies). So I will be typing / reading and then all of a sudden I find myself shouting “don’t chew my camera lead!” or “stop humping each other!” As you can imagine this quickly can disrupt one’s creative flow. If it’s possible, try setting up your work area away from distractions. Then there’s just plain procrastination to deal with. I often find myself shocked at the time I’m starting work but then I realise I have spent an hour cleaning and tidying the room so that I feel zen to concentrate. Make lots of lists. This helps focus your day and you get a bit of everything done. After all, you don’t want a new client prospect calling you with your arms full of washing and your frenchie snorting like a pig in the background.
3. Do something WILD in the middle of the day.
This may sound contradictory to the above point, but here I mean doing something that’s planned and beneficial. You should take the opportunity to enjoy your freedom, otherwise you may as well go back to full-time employment. You now have the power to control your working hours so stick something random that you enjoy right in the middle of the day. It will keep you sane. For example, going to the gym when it’s quiet. This is something people who work in offices can only dream of. Go on, hit the gym at 11am or 2pm. Like I said, WILD.
4. Find a local cafe. Don’t take the piss.
This is something I still actually need to do. But it is also something that I know I will really benefit from to stop me from becoming ‘crazy dog lady with no friends’. I’m going to chose one day a week where I work for an hour or two from a cafe. I will likely just do some of my own social media updates – i.e. not something that is right on deadline for a really important client. I put ‘don’t take the piss’ because it’s important to remember the cafe owner is trying to run a business too. So don’t sit there all day, order a tea and plug every electronic device you own into their sockets. If you have client meetings, maybe suggest you meet there. This shows willing with your new cafe owner friend and that you’re a benefit of a customer, not a nuisance.
Maybe order more than a tea.
5. Promote yourself. Networking aint easy.
Building up your connections takes time. Start promoting yourself with a blog, social media presence and networking regularly before you quit your full time job (and actually take on freelancing work before you quit!) Then, even when you are freelance and have a decent client base you will still need to promote yourself like you’re Kylie Jenner. Don’t be shy, put yourself out there. You are now the face of your business and you aren’t going to grow your business unless you are constantly connecting with new people and making a lasting (and positive, hopefully) impression.
6. Get a kick out of saying ‘no’. In a non-sadistic way.
OK, so when you first start out the urge to say ‘yes’ to anything and everything is strong. On the flip side, if you need to earn more money, then it’s understandable. The solution is to find a way to make this work for you. Be clear on what your services are and how you create value for your clients. Make sure your client is also clear on this before agreeing to work with them. Then, if it still doesn’t feel right, it is OK to say ‘no’. Be proud of yourself for turning down a job that isn’t right for you. You should be developing a specialism and a brand. Try and still be helpful though; this client may have a job in the future that is perfect for you, so put them in touch with someone you think could be better placed to help them.
7. Make friends and ask questions. You don’t know everything. If anything at times.
This may sound harsh but I have a tendency to want to do everything myself – hence: ‘freelance’. However, I have recently come to accept that I simply do not have all the answers. Plus, freelancing can be down right scary at times when you’re struggling with a job. Join Facebook groups with other like-minded people; I’m a member of regional blogger and PR Facebook groups, which are filled with kind people going through the same thing daily! You should also not feel scared about reaching out to people you used to work with if you just want some friendly advice. Just think, if it was the other way round I know I would be more than happy to help one of my former colleagues or friends if they came to me with a question. If they don’t want to help you, then maybe stop being friends with that weirdo.
8. Be a pro.
Here we have the seemingly boring crap; written agreement, spreadsheet with your income and outgoings, receipts. All that jazz. You’ll be thankful for it when you come to doing your annual return, or when a client is late paying you. You will also feel like one of those really cool businessy people that knows what they’re doing / has had screwed on. Even when you mostly don’t. But if you can get your business admin down you are winning half the battle.
9. Keep learning.
When you go from working in an office surrounded by talented people with different career backgrounds and years of varied industry experience, to then working with two frenchies that know how to fart, sleep and eat really well, you realise how much knowledge you used to absorb on a daily basis. It’s now up to you to keep learning and absorbing knowledge and new skills in your chosen field. Using your hard earned freelancer cash is always well-spent in Boots or ASOS (my vice), but it is also well-spent when you reinvest it in a training course. I took a creative writing course last year (read my course review here) and I’m planning another one for this year. Whenever I hear of training I’m noting it down, I’m subscribing to online tutorials and I’m reading successful copywriter’s blog articles. The biggest fail as a freelancer is to stay still too long. Keep learning!
Floyd is needy during work hours.
10. Have confidence.
One of your best USPs for selling your services as a freelancer is believing in yourself. When you quit your job, you quickly realise that you kind of have no choice but to believe in you – it’s one of those ‘sink or swim’ situations. When you get your first payment and you realise you did it all by yourself, and that someone out there is actually willing to pay for your work – that feels pretty good. Really good in fact. If you have a tough time, try and remember the time when it was good and motivate yourself to keep going and be proud of your self-confidence!
What lessons have you learnt as a freelancer? Do you have any unusual freelancer tips? There are so many tips and advice articles out there, you definitely don’t need to feel like you are working alone!
If you are thinking of going freelance, then read this article I wrote around the time I was making the decision myself. I was on a holiday and considering my life goals and I started asking myself some questions… read ‘Break Away‘ here.