I’ve gotten a lot of questions about going freelance (how and where do you start?), so I thought I’d post a few things I’ve learned along the way. This isn’t foolproof, but it will at least give you some idea on what to do.
How do you get started?
The important thing is you have to start. For me, I found contract work through a creative staffing agency to help build my portfolio. Sometimes I was a temp for an employee out on maternity leave, while other times I worked on a particular project for a certain amount of time. It also helped gauge my expenses and learned how much I needed to save until another project came along.
Is this an easy thing to do?
Nope. Sometimes projects end abruptly. On another hand, they can extend longer than planned. The thing with freelance/contractual life is uncertainty. Doing your best to plan accordingly is essential. Bonus, a lot of creative agencies take out taxes so you don’t have to.
Every day you’re hustling? You bet! I don’t know many successful freelancers who work a “normal” 40 hours a week and are successful and I don’t know one who has multiple things going on. Careful: Don’t completely tire yourself out–it’s all about balance. I have found we don’t settle for just ONE thing (unless it’s a big thing). This can range from selling things online (Etsy, Society 6, etc) to online courses or more.
Do you have to go out THERE with PEOPLE? Yep, but it doesn’t have to be your entire life. And I find ways to network in non-networking situations. If I’m working outside the home, I keep my business cards with me. Something about having a tablet in public strikes conversation about what I do and they usually know someone who needs someone, etc etc. My goal is to attend more networking events because face-to-face does work/help. But introverts, rejoice! Most of my networking has been online via Twitter chats and Instagram posts. Social media is great if used the right way. Post work you’re working on, use (but don’t abuse) hashtags.
The first year and a half are the hardest because you’re spending more than you’re getting. This is normal. You’re probably going to undercharge yourself (raises both hands and feet) and you’ll realize it when it’s too late. The good thing is, once you realize this, you’ll fix it. You’re going to learn some shortcuts don’t help you and set you back. You’re going to learn some do. You’re going to LEARN, and the key here is to have patience while learning.
Shortcuts Kill Progress.
There are a lot of posts and promises on the Internet with something along the lines of “nabbing the right clients in half the time with these easy tips,” or “You can quadruple your income half the time by following this golden rule.”
No, nope, naw homey. It doesn’t work that way.
Being your own business person means you have to make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. If you mess up, it falls on you. Luckily, there are apps and tools that help with the process: mockups, stock photos, productivity apps such as Evernote, Buffer App, and Slack are perfectly fine. I recommend every freelancer download these now.
This is my plea to you: get the right tools to help yourself be more productive and organized so shortcuts aren’t even an option.
Until next time,