Freelancing is a very trending thing these days but what exactly is hiding under this oh so glamorous way of working? It’s never as easy as it might seem. And, just like in any kind of profession, there are some things you can’t even imagine before getting into it. So here are 10 things you should know about freelancing!
Where the hell did I get all of this from, you might ask? From my own freelancing experience, from my fellow freelancers, from experiences I’ve seen and read online, from questions and complaints I’ve heard from my clients or others who are randomly interested in freelancing. Let’s get it started!
10 important things to know about freelancing
#1: Success takes time
Besides that, it takes not only time but also your nerves. We all have to start somewhere! And it’s crucial to understand it before you begin your journey of being a freelancer.
- If you have a day job – don’t quit it just yet!
- If you’re planning to travel – wait for a second to get the projects rolling in.
- “Giving all in”, for example, selling everything, going to Thailand and starting your business there, is a big risk. It can be an incredible success or a terrifying struggle.
- Ease into the business first, understand your route and, at least, feel the smell of success before throwing the rest out of the window.
Because success DOES take time. And, very often, this time is a tiny bit longer than you expected it to be. I’m definitely saying that this is one of the most important things to know about freelancing.
#2: You’ll always have something more to learn
While “Jack of all trades, master of none” is a very true statement, being a freelancer very often means being a master of many trades all at once. Don’t rush into things when starting but be prepared to learn on a daily basis. The first step is to understand what’s crucial for you and your business. Here are some things to consider:
- Time & project management
- Writing: proposals, blog posts, (e-mail)
- Accounting, for example, how to pay your own taxes and survive on a small income at first? What are the things you can write off as a freelancer?
- Specifics of your chosen niche. For example, I started as a graphic designer but later down the road I realized that learning the specifics of web design would be very crucial for my further career. Along with that came things like basic HTML & CSS knowledge. And so on.
#3: Goal setting is crucial
I hate goal setting. Why? Because I don’t know what I’ll want to do with my life within a week, within a year or ten years. The heck, I don’t even know what I’ll be eating for lunch within an hour… But to set your goals, you have to envision your future. And freelancing has taught me that goal setting IS crucial.
You can’t achieve great success unless you set goals day by day, week by week. As I previously said, success takes time. But it does take even more of your time if you’re not ready to set your goals.
Working without goals is easy. You get done what you get done. But that’s definitely not the highway to success. It is a road to burnout, misery and bad working habits. So start working on your goal setting even before getting into freelancing.
Related article: Planning summer: 90-day goals
#4: Loneliness is a thing – be prepared
While there are many perks of being a freelancer, for example, you can work all on your own and don’t work in an office environment, at some point it can be a pain in the arse. I’m an extrovert so I feel this a big time – I MISS PEOPLE AROUND ME!!
One of the things to know about freelancing is how lonely it really can be. Even if you try your best to avoid it.
Even if I’m working in coffee shops or coworking spaces, I generally miss people with who I can share my work related things. I do have a boyfriend who’s also a freelancer. I also have several friends in the same or similar fields as mine but it’s never the same as having actual coworkers around you. Especially when it’s wintertime and you don’t want to get out at all. It really gets lonely! And that’s something you need to prepare for.
Even if you’re an introvert and loneliness is like a hobby of yours, sometimes it can be too much. So try to socialize online, in Facebook groups or even on Twitter, hop on Skype chats with your clients, meet your clients in real life, gather around friends who are freelancers as well.
#5: Self-discipline should be your new hobby
Without self-discipline, nothing will get done. Let me say it one more time. Without self-discipline, NOTHING will get done. And I mean it! It is crazy easy to just “take a break” all day long. It is even easier to postpone all of your to-do list from day to day.
Self-discipline is crucial not only to get things done but also do get done more than necessary. Remember, you’ll have to learn new things every day! As long as you have a willingness and motivation to get it done, you’ll be fine. But if you don’t have a set schedule or at least waking up time, you might face some challenges.
My best tip for you: be accountable to yourself from the very beginning. Find what suits you the best: do bullet journaling or plan your week ahead. Use post-it notes to keep your to-do list active or find any other method that will make you more disciplined and motivated. It’s crucial for your career!
#6: Learn to keep your life in balance
Freelancing is addictive. When you’re into something with all your heart, you really want to do the best and do it more. Which is one of the main reasons why your life may experience a crazy disbalance. It’s always important to spend some time alone, doing nothing, to have some additional hobbies besides work (that’s something I’m trying to convince myself of), it’s crucial to meet your friends and family on a weekly or at least a monthly basis.
When you don’t have normal office hours, working until it’s dark outside is easy. New projects come along, additional e-mails are always rolling in, tweets and Facebook posts to answer… There’s always something more to do! So keep yourself accountable not only for work but also for some leisure time. In the long run, it’ll be useful for your business as well since it’ll keep you sane.
Related article: How to fight online fatigue
#7: You’ll get nowhere without communication skills
Great communication is a must! To get new clients, communicate with your partners and build your business, you will need some basic understanding of e-mail etiquette, ability to hop on a phone call or Skype chat, understanding of different ways of communication.
No one is perfect tho! Some people prefer e-mails while others enjoy Skype chats and it’s totally fine. It’s important to understand that you’re doing business online now so anything you write or say can be used “against” you. Therefore it’s also important to think about your communication outside the kind of formal field. For example, social media!
#8: Working from home
Besides already mentioned facts of loneliness and accountability, working from home brings several other challenges. For the sake of honesty, I need to say that it’ll be not only challenging but also beneficial if you use your working from home as good as you can. Anyhow, here are some things to beware of:
Having a working place very close to the kitchen is a health threat for you since you might overeat big time. How to avoid this? First of all, try to have a workspace as far from your kitchen as possible. Literally. Even if it’s just a room apart, it’ll be better than actual work in the kitchen. In case the kitchen is your only choice, make sure to put all the unhealthy snacks away from your view and leave only healthy options on the table/nearby. Other than that, try to follow an actual meal plan or just stick with regular meals and eat snacks outside the house (additional cardio!).
Lack of commute might be a big reason for you to be even lazier than you might have been already. If your gym is not on your way home from work, it’s easier to stay home than go out. If your partner is coming home through the supermarket, it’s easier to ask for him/her to purchase all the necessary things than move yourself.
Laziness is a biggy! And you should make sure to get some daily activity. Whether it’s morning yoga and walk to the shop, evening run or gym, make sure there is some movement in your daily life! You can also combine moving with having fun: go for a bicycle ride with your friends, roller skate, swim, snowboard, whatever rocks your boat! But, for starters, take a walk in the lunchtime, go for a further coffee break or use walking instead of taking a car to the shop (yes, even if that means lifting heavy stuff).
Whether you have kids, dog or TV, there are tons of things that might distract you on a daily basis. How to deal with distractions?! First of all, try to eliminate them as much as possible. Close the doors, move to another room, go work outside the house after all. Separate your workplace from the rest of the house. Set some ground rules for your family. Set your working hours and don’t let anyone interrupt you. Don’t try to multitask, for example, answer e-mails while watching your favorite soap opera…
Related article: Staying healthy while working from home
#9: “So what do you really do?!“
Yes, here’s a question you’ll be hearing on a daily basis from now on. What’s the most terrifying part – it’ll be asked by those the closest to you. Your family, friends and everyone else on your way. So what do you really do?! Freelancing? Is that a part-time? Do you get paid? So you don’t have a job, huh? No stability? Who’s paying your bills? Are you living with your parents?
I’ve started to use “graphic designer” without that “freelance” part to answer a question about what I do so I just skip several additional questions. After all, they are a lost cause already. Unless you’re up for making a PowerPoint presentation for everyone you know and ACTUALLY explaining what the hell that freelancing is.
#10 It’s never easy
Although this is the tenth, it also could be the only one of the most important things to know about freelancing. You might be new to freelancing or a long-time pro, it’s never really easy! Being a freelancer takes a lot of patience and dedication, planning and, after all, working! You always have to strive for more new jobs, for better pay rate, for bigger projects and better feedback. You have to deal with weird clients, give yourself a paycheck, plan your days and weeks. The only ones who think that freelancing is easy are those who haven’t tried it on their own.
Are you still up for the adventure? Amazing! Come back next week when I’ll publish yet another article you might find helpful if you’re interested in being a freelancer!