I went freelance at the beginning of 2017. No planning, no saving three month’s income just in case things went wrong, just…full steam ahead into the world of self-employment. And while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend jumping in feet first and going freelance without a back-up plan, three months on I’m doing better than I thought I would be. So I guess that’s something?
But boy has it been one hell of a learning curve. Not so much in the work I’m doing; 90% of the time I’m confident in my abilities to pitch clients and do the work that needs to be done. But, as with any major life change, there are definitely a few things I’ve learnt.
Going Freelance – What I’ve Learnt So Far
1. You’re Not Going To Feel Like A #Girlboss All The Time
Some days I’ve woken up feeling like a total #girlboss. Full of motivation, self-confidence, and the knowledge that I can succeed because I’m smart and capable. Other times I’ve wondered if I can actually do this, and the self-doubt has eaten away at me for days. I think it’s important to acknowledge those feelings, though, and try not to let it get you down. And, usually, once I’ve ticked a few things off my to-do list or got some positive feedback from a client, I’m back to feeling like my usual self again.
2. You Need A Support Network
One benefit of regular employment is that you actually get to speak to other people on a daily basis. I’ve spent years blogging on my own in various places around the world, and when I lived in London I worked from home quite a bit, so it was kind of a surprise when I realised that I sometimes missed the social aspect of office work.
I’ve made a conscious effort to work in coffee shops or make sure I’m catching up with friends in the evening In a bid to stop myself turning into a hermit . But what I’ve also found I need is a support network of other freelancers and self-employed friends to chat to either throughout the day or to catch up with on the phone in the morning so we *both* feel like we’ve got our shit together.
Having a proper support network is also great for collaboration, passing on work when you’re super busy – I’ve definitely found work this way. Plus, it’s nice to know someone else understands that sometimes you’re *this* close to chatting to the aloe vera plant on your desk and need to hear a human voice.
3. Routine Is Key
I could suddenly make my own hours when I went freelance, and in the first couple of weeks I definitely treated myself to a fair few lie-ins. But there was something about those lazy mornings that made me feel a bit like I didn’t have my shit together.
It’s all well and good getting up late, but it normally means you end up working into the evening. That isn’t healthy. Everyone needs time out.
Now, I try to be at my desk by at least 9:30, have a proper break for lunch, then finish up at about 6pm or 7pm. Sometimes, if I’m up against a deadline, I work later and I try not to work at weekends unless I have to. The flexibility is probably one of the things I like the most about working for myself, but, for me, getting shit done means getting into a routine.
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4. Money Worries? You Need To Get Organised
This one was particularly hard for me. I’ve never been very good at managing my own money. After receiving a regular paycheck for so long, changing my mindset was scary.
Suddenly being responsible for tracking my income and expenses was overwhelming, so I set up a few spreadsheets that I update weekly. I wouldn’t say I’m totally comfortable with this part of freelancing yet, but I’m hoping that it will pay off in the long-run.
5. There’s No Shame In Diversifying Your Income
While I’m ticking along nicely working for myself, I’m also under no illusion that at some point I might need to top up my funds with cafe or bar work. Both of which I’ve done before.
I think there’s way too much focus on finding a “career job”. I have friends who freelance around part time work and they’ve often told me how sick they are of family members asking when they’re going to get a “proper job”.
Newsflash: ANYTHING THAT ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE MONEY IS A PROPER JOB.
So if I need to go do that, I will. There’s no shame in diversifying your income.
I’d planned on going freelance in the future but when my circumstances changed it just felt right, to be honest. Sure, I didn’t have anything figured out (which was kind of scary) but sometimes you just need to do it. Start. MAKE A DECISION AND RUN WITH IT.
So far it seems to be going well. And if I keep working hard and hustling, and making sure I’m always doing my best work, I’m hoping I can make going freelance one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Fingers crossed.
p.s. find more about my freelance services, including digital PR and social media management, here.