So you want to make it big in the freelance world? In theory, it all sounds pretty idyllic. No more tyrannical bosses and 9-5 days. Instead just you, the comforts of your own home (or even the beach if the WiFi holds up!) and total flexibility to work as and when you please. But the reality can be a bit harsher than that.
Going into freelancing with the wrong mindset and flawed expectations is going to cost you. A lot. Although it’s a great lifestyle and the positives can’t really be overstated, to begin with going it alone will be tough. So you’ve got to make sure your head’s in the right place before diving in. You’ll be faced with surprising mental challenges, but we’ve got some suggestions on how to overcome them.
You might be astonished that independent living can be a bit of a nightmare to start with. When you first hand in your notice and leave your full-time job for the final time, you’ll probably be over the moon. Chained to your desk? No more! But you might be horrified to find you soon miss a few things – the routine, the regular pay-checks and to be honest, even the ease of being told what work needs doing. With freelancing, you have to be very very proactive – clients won’t come to you until you’ve built up a solid reputation. So the first few months are likely to be a haze of networking, advertising and scraping by on a bit less cash than you’re used to. You might not be getting the sort of jobs you want and although in the future it’s a good idea to be selective about what work you’ll take, at this stage you probably can’t afford that.
Our advice? Make sure you go in with a solid plan. If possible, start out with enough savings to last you for the first few months and think about how you’re going to market your services well. Building a solid social media presence and attending industry networking events are both ways you can do this. It’s all about planning, positivity and realism.
It’s been said a million times, but motivation is key. Depending on where you’ve worked before, you might be used to being given work and feeling like someone is watching your every move. The change to freelancing can actually be a bit of a shock to the system. Sure – there’s no one telling you to get off Facebook, but all of a sudden those hours wasted on social media could be time spent finding clients or working towards an important deadline. So, another important part of your freelancing toolbox is discipline. Setting your own hours doesn’t mean no hours. You might find that a 9-5 day is actually what’s necessary to get everything done!
And the final key element? The passion that drove you to freelance in the first place! There’s a reason you wanted to move into whatever creative field you’re now going to be working in and that’s the most important thing to bear in mind as you go forth into the unknown.
P.S: Clients can also be incredibly frustrating. So get ready to be patient. Very, very patient.