A life spent freelancing can be incredibly difficult, but it can also be surprisingly rewarding. Everything that follows was created by you, every success is yours alone; this can stroke your ego quite nicely. There will also be tough times, as there always are in life, but remembering a few lessons can make those times more bearable:
1. As a freelancer, think like an entrepreneur
When you first go freelance you quickly realise that you are no longer doing a single job. Becoming a freelancer will usually mean fulfilling the same role, while also being your own accountant, your CEO, and any other position going in the small business that you now are. If you think of yourself as running your own small business, rather than merely concentrating on the position you used to fill in another business, this can help you divide up your time and energy on what really matters. This can help with the balance between finding work and completing work, between meeting new people and impressing existing clients. As a freelancer you are in charge of your marketing, generating new leads, your own accounts, supporting your clients, and that’s not to mention taking charge of the direction in which you personally (and your business professionally) are growing. Each of these roles and duties will take up some amount of your time and neglecting any of them could be detrimental to you as a whole.
When looking for fresh clients and new projects, one different approach I have known a few freelancers to take is to stop looking for freelance work. This might sound odd, but it opens up a whole new market. Don’t just look for positions and companies which advertise that they are looking for a freelancer, instead look for any company or position which you think you could benefit. Then it is down to you to get in contact and tell them why you are the best fit for the position and why they should consider a freelancer like you! Let them know that it would be in their best interests to hire you!
2. Don’t expect overnight success.
When you first go freelance there is sometimes a great feeling of freedom, only to be shattered by the realisation that you are now essentially running all of the roles of your own small business. This can feel both restricting and overwhelming when you go through struggling times, but it can make life euphoric when things are going well. It helps to have a clear goal insight. Why are you going freelance? What is your motivation here? If it is a get-rich-quick scheme then you can forget about it. Sure, fulfilling every role in a small business may lead to financial gain, but only when you have the work rolling in. When you first start out be ready for some tough and testing times, but if you are doing this for a clear and strong reason, such as some form of personal development, or because of the passion you have for your work which you don’t think could be realised otherwise, then these times become more bearable.
REMEMBER: Don’t get down on yourself! Success isn’t at the end of a straight path; it isn’t simply a matter of a little work and the rewards will automatically come. There will be ditches along the way, no path to success is ever as smooth as it might seem once that summit has been conquered. It is important that when pitching for projects that you don’t take “no” to be an evaluation of your skills. These challenges can leave you feeling disappointed and dejected, but it is far healthier to treat them as an opportunity to learn rather than dwelling on them. There is a fairly cliché entrepreneurial quote which, while cliché, still rings true: ‘you have to work like hell for years in order to look like an overnight success’.
3. Don’t let yourself become isolated.
Other freelancers know the challenges you’re going through, even if they’re not working within your industry. The problems faced by people when starting out as freelancers will transcend industry-specific divisions. The struggle to fulfil multiple roles, with the lack of defined structure, and especially with finding new projects, are all battles people have fought before; speaking to other freelancers can help because they’ve been there and can offer advice and tips they’ve picked up along the way. While networking with other freelancers working within your niche can at times seem like a negative drain, this can also bear fruit. Even if it can feel like rubbing shoulders with the competition, learning about how well people are doing while you’re struggling to find your feet, having friends in a similar place to yourself can eventually help you find work. If one person’s cup is overflowing, they will happily refer others in the industry; so long as they trust you and like your work, this could be you!
If you want to meet and work alongside other freelancers, then Work.Life Flex could be exactly what you are looking for! Pay-as-you-go professional workspace from just £3.50 per hour in the heart of Camden, with a variety of events and meet-ups taking place in the space.