Freelancing can be tough. It can feel lonely and at times you will feel overworked, so what do you do? You get better. Become a better freelancer and learn to manage your workload more successfully. Here are three of the most important points, learned from experience, to get you started:
Saying no can be difficult as a freelancer. It might seem as though your livelihood depends on you saying yes to every job that comes calling; that way people will be happier with you and it gives you a better chance of being referred for further work. You don’t want to disappoint anyone, but you can’t afford to bury yourself under a horrendous workload!
Let’s just get one thing out in the open: you will always disappoint someone. For some people that fact is obvious, for others it can be a little harder to take. You might be unavailable for a client because of work on other projects, unable to see your family because of this or that job, or you might not be able to take on a project because of a lot of current commitments (personal and work related). You need to learn that it is okay to say no to some projects. Your availability and mental health won’t allow you to do everything at once, so stop trying to.
If you take every job that comes your way, by the time the perfect job finds its way to you, you will be too stressed, overworked, and exhausted to take it on. Always keep a little bit of time to one side, whether it is in case projects overrun, or just to have some time to yourself.
Be better to yourself
It might not sound like the perfect way to be a better freelancer, but being a little better to yourself will bring big benefits to your work! If nothing else, ask yourself why you are doing all of this. If you ask the ‘why’ question enough times, it usually gets back to either ‘to make me/my family happier’ or ‘to make a difference’. Well guess what, you won’t do either of them if you’ve worked yourself into the ground.
Give yourself time to take a break (regularly!) and try to speak to other people in your situation. The freelance community I growing and growing, you’re not in this alone just because you’re going solo and not ‘part of a team’. Talking to people who share your problems, your dislikes, and your worries will help put your mind at ease about some of them.
Don’t isolate yourself
As said previously (but it is definitely worth emphasizing!) being a freelancer doesn’t make you alone. You are part of an ever-growing community, so let yourself enjoy and appreciate this. Meet-up with other freelancers at networking events, work alongside likeminded people in collaborative co-working spaces. You don’t need to do this all of the time, but try to make sure you do it some of the time. Connecting regularly with people who face the same challenges as you will help you feel a little more human and a little more in control of your working world – you’re not facing these problems alone. Not only that, you are also bound to come across freelancers who have previously faced and overcome the problems that you’re currently struggling with; this shouldn’t be the only reason you are meeting up with them, but learning a few more tricks of the trade is another great benefit!