I've gotten a lot of questions about going freelance (how and where do you start?), so I thought I'd start post a few things I've learned along the way. This isn't foolproof, but it will at least give you some idea on what to do.
- How do you get started? The important thing is you have to start. For me I found contract work through a creative staffing agency to help build my portfolio. Sometimes I was a temp for an employee out for maternity leave, while other times I worked on a particular project for a certain amount of time. It also helped gauge my expenses and learned how much I needed to save until another project came along.
- Is this an easy thing to do? Nope. Sometimes projects end abruptly. On another hand they can extend longer than planned. The thing with freelance/contractual life is the uncertainty. Doing your best to plan accordingly is essential. Bonus, a lot of creative agencies take out taxes so you don't have to.
- Side hustle. Everyday you're hustlin? You bet! I don't know many successful freelancers who work a "normal" 40 hours a week and are successful and I don't know one who has multiple things going on. Careful: Don't completely tire yourself out--it's all about balance. I have found we don't settle for just ONE thing (unless it's a big thing). This can range from selling things online (Etsy, Society 6, etc) to online courses or more.
- Networking. I hear the groan from fellow introverts and I feel you. You have to go out THERE with PEOPLE? Yep, but it doesn't have to be your entire life. And I find ways to network in non networking situations. If I'm working outside the home, I keep my business cards with me. Something about having a tablet in public strikes conversation about what I do and they usually know someone who needs someone, etc etc. My goal is to attend more networking events because face-to-face does work/help. But introverts, rejoice! Most of my networking has been online via Twitter chats and Instagram posts. Social media is great if used the right way. Post work you're working on, use (but don't abuse) hashtags.
- Patience. The first year and a half is the hardest because you're spending more than you're getting. This is normal. You're probably going to undercharge yourself (raises both hands and feet) and you'll realize it when it's too late. The good thing is, once you realize this, you'll fix it. You're going to learn some shortcuts don't help you and set you back. You're going to learn some do. You're going to LEARN, and the key here is to have patience while learning.
- Shortcuts Kill Progress. This should be 4.5 but this is lengthy so I'm making this its own block. There are a lot of posts and promises on the Internet with something along the lines of "nabbing the right clients in half the time with these easy tips," or "You can quadruple your income half the time by following this golden rule." No, nope, naw homey, it doesn't work that way. Being your own business person means you have to you have to make sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed, and it's your business with your name on it. If you mess up, it falls on you. There are some things to keep handy to help you with your process: mockups, stock photos, productivity apps such as Evernote, Buffer App, and Slack are perfectly fine. These are great tools for every freelancer to have and use. But if you're trying to delegate certain tasks you, the business owner, should be doing, you risk the chance of major setbacks.
- This is my plea to you: get the right tools to help yourself be more productive and organized so shortcuts aren't even an option.
Working on something that talks about my own freelance journey later, but I'd love to hear about your tips/how you got started.
Until next time,