15 Tips for a Successful Freelance Career - Part 1
Freelancing - being your own boss - is basically living the dream, right? I can’t even tell you how many people said that to me when I decided to take my skills and experience and put them to good use for myself. I was on the receiving end of jokes about sleeping until 9, wearing pajamas the whole day and not “really working”.
Yeah, of course, there are some serious perks! You get complete flexibility, you get to write your own services menu and you get to decide how many projects you’ll take on, dividing up your time as you see fit. And there are some very real pitfalls.
I believe that making the decision to start a freelance career basically means you’re embarking on a journey that doesn’t end and is a whole lot of trial and error. In the spirit of sharing and creating a strong bossbabe community, I want to share some hard-learned tidbits and lessons I am still learning daily. This will be a 3 part series, with today being all about what to consider and do before you go freelance.
Please remember, just because I want to create a discourse doesn’t mean I’ve perfected all (or even any) of these, but rather wish someone had shared them with me before I went freelance (or solopreneur-ing) so I could have started my journey with them in mind.
Today’s post is all about what to consider and do before you go freelance.
1 | Create a safety net
This doesn’t mean you have to get a loan or even investment capital. The great thing about taking your service based business freelance is that the start-up costs are low. This isn’t advice I was given but is something my Type A personality couldn’t do without. For me, I needed Adobe Creative Cloud, some stationery and a space to work. But before I quit my 9-5 I worked on the side for a couple of months, giving myself time to decide if this was a viable option for my skills and the local industry. Any money I made in this time was saved and combined with my annual leave pay-out to form a safety net in the case I didn’t manage to make my first few months target.
2 | Ask for help
It’s likely you’re starting your business in your area of expertise. Which in turn means you’re not an expert in all the other components of running a business and that’s fine! Don’t feel the pressure to know everything right off the bat. Instead, join a few Facebook groups and get involved. Most groups I belong to have designers, web developers, brand consultants, accountants and copywriters members and they’re willing to share. I didn’t even know about Facebook groups when I left my job. In fact, to me, social media as a whole was just that - social. I didn’t fully understand it’s business and marketing opportunities and am focussed on getting to understand it, even more, this year.
3 | Take the time to properly develop your offerings
You have an idea of what you want to be doing and what you’re capable of doing. Take those and flesh them out into actual offerings (a la carte services & packages). Develop the details of each service. I didn’t even consider doing this before I went freelance. I knew my long-term dream was to work with creative entrepreneurs and those truly invested in developing an authentic brand, but I was focused on getting paying clients, that what I was actually doing was less important.
4 | Learn how to market yourself
Do research before you’re in the thick of business so you know where to invest your time and efforts, where to find clients and how to do it in a way that’s attractive. I didn’t do this either. Don’t get me wrong, I read. a. lot during the first few weeks of business. I tackled whole archives of blogs, ready to devour any information I got. But I didn’t make notes or develop a plan. I didn’t actively engage with how others in my field were marketing themselves, I just wanted to absorb all their information.
5 | Be prepared to feel lonely sometimes
And make a plan early on to tackle it. I have not seen this spoken about in the way I think it deserves which led me to believe that it must just be me. I must be extra needy and not having someone around the whole day, whether you’re talking or not, wasn’t as much of a problem for other freelancers. I know better now but it really was a big hurdle in my productivity. Brainstorm ways to combat the loneliness. I’ve touched on this here where I talk about my ladies gym class and the importance of leaving the house.
Are you considering ditching your 9-5 and being your own boss?
I’d love to hear how you’re prepping yourself for your entrepreneurial journey.
Missed the other posts in this series?