I have worked as a freelancer for quite some time now and so far it’s been a really great way to try out different types of jobs, explore industries and put my skills to good use.
However for many people starting out, the experience can be a little daunting as you have to manage your own day-to-day work life, deal with clients, varying projects, organise your finances and everything else in-between.
So for all of you just starting out, or are already headed down the freelance path, here are 5 things I’ve learnt in my first year as a freelancer.
There’s no 9-5:
While I am a big believer in mimicking an everyday office experience in your own home office (or work location of choice) sometimes starting at 9 and leaving at 5 is simply not possible. There will be times when each and everyone of your client needs something done on a particular day and you just have to juggle everything and make it work.
There have been countless days when I’ve worked well over the 12-14 hour work limit, and others are a bit more quiet where I can knock off early and grab a drink with a friend.
Just be prepared for this craziness, it will happen and it will pass – just gotta hustle and work through it!
When you are first starting out, it is so easy to take on any opportunity and project that comes your way that you forget to lay the ground work down.
It’s so important to have a written contract or document that clearly states your understanding of the project, the duration and the cost. And if possible, ask for a deposit up front if it’s a one-off kind of project.
This means that just in case anything goes wrong, you have a legal document clearly stating the project, the duration, the cost and that everything was signed and agreed upon.
Focus on your people skills:
You’re good at your job. You have experience, you have talent – there’s no denying that. However as I very quickly found (and I’m sure many other people out there have as well) is that perhaps one of the biggest learning curves as a freelancer is dealing with people.
Client management is huge and is something that takes practice and skill. You will be dealing with a variety of different people, some are great and really trust your skills and knowledge, others will want to be involved throughout every process and will want constant updates and changes.
You will never get the perfect dream client (if you do, hold onto them very tight!) so it’s important to outline your expectations and learn to be kind but assertive. Give a little information and extra work for free, but if they are expecting you to go above-and-beyond what you agreed and is worth your time, simply say you are happy to help but at this cost.
As a general rule – I always tell myself to not engage with the crap and deal with the facts if any issues arise.
You will be the service provider, receptionist, accountant and everything in-between:
Get used to it! Freelancing means you juggle all of these hats as the business is yours and yours alone. That means you need to be on top of paying your expenses, issuing invoices, organising your documents, booking in appointments and the list goes on.
Having said that, take some time to really recognise what your strengths and weaknesses are. For me I know I completely suck at numbers, therefore I outsource my finances to someone who really knows that area.
Protect your personal brand:
Your personal brand is everything, so ensure you have a great looking website, social media sites, headshots and business cards. Dress well and make an effort with your appearance for every meeting.
Practice with friends how to network, and keep a list of great conversation starters in the back of your mind for networking events and business meetings and make sure you get out there and keep meeting new people!
Your personal brand is a huge asset to your business so use it as a point of difference to stand out!
Are you a freelancer? Have you learnt any great tips to share with us? Comment them below.