My First Year of Freelancing
I can hardly believe it, but I am somehow a year into freelancing and today I thought I'd fill you in...
For anyone new to TLM, I am a freelance photogapher and copywriter, producing all kinds of promotional copy and images for small businesses online. I still consider myself super lucky to do what I love, and as there is a lot of mystery and intrigue on the subject, I wanted to update you on what freelancing is really like... think of this post as the follow up to my Realities of Freelancing post from a couple of months ago.
Let's dive in, shall we?
TIME FLIES WHEN YOU'RE HAVING FUN
Though my calendar confirms that it's been a year since I first started, I've learnt so much that it feels so much longer. I spoke to the lovely Charlie a while back, who started freelancing when I did, and we both agreed that time seems to pass differently when you're your own boss. With so many big lessons under my belt, it seems so surreal to look back and realise I've only been self-employed since September. Truly, some weeks have felt more like months!
YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR VALUE
I've been talking to friends about this a lot lately; I really worry about how women are cultured to consider money. Ask my elder brother what he thinks he's worth and he'll tell you a confident figure without thinking twice; ask me, however, and I'll quote something that is far less. I sat down recently to re-assess my hourly rate, now that I understand all the factors that need to be taken into account, and was stunned to see it should be far higher than I had ever thought. My initial reaction was genuine horror – "How can I ask for this?!" – when the truth was that I'd estimated it based on reasonable calculations, not extravagant guesswork. It concerns me that I feel such conflict over asking for the bare minimum, when my brothers have no shame in valuing themselves and their work. It's something I'm going to be working on for myself, and encouraging all my female friends to do too.
Although freelancing has the word "free" at the start of it, I really encourage anyone reading this to remember that whatever you offer, you're saving clients from the expenses and responsibilities of hiring regular employees. You are already offering a great deal, so never be afraid to say no if someone really doesn't want to pay your dues. You deserve a living wage and not to be taken advantage of.
HAVE A SAFETY NET
If I could start over again, I would make sure I had a great amount in my savings account. This is especially important to anyone not living at home with their parents, as your day-to-day living costs will need to be met and it will likely be that you have a slow few months getting started. I recommend always having some savings, just in case, as slow periods do happen and you'll need a buffer to keep the lights on. I had to delay moving out while I got my buffer in place, and would definitely not recommend starting without one!
Don't feel ashamed if you have to find a part-time job, or delay going full-time, as you find your feet. What's important is that you have enough incoming to live comfortably while doing something you enjoy. It really shouldn't matter if you need a side income to help that happen.
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF MAKES SENSE
A younger version of me might have thought being your own boss means a whole load of lie-ins and days-off, but initially, the opposite was the case. Though I thought I was smart enough to steer clear of the 24/7-hustle-nonsense that has been praised all too often for my liking, I realised in March that I was talking the talk and not walking the walk, if ya will... Early starts, working during meals and at weekends left me burnt out and I hadn't scheduled myself any holiday, either. Understanding that if I'm well-rested and happy I can then be better at what I do might sound simple, but it took a bit of burnout to get me there. I'm hopeful that I'm going to be a whole lot more sensible about this in the future!
WE'RE ALL FACING THE SAME STRUGGLES
Working closely alongside my clients, especially ones I'd see on a regular basis, means that I was quick to notice that certain doubts and resistances were universal. I try and share my rough weeks or low patches, but it's not always easily done; it's easy to see why some never mention theirs at all. I'm now pretty used to remembering that other people's curated snippets are not the full story, and seeing happy posts on Instagram or Facebook rarely phases me nowadays. You can never compare yourself to someone else's highlights.
YOUR CONFIDENCE WILL SOAR
I cannot believe how sure of myself I am these days. Literally, stunned. Though I still have my days, I really feel the last six months has given me a chance to test myself and it's so lovely to be in a role where I feel happy. I've been able to get comfortable with some of my biggest weaknesses and chat to people from all walks of life, and it's only made me believe in myself more (I know, I know, for a former vegan this post just got insanely cheesy). For real tho: I'm really happy to be doing a job I love, and it shows.
If you're someone who keeps thinking, man, I could go freelance but I'm scared to, I hope this post inspires you to do your research and start considering it seriously! Know it's something of which you're capable and explore when you can make the switch... even if it's a little while away. Are you interested in going freelance, or have any of your own tips to share? Come to the comments and let me know!