I’ve officially been freelancing a month now, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. I’m pleased to say I’m still intact and surviving…well just about. It’s time for a wee bit of an update and I wanted to answer one of the questions from the first post in this series.
OK, in the first post – Full-Time Freelance? What to expect – I mention the panic that sets in. Well, this can build up. Throw in the stress of constantly looking for new clients and then noticing your savings going down. Meltdown. I woke up one morning and I honestly couldn’t see how on earth I was going to make this work. I’ve a bad habit of internalising everything, then talking to myself in a negative way. This did not help the situation. I decided I needed to get help at this point and it came in the shape of my good friend. He also works freelance, so could relate. Plus the husband was at work. My friend has a good head on his shoulders and asked pointed questions, why exactly will it not work? What can I do now to make myself £100? What should I stop doing as it’s not adding value? Have I been sleeping badly? All these questions helped, having a massive cry help and just letting it all out helped too. It was a very cathartic moment if I’m honest. It needed to happen. Later in the same day, after I’d had a massive cup of tea and a quiet sit down, I went to a client meeting and everything has now fallen into place. If you are able, save 3 months of bills before going freelance. If you’re like me and you just needed to jump ship, this will be a scary time, but you can make it work.
As a freelancer, you will undoubtedly send off lots of emails and contact lots of possible clients. Some might even ask you to get in touch. Not everyone will reply in a timely fashion. Or within the allotted time in your head. People are working to their own schedule too. They have their own priorities and they may be swamped and unable to reply, something may have happened in their life that prevents them from replying – or it’s just not a priority anymore. I like to be in control of situations, so I’m finding the whole patience thing a wee bit of a struggle. I want to be able to allocate my time and know that I’ve enough work to play the bills at the end of the month. Having savings will help with the whole patience thing as well, there’s less stress on each interaction. Practice patience, move on to another task and set yourself a reminder to follow up in a week if you’ve not heard anything.
This is something else that is hard to learn. You will be rejected. It might be the polite – I’m sorry I’m no longer able to move forward on this project. Or it might be the rude – no response, reply or acknowledgement. Either way, it’s going to happen. That’s OK. If you’ve done everything you’re supposed to, from checking if it’s a financial blocker – in which case discuss their budget openly and see if there is still a way to work together. Or you’ve done your research and they still don’t see the benefit. You need to let them go. It’s hard not to take it personally. I was a bit frustrated with one client that asked me to get in touch and replied to my first emails and then just stopped responding. I was ghosted. I did follow up, just in case my email had gotten lost in their inbox. Still no response. So I moved on. Nothing further I could do. It’s best to get used to a bit of rejection. Dropping that project left me wide open to my new clients and they’re a joy to work with.
I was a bit naive on this front. Thinking I would be able to allocated days to certain projects. Nope. No way. As I’ve picked up clients my schedule went completely out the window. I was sensible and didn’t attempt to multi-task, that sh!t just doesn’t work, you waste time switching. Instead, I’ve been working in a few hour chunks, but I’m forever thinking about what has to get done when and worrying about it all. I’m gradually getting into a rhythm, I know this may only last for a few weeks, especially if I change clients again. One thing that is helping me organise my work – who is paying me first. I will make sure I get that work done and they will take priority. Bills to pay. Then if something is very time sensitive, I will put that second, sounds daft, but I check most things in a day. If I’ve time I will do it first thing in the morning – I often do have time, so this happens. I’ve a funny feeling my schedule will be a vague outline that will shift and change. I’m aiming to reclaim my weekends, this might take a while. Try not to work all of the hours in the day, you’ll just make yourself ill.
Know your worth. It can be hard to talk money with a client. It’s still new and you’re nervous. Do not undervalue yourself, if you do, you will spend more time on a project and not make enough money to pay your bills. Time is money. This sounds a bit callous, but you need to be able to pay your bills and live comfortably. If you don’t place value on your time, you will squander it on those “oh but it will only take a minute, I don’t mind doing it”, type of projects. Also if you do not value yourself, why should anyone else? I’m working on a reduced rate at the minute because I know I’m new as a Social Media professional. After a few months, this will go up to a better rate because I will have established a history. I’m still charging enough to pay my bills. For one client, I’ve dropped a wee touch further. I know she is very well connected and I genuinely like her and want her to succeed, so I’m doing what I can.
So I’m still standing and things are just going from strength to strength. I thought I’d try to answer one of the questions I was asked over on my youtube channel, I’ll aim to answer one each time. How do you know what you should freelance in?
This is a wee bit of a hard one, there’s no clear line of discovery. It comes down to – what would you do for free? For example, I’ve worked in IT for over 10years, almost 15 in fact. From development and support through to testing. While discovering software testing, I also discovered social media – in the form of creating my own YouTube channel and blog. Over the years I’ve grown to love these platforms and all the social media behind it. I’ve put myself through courses and learnt lots – all on my own time. So I’ve been doing it for free for about 4, almost 5 years. I love it and it’s the one thing that I have thoroughly enjoyed, even when I hated the day job. It’s also important to allow yourself to change within your freelancing work. You may start off in one role and gradually move into a different aspect. That’s OK. Just because you’ve said that you want to do X, it shouldn’t prevent you from trying Y. Don’t let fear of judgement stop you. Don’t let your own limitations stop you. This is an opportunity for you to build a career you love! I’m a multi-passionate person, so I will make sure I do what I need to make myself happy. There are lots of different roles within an industry that you might love! If you’re a blogger – maybe you’re excellent at photo editing or photography in general? Maybe you love the edit? Maybe it’s the sharing on social media? Maybe it’s the creation of websites? Try it and find out. Best case, it works and you’ve found your thing. Worst case? You have to go back and get a full time job until you can figure out your next move.
Let me know if you’ve any questions and I will aim to answer them in the next update in two weeks.