Freelancing: an honest account… plus some tips.
Given that freelancing is such a vast area, I will share my own experiences as a freelance writer and ‘marketeer’… and I will start by making two assumptions:
- By clicking on this blog I assume you are looking into working on a freelance basis.
- Similarly, whereas I now freelance in my spare time, once upon a time it was my full-time job, which I assume you are planning to explore.
Freelancing: the dream
When I relocated from the north east to London back in 2013 my rose-tinted freelancing glasses were firmly fixed onto my dreamer head. My freelancing plan consisted of spending hours people watching, sipping flat whites in Regent’s Park and writing for high flying clients in the big City by day. By night I would switch to cocktails and tick off my hit list of bars and hot spots: my best writers’ life. Marketing’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw, if you will.
The reality: a typical day
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not the reality – at least not my reality!
I did start my days in Regent’s Park with a flat white, but found that puppies and people watching can be very distracting and often decamped back to my flat, where i waited for work to come in. I signed up to various freelancing platforms and did ad hoc articles for window fitters, dog walkers and personal trainers – not quite the dream but they paid the bills and I learned a lot from each client.
Freelancing did, however, provide me with the freedom that its very title promises. I could largely work whenever I wanted, for whomever I wanted and wherever I wanted. And it wasn’t just London-centric. I began to write content for clients in New York, Hong Kong and America, spanning many diverse industries. This afforded me the opportunity to hone in on where I felt my niche lied, and now I get to write full-time in this industry.
I often found that work came in from overseas, so that my idealised 9-5 working time frame was soon laughable. It wasn’t unusual to be sat on my bed at midnight proofreading an article before submitting. The life of a freelancer is not always glamorous, but it can be very rewarding if you have realistic expectations from the offset… which is why I have shared my top three tips below:
Tips for freelancers
- Treat it with the same respect as a ‘regular’ job
Get up, showered and dressed as you would a regular job. And please put on some pants! (Everybody is on to your waist-up work attire on a Skype call!) Set yourself a working space: desk, stationary, phone charger, laptop, printer etc. You are working for yourself now, so expect to finish late and start early, especially in the early days.
- Don’t sell yourself short
Freelancing is a competitive business. On quieter days it can be tempting to slash your prices in a bid to win more work. However you must value your time and your craft – there are overseas freelancers who will provide content for pennies, you should not. Learn what makes you stand out and play on that strength, don’t devalue your work.
- Network, network, network!
It’s not enough to sign up to a few freelancing websites. Keep track of your professional relationships and continue to nurture them. Speak with friends and neighbours and seek opportunity there, attend networking events and conferences and never rely on a static pool of clients. It is good to have regular clients, but that income can dry up if one or two simply no longer require your services. Always have a backup plan!
I hope you found this blog useful, and I wish you the best of luck in your own freelance journey!
Credit: Amy Harland, Freelance copywriter.