Six months into full time freelancing, here’s what I wish I knew from the start…
Set realistic expectations
I used to work for a company that promised clients overnight success, to become a household name within weeks or grow social media following by thousands each and every week. Guess who had to hear the constant complaints? Me. The overworked, underpaid account manager trying to achieve the impossible. It was a valuable lesson to learn.
For a long time, I found myself in front of my laptop for a ridiculous number of hours a day, rarely taking breaks. It had a serious effect on my mental health to the point where I was ready to throw in the towel. Now, I make a conscious effort to take my dog for a long walk every day as well as taking regular breaks to actually move out of the hunchback position.
Have a separate office space
Another rookie mistake I made was working from my bedroom, it meant I was in that one room for the majority of my days, something I definitely do not recommend.
Work when you’re most productive
I know I don’t function well before 10 am, and more often than not, I produce my best work at 10 pm. That’s one of my favourite things about freelancing, if I wake up one day and decide I don’t want to work right away, I don’t have to.
On that note, in order to allow the flexibility that I need to work to my full potential, I always work 48 hours ahead of deadlines. This gives plenty of time for my editor to look over my work, and for me to re-read the following day with ‘fresh eyes’.
Be honest and upfront
My brutal honesty is truly a blessing and a curse in everyday life, my clients often comment on how honest or straight talking I am. Obviously, I always remain professional but if I have a valid and informed opinion which will improve my client’s brand, I’ll let them know.
The majority of my recent work has come from LinkedIn, I rarely used it last year, and when I did, I didn’t actually interact. Now, I spend a few hours each week connecting with brands and individuals I really want to work with. It’s taught me a lot and I got a lot of great connections dishing out useful advice and content every single day.
Listen to podcasts
With writing taking up the majority of my days, the last thing I want to do is sit reading articles, so I started listening to podcasts and it didn’t take me long to find my favourites. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend listening to the wise words of Dan Kelsall and Steven Bartlett.
Value your time
This is always going to the most difficult for some, getting paid what you’re actually worth. It’s a daunting prospect increasing your rates or sending off a proposal with what you might think are high rates. But, if you do some research, you might find there is scope to increase your rates.
Don’t be afraid to say no
If a client offers you more work or asks you to go above and beyond, don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the capacity to do so.
Ask for feedback
When you’re working independently, feedback on your work might isn’t always a privilege you’ll get. So, if you want it, all you really have to do is ask. Sure, a client will be quick enough to tell you if the works not good enough, but it’s always good to encourage open and honest critique throughout a project.
Of course, every day is still a learning curve in the infancy stages of running my own business. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you have some wise words to share, please get in touch!