Freelancing has been the talk of the town recently. It’s like you can’t have a conversation without somebody mentioning it one way or another. Since it’s having a moment, I’m here to share some lessons that can be learned from freelancing. Whether you are just starting off, or have been part of it for a long time, I hope these lessons are a source of encouragement for you.
Practicing discipline is easy for some and not for others. If you are one of the latter, things might not work out as smoothly as you might think. As it turns out, freelancing requires more discipline than a day-job. With nobody looking over your shoulder to make sure you are getting work done, it’s very easy to fall prey to being overtly lazy and procrastinating until the very last minute. If you want to make it as a freelancer you should be quite adept at self-discipline. And if you’re not, it’s never too late to start learning how you can do that.
Overcome your fear of the unknown
It’s the most important lesson to learn as a freelancer. The career path is ruled by uncertainty. You are unaware of how much you’re going to earn, and you don’t even know if you will get enough work or if you’ll be successful.
At the beginning of your career, the uncertainty could be so overwhelming that you might think of quitting and going back to the so-called safe “office job”, as having a steady flow of cash is appealing. And it’s nothing else but the fear of the unknown that makes us think of quitting. But is anything ever free of uncertainty? Do you believe that you can’t get fired from your day job? You are wrong if you think you can’t. Life is filled with uncertainty and freelancers should come to accept this sooner than later.
Prepare to be a jack of some trades if not all
It’s quite rare for freelancers to be doing just one thing. When you are just starting you might say yes to a lot of things. But with time you find out the things you are good at as well as what people are interested in, which is just as important. You might even find yourself making money off of your hobbies, which you wouldn’t have even thought of before.
When you are your own boss, handling almost everything regarding your business, whether it’s management or marketing, you have got to be prepared to handle a multitude of things.
Having a good network will always pay off
Your network matters much more than anything else. With a good network, you have the opportunity to expand your business. But without it, you might find it quite difficult to increase your client base or even stay in business.
Talk to friends, family, and ex-colleagues (if you just quit your day job) and spread the word as much as you possibly can. Work will start flowing in no time.
The flexibility is worth everything
Most people switch to freelancing not because they want to be rich, but because of how flexible it is. The ‘where’ and ‘how’ of the work is up to you as long you are getting things done. You can decide to work for four days a week and enjoy a long weekend or work for 10 months straight and then go out for a month-long vacation. It’s all going to be of your choosing.
The flexibility of this sort is worth everything even if you don’t make as much money as you used to on your desk job.
Get used to getting no for an answer
At the beginning of your freelance career, you’ll get turned down more often than you’d like. You must grow thick skin and get used to getting rejected. I agree that it sucks, but that is how a business works.
You can’t allow yourself to get discouraged by that. Just pick yourself up and move on every time you are hit with a “no” for an answer. And that is because there will come a time when you’ll start hearing fewer nos and more yeses. So, it’ll all pay off eventually.
Remember to have a life outside of work
It’s easy to get sucked into work since you are managing everything related to your freelancer career. But you need to have a life outside your work; you can’t ignore your family, friends, and the things you enjoy doing. Head out for a walk in the park, or get a coffee from that café that you like.
Don’t just sit with your laptop all day. And on the days when you feel stuck, take a break and get back to work when you feel comfortable. Doing things that you like will save you from feeling burnt out at the end of the day.
Freelancing comes with its ups and downs, and it’s not for everyone. But if it suits your temperament it can be really rewarding.