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My Tips For Freelancers

I often get questions from people about freelancing. People who want to go on their own and make their career work for them. A lot of people are frustrated in their current jobs. Sadly, not enough workplaces ask enough good employee survey questions. It is possible a lot of people wouldn’t have these frustrations if they were given a voice to air their grievances. I think freelancing is a great idea, especially if you have worked for a while and gained experience in client procedures, professionalism and working in teams. Being able to create invoices online from wherever you are has also been nice because I know how much I’m getting paid!

What people think freelancing looks like

(I also get a lot of people who ask me how to start a blog. And then I say “Well, go to blogger.com or wordpress.com and start a blog and then write on it.” But people mean “How do I start a blog I can earn money from so that I can quit my job in paint sales and review restaurants for a living?” and for that I have no answer. There’s no exact science to it. It’s about luck and finding an audience and then working super super hard all the time and maybe getting paid sometimes but mostly doing it for the love of it)

What freelancing actually looks like

I went freelance at the beginning of this year and thanks to a relationship with my mentor and one of my personal strong-female-idols, Mariette du Toit-Helmold, I have been busy and well-fed this year. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some incredible projects, with some wonderful clients and I have truly loved my job all year.

I’m by no means an expert on this subject and there’s a possibility that I’ll have to take an office job at some point in my future, but I’ve learned a few lessons and gleaned a little bit of knowledge over the past year and if you’re thinking of going freelance then I’d love to share it with you. I’m not saying I’ve got it all down, I’m just saying I’ve got some of it down.

None of my advice involves creating a spreadsheet of work hours or any kind of motivational advice for managing your time. Because that is not how my brain works. But here they are, my tips for freelancers. I hope they help.

1. Get Dressed

There are some days when I could use my own advice here, but in general, I tend to get dressed. It’s very tempting to work from bed until 11am (so tempting that I do sometimes end up brushing my teeth after lunch) but it’s no good for the psyche. Try schedule 9am meetings or go to a 7am yoga class. It’s good motivation to get up, put on some clothes and mascara and it really helps with feeling like you’re getting stuff done. (I’m typing this is my robe)

2. Say “Yes Please”

If you’re like me, you can probably do many things. And if you can’t, I would not suggest going freelance until you have a strong network of established clients. Being a freelancer means that you have to be adaptable. You’re a copywriter, right? But do you create social media calendars? Say “yes please”.

If it’s something that you don’t feel like you have a firm grasp of, do some research. Google it, watch YouTube tutorials and meet up with your friend who does it. Be confident in your abilities, because you are smart and with a little research, help and adaptability, you’ll find new skills sets that you didn’t know you had and new doors opening to exciting work. I’m not saying you should bite off more than you can chew, but you’d be surprised what you’re capable of when people trust you to be capable of it.

So say “yes please” and then work hard. I work more hours now than I ever have before and I often start at around 6:30am. I work in coffee shops and on planes and in bed and even on a boat once and at night and before the sun comes up and on weekends. But I love it, because I’m doing it for myself.

3. Be Professional

Work like you would work in an office environment. Treat your clients like your managers are watching. And don’t work for free, because it’s the small jobs that you agree to doing for free in order to “build your contacts” that will get sent for 16 reverts and end up costing you 3 times the amount of hours you budgeted for. If you want people to take you seriously, take yourself seriously. You don’t work for free. For more advice on freelancing, then you can visit bizzbeginnings.com for more tips and tricks, as well as free invoice templates you can use to help you out on the financial side of things for your business.

4. Put Yourself Out There

Now I really would recommend starting a blog (see above for details). It’s a powerful way for you to showcase your work and skills sets and a great place to hone your creativity. If you’re a social media manager, start a blog that tells people about yourself and your life. Mention in your About page that you’re a freelance social media specialist. Create a page that showcases your work.

Because when you’re a freelancer, your most powerful tool is you. You need to show people who you are and what you can do. Relationships are vital when you’re out on your own, because it’s the girl your boyfriend worked with two years ago who is at a new agency now who will remember that he once mentioned you work in social. And if she can find a showcase of your work online when she needs someone to consult on a project, that relationship could mean two months of rent for you.

A growing number of companies pay for freelancers with skills in website building, content writing and social media using currencies like Bitcoin. In brief, cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. If you’re looking to apply your digital skills and have a good understanding of the cryptocurrency market, you might want to consider cryptocurrency freelance work using a site like Freelance For Coins. Just remember to always do your research first as the cryptocurrency market takes some getting used to.

5. Keep Up To Date With Your Field

It’s easy knowing all the trends and market research results when you’re in an agency. It’s stimulating brainstorming with a team and presenting to clients and that’s what you miss when you’re freelancing. You miss bouncing off others and learning from people around you. So subscribe to blogs and follow Twitter accounts that publish content about your field.

I really enjoy following Social Fresh and reading Social Media Examiner for their content and insights into this slippery, skinless grape of an industry. Just when you think you’ve adapted your strategy to maximise Facebook’s new bonkers algorithm, they change it. These blogs talk about strategy, trends, research and more and their useful tools for stimulating your strategic braincells.

I truly believe that the travel industry is doing some of the most innovative and exciting work out there right now, and Skift is a good place to track trends and campaigns that are inspirational and pioneering. Of course, there’s a lot of opportunity for brands to work with the travel industry to create meaningful campaigns that reach thousands of travellers, so the site is interesting reading material for anyone in marketing.

Well, those are pretty much all the tips I have for you. As I said, I’m no expert. I’m just trying hard to make it work and enjoy the process. Do you have any tips for freelancers?

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4 comments

  1. Great tips!

  2. Thank you for the post and info!

  3. I’ve been freelancing for almost 7 years now. I recommend the following in point form (cause, unlike you, writing stuff is not my forte)
    – Number your invoices, use excel, numbers or Freshbooks.
    – Use an app called Durations to calculate how many hours you spend on each project.
    – Always follow up with your clients once you’ve finished working with them. Thanking them for the work you’ve done together and asking if there’s anything you could’ve done differently to make the process smoother.
    – Always have business cards in your bag/wallet/pocket
    – Update your portfolio as you go along (I haven’t done this and I’m in the process of uploading work from 2 years ago still!)

    Ok..that’s all I think.
    x

  4. This post was like a sign from the universe telling me to get my shit together. This morning I was sitting in traffic moaning, on a voicenote, to my sassy-gay-friend about how i’m wasting the most important, wrinkle-free years of my life doing something not sustainable to my mental well-being.

    thank you!