10 ways to make freelancing the best job you’ve ever had
It’s #NationalFreelancersDay! To celebrate, I’ve come up with my top ten ways to make freelancing work for you – whether you want to take the leap or are already working for yourself. Enjoy reading and excuse me while I go for a long lunch.
1. Take advantage of the FREEDOM
For me, the biggest draw of freelancing is the option to work from anywhere. While working from different cities and countries has its challenges *hello, reliable wifi*, with a little effort, it can be done. I found I was the busiest at work while living in London, but that was probably because the stress of making rent made me more active about finding new work and I was keen to do lots of unpaid stuff to get exposure (that’s freelance writing for you). The networking opportunities in the capital where ALL OF MEDIA lives, are brilliant and opportunities spring up everywhere – the only problem? Burnout. It’s terrifyingly easy for the stress and constant ‘on’ nature of freelance life in London to soon become unbearable. After 18 months, I was ready to get out of there and spend time in a place where the pace of life was the polar opposite – kerala in India. I’ve filed article from India, Nepal and Spain and this winter I’ll be working from Bali. The image of taking the laptop to the beach is BS but a ‘desk’ with a beach view is very possible and co-working spaces are popping up everywhere now.
2. Become a slasher
We live in a world with very little security now. Fellow millennials have taken tips from the model/actress/humanitarians out there and are slashing our way to success. For me, this means I do a little bit of copywriting, a little bit of journalism, a little bit of social media and, soon I’ll be doing a little bit of teaching yoga. This sort of diversity means you spread the risk in case one area goes quiet and it means you never get bored. Yes, there’s some juggling needed and of course you can decide to focus on just one area if you want to, but it helps to have lots of skills in this crazy economy.
Excuse my slightly bragging tone, but my morning routine is BADASS. I take two hours, from 7-9am to write in my journal and do yoga and it sets my day up beautifully. Then I have a leisurely breakfast and check my social media before heading off to my local coffee shop. I know my productivity dips in the afternoon so take a long walk in the park with my sister where we chat through what’s going on in our personal lives and our businesses. It’s so much more productive that sitting at home staring at my computer screen refreshing my email and I come back reinvigorated to work until dinner.
Ahh colleagues, they can be wonderful friends or terrible enemies – who you see every. Single. Say. I can’t say I miss having colleagues. I work with some incredible women (shout out to Hannah Swerling at ELLE mag) and I even get to work with my sister on her social media business. I currently have a list of names of people I admire and who I would love to work with in the future pinned next to my desk (hello Adriene Mischler!). Social media is a brilliant way to connect with people whose work you connect with, and of course there’s good old-fashioned email – it’s amazing what can happen when you introduce yourself and take an active interest in other’s work.
5. Revel in your home office dreams
I cannot tell you the joy of having a home office. Now, I get that this isn’t always possible, especially if you share with friends or live in a city with exorbitant rent. But if you’re able to set up your own little desk in the corner of your home, GO ALL OUT on styling. I have vision boards, a pin-boards full of ideas and inspiration to keep me going. I even keep a couple of arm weights on my desk so I can flex some muscle while reading. Indulge your home office fantasies however you wish and go Pinterest mad for inspiration.
6. Put your shoes on
I heard this advice years ago and it really stuck with me. Essentially it’s about taking your work and yourself seriously and the means getting dressed to start your day as if you are going to work in an office – even if you’re just moving to another area of your bedroom. You don’t need to put on full make-up or a suit, but I’m telling you – shoes made a world of difference to your frame of mind and productivity.
7. Get serious about your finances
Yes, this means be super organised with your invoices, and consider getting an accountant. Make friends with the finance department! They’re in control of when you get your money so always be pleasant over phone and email. The best way to make freelance life less scary? A savings account for emergencies (sometimes called a fuck off fund). The professionals say it should be enough to see your through three months but honestly, even a small amount can stop the fear. Nothing will stop your creativity in its tracks faster than fear – so find ways to help you relax and get your work done.
8. Make friends with personal branding
Yeah, yeah, personal branding can feel icky. Get over yourself and accept that the reality that it’s a competitive world out there for freelancers. This means staying on top of your social media and getting a professional website to show off your work. I’ve had so many opportunities come my way from people finding me online. Get creative with it to show off your unique personality and stay consistent across platforms so those with the power to hire you know what you’re all about.
9. Take advantage of the down times
And there will be down times, believe me. During the first few years of freelancing I would fully freak out if I had a quiet month. I would concvinve myself I was a giant failure and would have to become an English teacher (shout out to English teachers – love you, you inspire me, you’re amazing and we need you). Now I try not to panic and actually enjoy the down periods because I know that before long I’ll be bombarded again and wish I could have time for long lunches with friends. Of course, this only works if you’ve made sure you have enough money in an emergency fund (see point 7).
I’ve been seeing this advice everywhere recently and it is a soothing balm for perfectionist types. Don’t wait to get your stuff out there, JFDI. Sometimes freelancing can feel like an uphill struggle, but if you consistently put in the work, it will pay off. Remember, you’re the boss. While working for yourself requires a lot of motivation, remember that you can’t build an empire overnight.
For me, freelancing has meant living the dream of being my own boss, being creatively challenged and having the freedom to travel. It’s not always easy, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had and I can’t imagine ever giving it up. Any other freelancers with tips for making it the best job in the world, I’d love to hear from you.