Tag: working for a living

Hashtag Freelance Life

self five
Reality of freelance life: There is only you to high-five you.

For the last few years, I’ve been freelancing. Being a freelancer isn’t all Starbucks coffee runs and working from your bed while you marathon TV shows on Netflix. When I tell people I work as a freelancer, I always cringe a bit, waiting for the inevitable comments and questions… That range from mild curiosity to things that make me want to Hulksmash. Here are some of the frequently asked questions and comments I get about freelancing — and my responses to them.

How do you actually get any work done?

It’s called the desire to not be homeless. Because if I didn’t meet deadlines and get work done, I wouldn’t be paid the pretty, pretty money that helps me pay the bills. It’s amazing how motivating that can be. Not to mention the fact that as a freelancer, so much of your job comes down to making awesome relationships with awesome clients so that they will hire you again and refer you to their friends. I’ve always worked hard to do my best work, but when you freelance, the pressure to be your best sky rockets. You learn to focus, buckle down and not only get the work done, but make sure it’s your best. Because there really aren’t any other options.

It must be nice to work from home!

Yes, it can be. It can also be the worst thing ever. There is very little home-work separation. I find it’s really hard to end my day, because my work life and personal life live in the same place. So yes, while I’m working, I can use my work breaks to do chores around the home, it also means that there is no home life-work life separation.

Be honest, you don’t actually work full days, do you?

I rarely work a traditional ‘full day’. Sometimes, I work sixteen hours a day, sometimes I work four. Freelancing gives me the opportunity to set my own work hours, to an extent. Sometimes, I don’t have the work volume that requires a full work week, sometimes, I feel like I need more hours in my day to meet deadlines. If you enjoy the chaos of having your schedule in constant flux… Hashtag freelance.

I’d love to not have to face my coworkers everyday– You’re lucky!

I find sometimes freelancing can be incredibly isolating. When I’m knee-deep in an assignment or contract, I don’t get out much. I don’t readily have people to brainstorm with or collaborate with. It can be lonely. That’s actually the one part of freelancing that has really surprised me– I actually miss the comraderie and energy of having coworkers.

How often do you turn coffee shops into your office?

That tends to be a personal choice. I have some freelance friends who work out of a cafe, diner or coffee shop a few days a week. I don’t do it that often, mostly because I have trouble focusing in that environment. I’m much more interested in the people around me, the music playing, that bird over there… I do find it useful when I’m meeting with clients or need some normal human interaction with people.

Being your own boss must be awesome!

Okay, yeah. Being your own boss is kinda awesome. It’s also a lot of pressure and pretty damn scary. As a freelancer, and as your own boss, you’re basically responsible for every aspect of your work and your job. Landing new work, scheduling, managing complaints or challenging clients, collecting on invoices, juggling the finances– it’s all on you! So yes, while it is pretty awesome to be in charge of it all, it’s also equal parts stress and pressure. The perfect balance, right?

Do you freelance? Or want to freelance? Have you worked with a freelancer before? Tell me about your experiences, I love hearing all about it.

 

Survival Tips for Freelancers

It’s kinda been my worst kept secret: for the last few years, I’ve been freelancing full-time.  I’ve done freelance work on and off since I graduated university, but was shoved into it on a more full-time basis when I was laid off from my job when we lost a major funder (The joys and excitement of working for non-profits!). At first it was pretty scary. Let’s be honest. It’s still pretty scary. But it’s also been heaps of fun and I have learned and continue to learn a lot about surviving as a freelancer.

Whether you’re thinking of dipping a toe into the freelance pool or diving straight in, here’s a few things I’ve learned about working as a freelancer:

Put yourself out there: Freelancing isn’t generally an ‘if you build it, they will come’ type deal.  You’ve got to get out there and tell people what you’re doing. I’m not saying you have to commission a sandwich board to wear around the city or to family functions, but having an elevator speech in mind when the ‘What do you do?’ question comes up is handy. There’s a slew of tools that can help you do this, too. Business cards, a website and social media accounts are also a good way to start putting yourself out there.

Be honest & realistic: Especially when you’re getting started as a freelancer, it’s easy to want to promise your clients the moon in order to secure new business. But you absolutely must be honest and realistic with your clients and with yourself. You want to be sure you’re making promises you can deliver on. You don’t want to risk breaking your back and hurting your reputation by not meeting expectations. Be honest and realistic about what you can do and the timelines you need to get the work done.

Be available & accessible: This probably goes without saying, but when you’re starting out freelancing, you want to be as flexible with your availability as possible. I’m not saying stress yourself out like one of Miranda Priestly’s assistants, but you are going to want to put in some extra time and energy. When I started out, I had some pretty strange hours. I’d be working away on a Sunday until well after midnight. I’d take meetings with potential clients whenever, wherever, you might as well have called me Shakira. You also want to make sure you’re accessible, so provide clients with a reliable way to be in touch with you, whether it’s email, text, mobile phone number– or all of the above.

Build your network: Start growing your networks! And I’m not talking your social media networks, but those apply, too. While it’s one of the biggest  clichés out there, there’s a reason why it’s cliché; it is kind of a thing. Building your network, both on and offline, is a great way to build a list of potential clients and let them get to know you. You’ll want to build a network with other freelancers, too. Don’t look at them as competition; other freelancers are a great resource and can open you up to the opportunities of collaborative projects.

Grow some balls: While it’s super fun working for yourself (Though honestly, you’re working for your clients, but ANYWAY), there are some parts of the job that can be awkward, unpleasant and just plain hard (That’s what she said). Sometimes you’re going to have to have some awkward conversations, sometimes you’re going to have to push back when a client is being difficult or not paying on time. You’ve got to be prepared to tackle these things head on in order to be a successful freelancer.

Be patient: Just like anything that takes hard work, establishing yourself as a freelancer is going to take some time. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen over night. Keep at it, put in the hard work and you’ll see results.