I didn’t choose the freelance life, the freelance life chose me.
Being a freelancer is so rewarding.
But, it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges and dark secrets.
I chose to work from home because I have two kids and a husband who travels the majority of the year for his job.
Working a traditional 8-5 job had never worked out for me. Either the pay was too low or the hours too long. I’m a big believer in living life on my terms, not on someone else’s. So, I said “peace out” to the corporate grind and became a Stay-At-Home Mom.
It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I decided to give freelancing a shot.
What I didn’t realize was how much work it would be.
I had always read about the happy times of freelancing…working your own schedule, making all the money, being my own boss. When I got into the nitty-gritty of actually being a freelancer, I realized not all those claims were true.
I love what I do, but I want to shed some light on the reality of this world. Hopefully this article will prepare you in a way I never was.
It’s hard to find clients.
Think it will be a piece of cake to find clients? That all you'll have to do is post on Facebook and they'll come running. I hate to say it, but it’s not that easy to find clients. In fact, it could take months before you find, and secure, your first paying client.
Don’t get discouraged by the process. Stay consistent with marketing your business and reaching out to potential clients. One day, your efforts will pay off. Some of the easiest (and FREE) ways to find clients are through Social Media and cold emails.
Join groups on Facebook or LinkedIn where your potential customers hang out. Respond to posts and create your own to get your name out there. Make sure you add value before mentioning your products or services.
Cold emails are a great way to get your name in front of people you actually want to work with. Let the person you're emailing know why you want to work with them and how your business can help them.
It’s even harder to find GOOD clients.
In the early days of my Copywriting business, I landed a project with a new client. I was so excited about working on the project and with this business. What I soon discovered is that not all clients are created equal.
There were phone conversations that ended with tears (mine, of course). I would send invoices that were never paid. I would ask questions about the project that were never answered. It was terrible!
After that experience, I’ve become very particular about the people I work with. If our personalities, styles, and values don’t match…I won’t work with them. That’s not always easy to do when money is tight, but don’t feel like you HAVE to work with a client that’s not that great.
You will work…a lot!
What do you call a CEO, marketing and sales department, accounting, and customer service all rolled into one…a Freelancer!
You’ll be in charge of finding your own clients and completing projects for those clients. Not to mention, the countless hours you'll spend marketing and managing your money.
If you thought being a freelancer meant you’ll be working less, you’re wrong. Many freelancers work MORE than they did while in their previous job. But, there is some good news. Once you get into the swing of running your business, things get a bit easier. Specific tasks won’t take as much time to complete. You can also decide what projects you work on and when you work.
Spreading the word takes time.
It’s no secret that you can’t bring in new customers if no one knows your business exists. That’s where Marketing and Advertising come in. When you first start out as a Freelancer, you may think it’s wise to sign up for accounts on every social platform on the internet. But, keeping up a presence on social media takes time. A lot of time.
To get the most out of your business marketing, start small. Choose one platform you’re great at. Keep up your presence there for a few months and then start on a second platform. A simple trick that can help you get a handle on your social media is to schedule posts. Pick one day a week to sit and plan all your posts for that month. By doing that, you'll have more time to focus on the other areas of your business.
Scheduling your work day can be difficult.
If you’re like me, you start Freelancing because you want to create your own work schedule. The reality of that is, it’s really effin’ hard to make a work schedule and stick with it. If I work from my home office (dining room), I get distracted. Chores, hunger pains, and social media taunt me every hour.
What happens when I stop working on client work to do these other things?
I’m up all night finishing my client work. Then, I have no time to “Netflix and chill” with a glass of wine before bed. Poor me, right?
Creating a schedule for “work time” can have a positive effect on your productivity. I like to block out specific hours each day to focus on client work. Another approach is to block out certain days during the week that you set aside for work. Whatever method you choose, just remember to stick with it!
Information overload will occur.
In the beginning, it’s easy to want to learn everything you can about specific job skills. What can happen next is something I like to call “information overload.” You cram so much into your brain in a short amount of time that you feel overwhelmed by it all.
Imagine a chicken running around with their head cut off. That’s what information overload feels like. You know you have certain things to do, but you can’t focus on them because of all the other tasks you need to do. To get away from that, focus on one specific area at a time. Master that one skill and then move on to the next. Not only will you feel less overwhelmed, but your business will have a better chance of success.
Once you make it, you’ll feel on top of the world.
Congrats! You made it!
The first time a client makes a deposit into your checking account will be the Best Day Ever! It's validation that all your hard work hasn’t been for nothing. That someone out there actually liked what you did enough to pay you.
Remember to stay consistent with the things that are working. Continue to prospect for new clients. Continue marketing and advertising your business. You want to make sure that you’ll be set for those months when you may not have as much (or any) work.
I’m not writing about the “dark side” of freelancing to scare you away. In fact, I want to do the opposite. Freelancing is rewarding, but it takes work before you’ll be sipping cocktails on your own private island. Heck, I’m not even there yet!
The key is to stay focused and determined to reach your goals. Don’t try to rush your success, it will come on its own time. Remember, “slow and steady wins the race.”
Where are you at in your freelancing journey? Are you brand new or have you been kicking it freelance style for years?
Share your experiences in the comments below!