Things I Wish People Told Me About Freelancing
The first serious blog site that I ever created was published 2 years ago. I was inspired to invest time and money into the world of blogging once one of my professors did a presentation of one of her past students who had went on to become a full-time blogger (her website). Representation really is everything. Something about seeing a fellow black creative doing what she loves and making money from it full-time gave me the courage that I could do it too.
The only problem was I didn't know exactly how bloggers made money until I had, had my blog for a year or so. I began to constantly research the subject so I could make a full-time career. I learned that people typically make a full-time income blogging by using the following methods: affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and offering freelance services. At the time freelancing stood out to me and a few months later I began my freelancing career as a social media manager/graphic designer. When I tell people what I do for a living they are often are amazed (this isn't a typical job where I live). It feels good that people find my life cool, but I feel it's my responsibility to share some things I wish people would have told me.
Getting Freelance Gigs Sometimes Is No Different Than Job Hunting
During my research period I came across tons of articles from freelancers that claimed they were making over $50K a year. I mean how could that not sound good?! What is failed to be mentioned by many bloggers is that, those numbers only work if you have built a great reputation so clients actively seek you out or you have landed loyal, high paying clients. Until you get to either one of those levels you will have to continue to put yourself out there. I currently have 2 contracted freelance positions and to be honest I could use a few more to be considered financially stable. Hunting for freelance positions in some ways can be more tedious than job hunting for a traditional career. These jobs aren't posted that much on typical job boards , you have to keep a close eye out for scams and the job boards that are specifically for work from home positons can be costly. I mostly use Indeed.com or Upwork, but another great way to gain a freelance gig is just by word of mouth. Once people are aware that I do social media management and graphic design they are often interested in my services.
Working From Home Can Get Lonely
When I tell people I work from home before I even get into what it is I do I can already see the spark of interest in their eyes. It's a blessing, but what I didn't know beforehand was that working from home is a huge responsibility and can lead to loneliness. Now that I'm out of school I no longer have classes and organizations to fill out my day and most of my friends are either still in school or busy building their more traditional careers. This leaves me with a ridiculous amount of time on my hands. At first I was having a hard time learning how to have fun in spite of not always having friends to join in and knowing how not spend all of my day chained to the laptop or totally wasting it. Things got a lot better when I started to pay closer attention to my habits and make my own special system of doing things. Here's a few things I picked up.
- Have a plan for the week - I write down a short list of thing I know I must complete by the end of the week on a sticky note. It's great because it keeps me on track with my goals and gives me something to do when I start to feel that bored/lonely feeling.
- Working at home ain't always an option - Sometimes working on the couch while binge watching A Different World is fine, but other days I know I will only end up watching the TV and sleeping. On those days I go to the coffee shop for better focus.
- When stir craziness hits get out - Sometimes I stay in for days because I have a lot of work or there aren't many events during the work week. Although I am introverted I still get some type of energy just from getting out and moving around a bit and when it's been serval days of staying in it pulls my energy down which means my focus for work gets off. Some days I just have to get out no matter if that means running errands or just making up something to do.
- Make more friends - In college most of my time was spent with my best friend, but our lives are changing drastically. She's been busy with school and her relationship so I can't always lean on her when I need to unwind. Lately a lot of my college acquaintances have been blossoming into beautiful friendships. Expanding my social circle has been great, because I now have more options. When one friends is busy I can always bet that another is going to hit me up to make plans. It also has helped to have friends who also desire to become entrepreneurs so that we can exchange tips, ideas and have work sessions.
Firing Your Client(s) Is A Thing
I never considered the idea of having to fire a client until I was in the situation. One of my earlier freelance opportunities was with a woman that I thought I hit it off with. I was excited to be working with her, but it didn't take long for things to go left. First it started with her bringing things that I wrote on my personal blog into our work relationship. Once I completed tasks she would act as though she had no recollection of agreeing on it. Her critiques on my writing would felt more like micro-aggression than a healthy criticism. I would get emails that read "this sounds like it should be in a hip hop ad." From there she decided she wanted to lower my pay.
I started to feel like an employee all over again instead of an entrepreneur. Feeling that way brought about a lot of stress as I didn't know how to professionally approach her. I was also afraid because I really needed the money even with the lowered rate. After speaking to my mentor she reminded me that I was the boss and that letting her go wasn't going to cause me to never make income again. I wrote up a well written email explaining that I felt that we weren't the right fit for each other and that I was willing to give her access to the remainder of the work I had done. In the end I'm happy I called it quits because she had the nerve to say "if you would have just waited I was hiring someone else to help you." So you lower my rate and then go searching to hire someone else to "help me" without me knowing and try to make me feel guilty for quitting girl double bye! The lesson learned was just because you like someone doesn't mean you will like them business wise and to be mindful not to accept every client.
This is not to scare you away. It's just that I hear people are interested in becoming a freelancer and I feel as though a lot of the content out about the subject don't lay out the not so glamourous side. Learning these lessons has taught me that not everything that looks easy is easy so be on top of your toes. The glamourous part is on the other side of failed attempts and hard work.