It has been 6 months since I've gone full time freelance - left my 9-5 office job, closed my eyes and fell off the edge of comfortable living and stable income to pursue my dreams. I gave myself 3 months to make it work, and if it didn't I'd go back to doing what I was doing and never moan about a missed opportunity to chase my dreams ever again. Considering I'm way over my 3 months 'freelance probation' period I'd say I'm pretty happy with the way things are going - I'm making it work.
There are many things I have learnt in the past 6 months - about being freelance, about running a business (or two in my case!), about people, about myself. So many of you have supported me on my journey (thank you, thank you, thank you a million times!) and I have received a few emails from some of you asking what it's like being freelance, how did I do it, and if I can help you achieve your own dreams. I love receiving these emails because it makes me happy that many of us are building our own brands, striving for a better quality of life when it comes to work/life balance, pursuing what we always wanted to do - generally being kick ass girl bosses!
Although I try and answer all my emails, I thought I'd share with all of you guys things that no one tells you about being a freelancer - and what to be prepared for if/when you take the plunge into creating your own business.
1. You'll have no idea what you're doing to start with. Unless you're a business genius, you'll feel lost and out of your comfort zone if like me you've come from a structured working background. I mean I was an account manager in a creative agency, so all the admin/budget/reporting side of things was my 'thing', and being creative is my passion so I now got to express this creativity in a way that also helped me pay the bills, not just as a hobby or a 'one off' project. But how do you find clients as a freelancer? How do you earn enough money to pay your rent/bills/Friday Dominoes?? How do you make a business strategy? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH TAX AND ALL YOUR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS??! Send help. Now.
2. You will have no money. If you're starting from rock bottom, you can forget making thousands in your first few months. The likely hood is that you will be eating beans on toast (forget the avocado on rye bread) and avoiding nights out like the plague for the first couple of months of working. You know that Dominoes pizza you love so much on a Friday night? Yeah, forget that unless someone else is buying. You'll switch from fancy wine from the top shelf of Tesco to a £3.50 bottle and just put it in a nice looking carafe you bought from IKEA when you could afford to spend £80 on candles. Spotify Premium? Sack that off. When it comes to Netflix, you can just go on a fast for one day a month to save £10 and keep that going because it will keep you sane.
You have to build up a portfolio of clients, and deal with all the points from the above paragraph in order to start making rent from your business, let alone a profit. Disposable income - sorry what's that now?
3. No one becomes an overnight success. I have heard so many stories from business coaches how you can make £30,000 in your first month as a freelancer if you listen to their tips, and you can live the dream in a fancy car and massive house within your first year of working for yourself. Yes, that does happen to 1% of freelancers, but if we're talking about your average person and not a cast member of Rich Kids of Instagram, you're looking at:
- working every day, and probably weekends if needs be
- working late nights and early mornings
- spending your own free time plugging your services at bars, clubs, coffee meet ups, even at grocery shops - just get the word out there!
4. You'll spend countless hours on social media looking at inspiring accounts, bumping up your own Instagram accounts (learn how to do that here), sussing potential clients or 'competition' - although I have to say I hate the word 'competitor' because we're not competing and the thought of other freelancers competing against each other makes me sad. There are so many projects to work on and you have to be the perfect fit for a company to create a truly beautiful projects so please let's not be greedy and instead help each other out?! The world is a much better place when we collaborate, not compete. Through social media you'll also build a community of freelancers just like you, you'll talk about projects and bounce ideas from each other, moan about late client payments and arrange get togethers.
5. You'll be the happiest you've ever been. I can promise you that - I thought money made the world go round, but honestly since I left my peachy pay package and rigid routine behind everyone has commented on how happy and relaxed I am. There's no better feeling that working for yourself, building your dream, creating beautiful work that you want to do and meeting so many amazing people along the way.
6. Things have a way of working out. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat and stressed about financials, new projects, pushing myself out of my comfort zone - but if you love what you do, if you're good at what you do, and if you're PROACTIVE things will work out. Good things come to those who hustle - you must remember that! And also keep a library of motivational quotes on your Pinterest for those days when you need to stick your chest out and march into the next day with a positive can-do attitude.
These are just a few things you can expect from being a freelancer or starting your own business, I hope you have found this useful! Take life with humour, don't stress about things too much and follow your gut - your gut never lies. Having a supportive community of friends and family really helps, and having a community of creatives who 'get it' is even more important because doing things on your own is hard - we're better and stronger together.
Are you thinking of going freelance and have a question you'd like to ask? Or perhaps you would like to share an experience of your own being a freelancer/business owner? Comment in the box below! And remember you can always drop me an email with any questions you may have.