The F Word: How To Start Freelancing
IT'S BETTER TO HUSTLE 24/7
THAN SLAVE 9 TO 5.
SAID EVERY CREATIVE PERSON.
F IS FOR FREELANCE
Freelance is either two things; it's a feast or famine. Obviously, you never wish for the latter, but the reality of that should frighten you and that is the sole reason to work your ass off.
Freelancing is not for the weak at heart. You practically have to bust doors down and let people know that you're there and willing. You're constantly an outsider, however by choice and you can leave the gig whenever you feel like it. It's really an exhilarating feeling, naturally depending on the clients.
There is that awesome feeling that freelancers call the "Whole Foods paycheck". See, freelancers don't get paid on the same schedule as salaried people, for obvious reasons. Depending on the project or client, a freelancer gets a check either weekly or once a month. The first check is always an expectation of giddiness, like you're actually skipping to Whole Foods and treating yourself to your fantasy grocery list. The first freelance check feels like a winning lottery ticket. Then, the ones that come afterwards, well the expectations start to dwindle. You're now emailing the office accountant to inquire about your check, a lot of back and forth. Where is the check ... and you're back shopping at Trader Joe's before you know it. That's freelancing.
Okay so you've quit your full-time job and now ready to face the world on your own. The early beginning offers a feeling of excitement, keep that in your pocket for you'll need to remember that emotion later in your freelance life. First things first, buy and create your website. This is your calling card that hopefully gets passed around like click bait. Make sure your website reflects what your skills are, the values you bring to the table and any samples of what you can do or past work/projects. Website providers that we trust are Squarespace (obviously) and Format.
Before you start cold emailing prospective clients, you need to do your due diligence. Know as much as you can about the field and markets your work is involved in. The more you know, the more money you can make.
The next step is pretty admin, but needs to be done early on. Create a contacts sheet that includes a list of brands and companies that you want to potentially work with. I know it will seem too easy just to take the first freelance gig that comes your way, because you know rent. However, by making a wish list of clients allows you to start building a network of connections to get that first meeting introduction. It really is who you know, and you never know who knows who.
Most employers always check for past work references, but a good majority now also stalk you on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Why? Because an employer wants to know you're not a psychopath, that you like cactus shots and that you're sociable to an extent. So, get on those popular platforms and always remember that your next big client can be watching.
The true beauty and freedom of freelancing is challenging the theory of "conventional vs unconventional". Your mornings may not be the same as a proper 9-to-6er, but it is up to you to manage your time and schedule. These days you can work from cafe to cafe depending on your mood that morning or afternoon. If you work from home, make sure to create a work space that will encourage problem solving and creative thinking.
Ugh. Invoices. Not just a freelancer's bread and butter, but the bane of your existence. Meaning, it's the best and worst thing about freelancing. Find a reliable invoicing system whether it be Paypal or Square, make sure that it is set up so that once the project is finished, invoicing a client is an easy step. But, like I stated earlier, when you find a client that pays you on time --- try to hold on to them for as long as you can. Not going to lie, for that one favorite client, I tend to go out of my way in terms of extra work just to keep them happy. Both Paypal and Square (especially Square to be honest) makes it very easy to keep bookkeeping on track.
A gracious thank you never gets old. At the end of your project, be sure to say thank you to your supervisor, the person who hired you and (this never hurts), that person in accounting. It can make all the difference in future projects and/or referrals.