Freelancing is not as easy as it may look and there are plenty of misconceptions about what is it is really like working on a freelance basis for organisations and businesses, big and small. In this post, I break down the things that I have learnt and the pros and cons I found during the two years I spent freelancing as a graphic designer, website designer, and social media manager.
The most important thing I learnt that I have taken forward into my own business:
- My time is precious.
- I deserve my creative freedom (I worked my ass off for it)
- Having a proper chair is super important.
- Creating systems is the key to good business.
- I can say NO without pissing anyone off.
- Working for people whose values that don’t align with yours can often be a nightmare.
- I can say no to jobs halfway through (yes, that client was an ass, and I was in charge of my day) – Let it go.
- Being creative truly feeds my soul, and I want everyone to have this opportunity.
- Ideas come thick and fast when I can fully immerse myself in my business.
- Having experience in customer service is pretty handy.
- Serving projects that don’t suit my beliefs are not as rewarding.
So, after saying goodbye to the corporate 9-5 slog and doing it for myself, here are some of my pros and cons. Remember – only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to freelancing. We all have different visions for our lives, and mine was to freelance for as long as I needed before I could move on and start turning it into a business and start helping others to get their own creative freedoms.
One of the biggest things that being a freelancer gave to me was the opportunity to be directly responsible for everything. It gave me a huge insight into what it is like to run my own business, so for that, I will always be grateful.
- A sense of freedom like no other.
- Wake up whenever you want.
- Work from anywhere in the world.
- You are the boss.
- You can choose your projects and clients (See tips)
- You can make really good money.
- The only limit is your creativity.
- You can wear whatever you want – no more ugly suits.
- You can leave your office whenever you want.
- Choose your working hours.
- You get the opportunity to learn something new every single day.
- You need to make sure that you have all of the tools you need to do your work. – If you have an issue with your internet connection or your computer breaks, you are responsible.
- Not working in a team.
- No guarantees on how much money you are going to make.
- You are responsible for all decisions.
- Clients could pay invoices late.
- Working hours can vary. One day you might be doing a 15-hour hurdle to get a project done, and the next day you might need to do only 2 hours of work.
- You have to wear more hats than just the bosses hat: accountant, social media manager, marketer, customer service, etc.
- When you first get started tread carefully with each new client – You can learn a lot from slowing down and taking everything in.
- Treat every project as your best piece of work.
- Create a working environment that inspires you. Separate your workspace from your personal life. (Maybe consider a co-working space)
- Set up a system and schedule your days.
- Get an accountant.
- Some clients can be very vague about what they want so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions.
- If you are not sure about something, do not assume. Ask, ask, ask.
- Coffee shops are a great place to work when you need a break from your usual spot.
- Set goals – both business and personal.
- Don’t eat unhealthy snacks all day.
- Get testimonials.
- Never stop learning and building your skills.
- Always under promise and over provide. (But not to the point you are exhausted)
- If you are overwhelmed with work get another freelancer on board – It is ok to not do it all by yourself.
- Compare your prices to other industry professionals – Market research is super important.
- Be careful that you don’t take on more than you can chew when you first get started.
- Leave time in your schedule for projects even if you have already delivered them – your client may want some changes!
- Get full confirmation from your client that they are 100% happy once you have completed a job.
- If the project does not excite you, don’t take it on.
- If you feel that the client is not someone you want to work with, don’t take on the project.
- If you are asked to work on a project that goes against your own beliefs, say no.
- If you do not have time for a project, no matter how amazing it sounds, be honest with your client about your schedule.
- Join a community of freelancers or business owners so that you can chat with others, get advice and maybe even collaborate (Facebook & LinkedIn Groups)
- Never underestimate your client’s knowledge of your area of expertise. Below is a great example for website designers.
If you are thinking about freelancing and want some more insight, check out ‘The Art of Freelancing’ by Noah Bradley.
Do you have any pros, cons, and tips to add to this list? If so drop a comment below.