When I started this blog, I intended for it to be a place where I could mull over my experiences with writing. But I also wanted to hear about experiences that other freelancers have had because, in my mind, there is nothing more valuable than learning from first-hand experience. Sharing those kernels of knowledge with each other is part of the mission with this blog, so I hope you find this inspirational and educational.
So here is my blog’s first guest post, written by the talented and oh-so-lovely Katie Portman. You need to know this lady. Here is her website and here she is on Twitter. She has a great story about making the leap into full-time freelancing. If you’ve been considering it at all, read on to gain some important knowledge from Katie’s own experience. Enjoy!
Up close and personal – A freelance experience
My name is Katie and I’m a freelance writer from the UK, from a little town called Barnsley to be precise. My freelance journey officially started in July last year so I’m still very much a novice, however unofficially, the freelance seeds were sown a long time ago, when I first began to think about it as a possible career.
This is my freelance story.
I was working as a Marketing Manager when I quit my job and decided to make my freelance dream a reality. It was a good job, interesting and not badly paid, but it never made me feel fulfilled. I feel awful saying that now because the company I worked for was great and the people, fantastic. But when something doesn’t feel right, you just know it isn’t right.
In 2003, when I left University and ventured out into the big bad world of work, I used to think that as long as I could write for a living, I’d be happy. And on the whole, I was spot on. But as the years ticked by and I moved from journalism into PR and eventually marketing, I learned that I also wanted more from my career and more from me. Working with words for a living was no longer enough. I wanted to work for myself, too.
I considered freelancing often, but like most of us, I dismissed my thoughts and told myself it was an infeasible idea, an impossible way to earn a living! But try as I might, those thoughts never really went away and so eventually, I began to research it a little and started to think that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea after all, something I could do, one day.
But then, in June, two things happened which erased any last niggling doubts or any of my excuses, as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t give it a go, now. Firstly, after a long weekend at home, I broke down in tears at the thought of going back to work, which was completely out of character for me, and then, just a few days later, I began to read Linchpin by Seth Godin – an inspirational book which literally changed my life.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. It was time to be brave and take some action, and so I did. The following week I handed in my notice and declared to the world, that I was going to become a freelancer. Now six months on, I haven’t looked back since.
What it’s like to live the dream
First, the perks! …
- You get to kiss goodbye to the 9-5 routine – I know that there are many people out there who enjoy and take comfort in the Monday to Friday, 9-5 routine, but personally, I hated it. Although I still have to have some kind of routine in order to get things done, I have greater choice and flexibility as a freelancer because it’s up to me when I work and how.
- Life is much more interesting – Freelancing is tough but it’s also exciting AND exhilarating. I never know quite what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be meeting next month, next week or sometimes, even tomorrow! Life suddenly seems much more fun and I no longer dread Monday mornings.
- It’s empowering – I’m learning and acquiring new skills all the time. I have to make tough decisions, pitch for work, deliver results to clients and do all of this….on my own. Sometimes, it scares the hell out of me, but mostly I love it. I’m becoming more confident, both in myself and in my ability and even though it’s stressful at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
- You get paid to do what you love – From a blog post to a press release, web copy to a magazine feature, I spend most of my time writing. Being able to do this makes me incredibly happy and the fact that I get paid to do it….well, let’s just say, it’s the icing on a very sweet cake.
And the not so good stuff…
- It can be lonely at times – I tend to spend the majority of their working week, sat at a desk, working alone. The plus side to this is that I get lots more done. The downside is that it can get very lonely.
- It tends to be a feast or a famine – As a freelancer, I’m beginning to notice a pattern in regards to my workload. Either I’ve got too much to work to fit in or I have hardly anything to do. Juggling my workload and finances is therefore often a bit tricky.
- It’s easy to be distracted – Because I work from home, it’s very tempting to lie in bed for an extra few hours or settle down to watch the TV, so it takes a whole lot of motivation and self-control to get anything done.
Becoming a freelancer has transformed my life and without doubt, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’d seriously recommend it to anyone who fancies a more challenging, rewarding and interesting type of career. And so, if you think it might be for you, here are a few pearls of wisdom which might just help. Good luck!
- Don’t think it’s easy but DO think you can do it – Being a start up freelancer is tough and not for the faint hearted but it is possible! Work can be found but you’ll need to be committed, dig deep and search for those opportunities.
- Support matters – Don’t go into it alone! Share your dreams (and your fears) with your family, friends and loved ones as you will need all the support and encouragement you can get, to help keep you motivated and spur you on!
- Stash some cash – Jobs don’t appear overnight and neither does the cash so having some money to fall back is critical. If you want to become a freelancer, start saving now.
- Research, research, research – Making the leap into freelancing is tricky, so do yourself a favour and find out as much as you can about what you’re letting yourself in for. There’s all kind of helpful books, blogposts and websites out there so fill your boots and read…..lots!
- Think of yourself as a brand – As a freelancer, people will pay for your services and talents, so it’s a really good idea to start thinking of yourself as a brand. After all, what you’re selling to them is essentially YOU! With that in mind, make sure your behavior, appearance and activity always accurately and positively reflects who you are and what you do. And always, always be professional!
- Believe in yourself – When you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, it’s important to remain positive and continue to look for opportunities, so don’t give up! Believe in yourself and work hard and you’ll soon find that you have more work than you can handle.
- Enjoy it! – Despite the occasional downtimes, working as a freelancer really does offer amazing opportunities and freedom that can’t be beaten. So if you think it’s for you, be bold and be brave and give it a shot! Make the most of what comes your way and enjoy it! After all, life’s too short not to.