Thinking About Freelancing Differently
Freelancing for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, definitely has it’s fair share of ups and downs. For a start, it’s something I never imagined I’d actually end up doing, it was always a dream of mine to freelance full time, but I never thought it would actually happen and especially not so young. When I first went freelance full time I was terrified, I had plenty of savings to keep me going but it was still a massively scary thought because you’re constantly stuck in the unknown, but it was also super exciting to be doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I felt like I’d finally started on the journey to where I wanted to be, I was excited to see what project was next, I was looking forward to sharing what I was working on with people who followed my work and I couldn’t wait to keep building on my personal brand.
That’s how it usually starts out for me, I begin something new, and I feel unstoppable, not because I’m cocky or arrogant, but because I am usually full of self belief and only think about the positives of what I’m doing and how much I want it. Then, as I start to get more involved in something, I start to compare myself to others, other people like to give me, usually, their very inexperienced opinion on what I’m doing, and I also have to start learning new skills and tools, all of which start to knock my self confidence and self belief and seriously make me doubt myself. Which in turn, recently, has seriously made me consider if freelancing is such a good idea, it’s tough, a lot of the time I have no idea what I’m doing and I feel like I never will, and I feel like I’m always looking into the unknown, freelancing had become a very negative thing for me.
So lately, I've been trying to think about freelancing differently and seeing it through a different perspective, turning what I always saw as negatives into advantages. So I thought I'd share how I've been doing that for anyone else who might be having the same thoughts and feelings towards freelancing.
See everything as an opportunity.
Previously, I'd been doing the exact opposite to this, to me, everything was a negative or a burden. I hated that I struggled to work the same hours as everyone else, I hated that client work was either non existent or I was absolutely swamped with it and my income was inconsistent, and some clients had no budget at all. I hated that l felt like I constantly needed to create new content to put out, yet I couldn't concentrate or focus because I was overwhelmed with ideas and how much I had to do. Sound familiar? Well I've started seeing it in a very different light and its helped so much.
At the end of the day, most people are attracted to the idea of freelance because you have the opportunity to work on awesome projects and be more flexible with your working hours. So why not start seeing it that way?
Maybe you don't work the same hours as everyone else, but you're in a position where you can choose to work the hours when you're most productive, so why not make the most of that? You don't have to feel bad about it. It's very, very common for client work to be inconsistent so as long as you’re good with your money, the periods of time when you have little or no client work can actually be a good thing (more on this later on in this post). You can also really think about what you want and chose to focus on one thing at a time, even if it's just for 6 months to see how it works out, there’s always another 6 months after that to try one of your other ideas, you might not even need 6 months to complete what you want to do!
You have so many opportunities to learn and improve & have the ability and tools to get where you want to be.
When you work for yourself, you have the determination and the motivation to improve yourself and your skill set. The more your skills improve, the more work you're likely to get, the more you're likely to get paid higher and it's more likely that your work will be shared and get noticed. When improving yourself on a personal level you're giving yourself a much better basis to run a business on and to also have a healthier work/life balance.
There are so many resources out there to build new skills and learn new things such as Skillshare and YouTube, among so many other platforms. The majority of them are also done in fairly short sections which means you can easily factor in time to study regularly and really see the results. One of the biggest parts of being successful when working for yourself is having the edge over your competition and this is one thing that helps you to do that. With all of this information and all of these tools out there, there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work hard enough.
You get to control your happiness.
One of the easiest ways I find to get burnt out creatively is when I end up working on projects I'm not that into. Quite often, especially early on, this has to be done because you need to earn money, and in the beginning you won't always be getting the fun projects. Even when you do have to take these projects on, it's best to always be working on personal projects on the side so that you can add these to your portfolio and attract more of the work that you'd like to work on, you don't have to add every client project to your portfolio, especially if you don't want to work on something similar again. These are the types of projects you can work on when you have down periods of no client work to have some fun with and then use to build up your portfolio.
Another thing that I find, and have had to deal with again very recently that easily burns me out creatively is social media. Social media is probably the best marketing tool out there for freelancers, but it can create an immense pressure on us if we use it incorrectly. The main issues I have with social media are that I feel like I should be posting on it consistently (5 days a week to me), I get distracted by it in general and I also compare myself to others and beat myself up because I get the impression I'm not working as hard as someone else or that I'm not as successful as I should be, and it becomes extremely deflating and hard to get out of.
Whereas if you can use social media to share value and quality over quantity, being more thoughtful with your posting, it can become a really great tool for not only you but also your followers and your clients. Even when you're struggling with something and you might post something a little more personal or negative, it can still be written in a way to provide value to your audience and become relatable for them. When you're posting too much it becomes more of a chore and it can be hard to find meaningful words when you're trying to juggle so many different elements of your business. Also, if social media isn’t a source of income for you, focus more of your time on the areas of your business that are and just use social media as a place to occasionally share what you’re working on.
I’d love to hear any more tips for thinking about freelancing if you guys have any!