First of all, congratulations on considering or taking the step to become a freelancer! We are passionate creators that desperately want to share our unique voices with the world through our tireless efforts to seek out new opportunities that directly speak to our hearts!
Whether going freelance is a long time consideration or a sudden change of circumstance, here are some reflections for all stages of your journey.
The honest truth is that full-time freelancing is hard! Overnight success is rare. Resilience is key especially in the first few years when slow growth and self-doubt can creep in. Always remember your passion - a will so strong that you can't imagine doing anything else as a living. While skill and capacity are important, I believe attitude is vital to growing your business and developing meaningful connections with clients. Genuine joy in your work and constant curiosity is what will sustain you over the years. Celebrate your efforts, be kind on your failures, dream big, and surround yourself with like-minded supportive people.
Create an intentional work environment that is separate from personal living spaces. If that is not possible, try to develop a routine to signify the space is now in "work mode". For me this means, opening up the curtains and turning on the studio lights.
Growth and Outreach:
Balancing time for experimentation and self-development with concrete steps towards new opportunities is key. I can empathize with the mindset of waiting till your portfolio is perfect before committing to outreach as we strive to show our best selves to others since creation is so intrinsic to who we are as individuals. Perhaps monthly goals can help set firm deliverables while giving you the flexibility to freely create for longer periods. There is no harm in following up with outreaching again at a later date once you produce new work.
Know Your Industry:
Take in all the information you can about your industry through all avenues possible - books, websites, social media, professional associations, classes, lectures, events, competitions, mentors and peers. It is sure to keep you inspired and develop a keen eye for emerging trends giving you a competitive edge while gaining the necessary basic knowledge on how to operate your business successfully. A tip is to seek out networking events catered towards your specific field to gain access to unsolicited opportunities.
Finances and Admin:
Keep detailed records of expenses, invoices, income, and working hours from day 1. This information is invaluable to assess how your business can scale up in the future. It will provide key insights on time/project management, how to optimize your rates to best reflect your services, and indicate possibilities to delegate tasks.
Becoming a Voice for Freelancers:
The moment you become a freelancer, you are a professional in the sense that you must be committed to strive for excellence in your chosen field. While freelancing can be a way to dip your toes in new territories, I believe it must be taken seriously with all the expectations of any other type of job. Be a proud advocate of freelancing, show that your professionalism is valuable and worth it! Always follow best practices in all your collaborations.
Thank you so much for reading till the end! I hope this was an encouraging and helpful read. Don't be shy to say hi on instagram: @natalie.illustration