Freelancing can be regarded as a great adventure in which you go from project to project following your dreams and pursuing your passions exactly as you want to. You have total freedom. You can work wherever and whenever you want to. These are very real rewards of working independently.
Every coin has two sides. On the flip side of this romantic vision we find the less desirable aspects of freelancing. Other than the obvious concern of not drawing a steady paycheck, there are things about freelancing, especially as a creative, that are inconvenient.We don’t always notice these until we’re made the leap into independence, and they surprise us. Even so, the rewards of flexibility, freedom and self-determination balance or exceed these difficulties, making the inconveniences more than worth it.
The mindset you need is to recognize inconveniences and transform them into opportunities to thrive in your creative business.
These are my top five inconveniences most freelancers experience:
1) You’re on your own.
While working solo seems obvious, we don’t often consider what that means and how it plays out day to day.
You have no fallback position. There is no one to cover for you. Your mistakes are all your own.
Creatives who love teamwork and collaboration may find themselves isolated and cut off, starved for people they can bounce around ideas with.
One way to address this inconvenience is to build a network of peers. Join a professional association. Get together regularly for mutual support.
A prime way to find peers is through a mastermind group. Are you aware than Freelance Road Trip has a 90-day small group mastermind? It’s your opportunity to gather regularly (and virtually) with fellow freelancers to share ideas, hold each other accountable, and support each other.
Be sure to connect with people who are farther down the road than you are. Anyone who’s ahead of you on the freelance journey and is experiencing success can share their experiences and how they’ve solved problems you’re facing.
Seek wise counsel for important decisions (wise being the operative word here.) That means you should look outside the freelance realm into business, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Books are a sure way to gain wisdom. Articles, podcasts, and videos are also good options. But don’t neglect your reading list.
If you know someone who has built a successful business, invite them for coffee and ask a lot of questions about the inconveniences they encountered and how they overcame them.
2) You’re self-determined.
Self-determination seems like a positive more than a negative, but it has it’s demerits. You are entirely responsible for the actions you take, the goals you set, and how you manage your time and money. You need to be self-motived and self-disciplined. This may be a problem for you if you’re used to team leaders, art directors or managers telling you what to work on, when to work, and how to work.
Moving directly from school to freelance work, or from employment into independence is a huge change.
Solve this problem by taking a look at your life goals, personally and professionally. Write them down and give them a timeline.
Identify your values and write them down. Decide what kind of work you want to create, who needs it, and who is willing to pay for it.
Look at what successful freelancers do who serve the same markets you want to serve (your competitors). Consider them as resources to learn from, not as your competition.
Being self-determined means, among other things, that you determine how your freelance business operates and who you serve with the work you create.
3) You have to earn respect as a legitimate business.
This is a tough one, and it’s not about clients respecting you as a professional peer. It’s more about how you’re regarded by banks, landlords, credit card companies and insurance companies.
When you are self-employed, it is not that easy to acquire necessary funding for your business. You will need to do more to prove your worth and trustworthiness than if you are on salary.
This is not insurmountable, but it does require you to be faithful to pay your bills and to be able to prove that you are faithful by providing requested documentation.
It also requires you to have a legal business structure in place: a DBA filing, an LLC, a corporation, appropriate business licenses, separation of business and personal financial accounts, and a method of accounting and bookkeeping.
You’ll have to go above and beyond in proving you have a profit motive.
4) Everything changes all the time and you have to keep up.
To re-state the obvious, technologies are constantly changing. It’s necessary, as part of your self-determination, to understand the times and seasons, and roll with them.
Recognizing when you need training, software updates, computer upgrades, new marketing and networking methods, new goals, is crucial to your long-term success as a freelancer.
Artificial intelligence, although it’s been around for awhile, has now emerged full force. Businesses, marketers, and creators are looking at how to take advantage of the technology, and ascertaining where it will go.
On another note, maybe you need to reposition from full-time client-based work into licensing and product development, or into content creation to diversify your income. The manner in which you market needs to evolve according to the trends in social media, available technology, how your clients use their devices, and where they spend their time. Address these concerns by regularly investigating what’s going on in the world and in your professional field. Become a trend-watcher. Attentively observe and revise your business and marketing strategies. Become comfortable with change.
5) You’ll spend more time taking care of business than actually creating.
This is a fact. In order to reach prospective clients, accept projects and follow through, you need to take care of business — your business.
Most independent professionals will admit that they spend close to 70% of their time working on their business: Planning, marketing, communicating, bookkeeping, paying bills, invoicing, and such. I
As a freelance creative you are a business manager, a marketer, a visionary, a provider of tech support, and housekeeper (keeping your studio or office clean and organized).
You also need to manage your money well. While freelance income may ebb and flow, bills, rent and utilities remain constant.
Help yourself out by out-sourcing some tasks, setting up systems, and planning your time in advance.
If you are not able to engage the help of a virtual assistant, schedule blocks of interrupted time each week and each month (based on the task) to work on your business.
What can you automate with software and apps? Invoicing, time tracking (if you bill hourly), marketing and email communications are some tasks that can be easily automated.
Learn to time block and batch your activities to make the most of your days.
Identify what activities and events you can postpone or delete from your calendar to make room to work on your business. Eliminate things that distract or that eat up your time (how much time do you spend scrolling on social media that you can spend on your business?).
© Alvalyn Lundgren. All rights reserved.