Freelancing sounds so glamorous. Freedom. What could be better, right? As a freelancer, your time belongs to you. That’s a huge responsibility. You’re all alone out there. You’re always on the clock. There’s nobody to complain to about the crummy snack selection in the break room (i.e. your kitchen).
But freelancing can be awesome, especially if you like being alone, working on your own time, and scarfing last night’s meatloaf on your snack break. Still, there are some things you should know before making the leap into professional independence.
Get Busy or Get Broke
You control your own earning potential. The sky’s the limit. Work hard, exceed client expectations, and squeeze maximum productivity out of every day. Do this and there is no ceiling to what you can make.
Of course, there is no floor either. Every minute you spend napping, talking to your cat, or binge-watching Russian traffic accidents on YouTube is a minute that you aren’t doing billable work. Make every hour count, stay ahead of your deadlines, and remember that freelancers don’t get paid for vacation time.
ABC—Always Be Connecting
Building stable client relationships is essential. Always be available, always be flexible, always be easy to work with. Pounce on new projects. Say yes to pretty much anything (within the limits of decency). If you’re not sure how to do it, say yes anyway, then figure it out. And stay familiar. Check in regularly without being annoying. Keep up the good work and deliver on your promises. Your clients will think of you first when the next project rolls around.
It’s just you out there. You are management and labor. You are customer service, accounts receivable and collections. You do all the things. Learn how to invoice, deduct expenses on your taxes, and spring for some halfway decent coffee.
Most importantly, be always on the lookout for your next gig. Keep your ear to the ground, your nose the grindstone, and your eyes on the prize. But keep your hands to yourself (after all, you’re also the HR Department).