Holy shit – in September, I’ll have been doing this whole freelance malarky for a whole year. A YEAR. I don’t care how cliche it is, time really does fly.
Since deciding to work for myself, the road has not been an easy one to travel. There have been many tears from stress, frustration and worry but y’know what? It’s worth it.
From time to time I reflect on being a self-employed person, and I think of how lucky I am. But then I give myself a mental slap in the face. I’m not lucky. I have worked really hard to get where I am now and I know I have a long way to go and this experience will be one that teaches me something new every day.
When I first started working for myself, there are a lot of things that I wish I had known were ahead of me. There were also some things that I expected to happen that “came true” pretty quickly (like lol I made no money this month).
- You’ll change your mind roughly 829572938 times about every aspect of your business. From the look of your website through to your actual service offering, those changes are often due to a lack of conviction…but it will pass.
- Stationary shopping will get exciting again – you’ll suddenly feel the need to have all the notebooks, a weekly desk planner pad, a bunch of pens and lots of random other bits you’ll use once and then forget about because laptops are a thing.
- You’ll rejoice at how much your petrol consumption is reduced because you don’t have to commute every day anymore…but when you do have to fill up, it will feel like hell because you don’t realise how truly expensive petrol is until your income is no longer regular.
- The set up of your “office” may inspire some serious Pinterest-activity, but the reality is you’ll set up a desk and chair in your spare room and it will be plenty to start with.
- You’ll become mildly obsessed with finding out what you can claim as a business expense. You’ll be disappointed that you can’t claim gym memberships, clothes shopping or Ben & Jerry’s. The tax man ain’t buying that the Phish Food was for “entertaining a client”.
- Online tools will be your saviour. Especially free/low-cost ones. I use Wave for my invoices and logging receipts (which is free and wonderful), and Capsule CRM for my client management which is also free and wonderful.
- Networking will seem bloody terrifying at first, but once you’ve been to a few different events you’ll find what works for you. You’ll also enjoy the social aspect of it, in time.
- Through your local networking, at least one MLM (multi-level marketing) consultant will try to poach you. Yep, it happened to me. A seemingly innocent coffee turned into a sales pitch to join a well-known MLM. MLM’s, in my view, are the devil and a way of making vulnerable people invest a lot of money in something that’s hard to build an income from.
- Cafes with free wifi will become your temporary office. Working from home is great, but you will crave the buzz of a coffee shop and y’know, being around other humans. I aim to work away from home 1-2 times a week to combat the crippling loneliness of working from home every day.
- You’ll manage to stay on top of your laundry and wonder how you ever managed to have clean clothes before you were working from home.
- You *might* get a bit more chatty with strangers when you’re out and about – it’s been a few days since you spoke to anyone else and you’re craving human interaction that goes beyond emailing back and forth with a client.
- No matter how many projects you work on, you will still get nervous when you send work off to a client for feedback. I’ve read blogs from freelancers that have been doing it for years and that feeling apparently doesn’t go away!
- Facebook Group members will be your new colleagues. Just be wary that when you post a question/problem, that everyone has an opinion and not all of them will be useful to you. A particularly supportive and fab Facebook Group which is free of ego and mansplaining is Freelance Heroes.
- Ideas, inspiration or just a reminder will pop into your head at 11pm on a Friday night because you don’t really ever properly shut off when you work for yourself. However, don’t be tempted to sacrifice your personal life for work – you can always email yourself or block out time in your calendar to work on something later!
- You will feel guilty if you get poorly and need to take time off. But you’re also more likely to recover much faster because you can take the time to rest and recuperate. This is much harder when you work for an employer because of the fear of repercussion.
- You may try and stick to the “traditional” working hours of 9-5, but it won’t take you too long to figure out that those hours aren’t necessarily your most productive ones. I’m an early bird, so I can happily start work at 7:30am. Some days, I may only work 4 hours but get absolutely loads done and that’s OK. You’ll figure out your routine, and it may even change from time to time!
- You *might* gain a bit of weight. I sure have. When you work at home, you sometimes forget to y’know, move about a bit. When I have meetings in a cafe in town, I’ll decide to walk in to get some exercise – and I try to go to the gym twice a week, but I also eat a lot more crap at home sooo…*shrug emoji*
- Being your own boss is ace, but you’ll have to get used to wearing ALL OF THE HATS. Not literally of course, but you’ll be responsible for work output, marketing, admin and so many other glorious aspects of being a business owner. Full disclaimer: they are not all glorious.
- People will expect you to work for free/give free advice. Please do not give in to these people. Give enough value to entice them to buy from you, but don’t feel like you need to sell yourself short. Finding this balance is tough, and I still get it wrong sometimes and give too much away for free, but if you don’t value what you’re worth then your potential clients won’t either.
- You’ll regularly debate with yourself whether you are charging the right amount for your product/service. When a client signs off a project cost straight away you’ll wonder if you’re too cheap, if someone says they can’t afford you you’ll wonder if you’re too expensive. But it will click into place and you’ll figure out the right pricing structure for you that aligns with your target customers…and then as you gain more experience you’ll gain the confidence to raise those rates, too!
- You will start to say no to things. The temptation is to say yes to every project that comes your way, but really consider whether the project is right for you and where you want your business to go. Say yes to some things that aren’t quite right but will help get some portfolio work under your belt, but don’t push yourself to take on projects that will make you unhappy/stressed.