The current state of the economy is not very promising and if, like me, you’re not willing to resort to desperate measures to make ends meet or “urgent 2k”, freelancing could be a viable option to consider. Freelancing means freedom – to a large extent – and freedom, as they say, comes at a cost. For freelancers, that cost can be an emotional rollercoaster ride, inconsistent income and a never-ending influx of client emails. Having been a freelancer for almost four years now, I can attest that the experience is as breathtaking as it is challenging. Nonetheless, the lessons learned along the way are invaluable. Let me share some of the most significant ones.
Handle your freedom skillfully
As a freelancer, you have the freedom to wake up at any time without setting an alarm or being at work at a specific time. You also get to work in comfortable clothing without the compulsion to dress a certain way. You can choose the projects you want to work on, set your rates, and mould your career according to your values. Being a freelancer also gives you the flexibility to travel the world and work from anywhere, or take a break in the middle of the day for a spontaneous picnic. However, this freedom also comes with some challenges like working late into the night to meet deadlines and dealing with the uncertainty of an unpredictable income. To succeed as a freelancer, you need to learn to handle the freedom skillfully.
Learn to discipline yourself
Since you don’t have anyone to compel you to work, you become your boss and answer to yourself – and your clients as well. Hence, you have to master self-discipline. Set clear boundaries between work and life, create routines that keep you accountable, and learn to say no to projects that do not align with your goals or budget. Remember, freedom without discipline is just chaos in comfy clothes.
Networking is essential
The myth of the lone wolf freelancer holed up in a hut somewhere making creative magic is just what it is – a myth. Building a strong network is your lifeline to clients, collaborations, and prosperity. Nurture relationships with former colleagues, connect with fellow freelancers in online communities and attend industry events. Be generous with your knowledge, offer help without expecting anything in return, and watch your network become your safety net when the freelance waves get rough.
Shift mindset from “hustle” to “purpose”
The hustle culture of the freelance world can be seductive, but it’s a trap. Burning the midnight oil every night might land you a big project, but it won’t bring lasting fulfilment. Shift your mindset from endless grinding to purposeful pursuit. Define your “why,” align your projects with your values, and find joy in the journey, not just the destination. Remember, a sustainable and fulfilling freelance career is built on passion, not just caffeine and stress.
Self-care: Don’t forget to fill your cup before pouring for others
Freelancing can be all-consuming. Between chasing deadlines, pitching clients, and managing administrative tasks, self-care often gets relegated to the “to-do” list’s dusty corner. But listen, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Schedule time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Go for a run, meditate, connect with loved ones, and read a good book. Invest in your well-being, because a healthy and happy freelancer is a productive and successful one.
The freelancer’s life is a beautiful paradox; it is challenging and rewarding, unpredictable yet empowering. It’s a journey of self-discovery, a constant dance between freedom and responsibility. But trust me, the resilience you build, the creativity you unleash, and the sense of self-reliance you cultivate will stay with you long after the feast-or-famine cycle settles.
Fellow freelancers, what are your biggest lessons learned from the freelance adventure? I’d like to read your comments.
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