I can’t believe it’s now been almost one whole year since I decided to go freelance. The time has absolutely flown by and my life looks a lot different to how it did this time last year. I’ve always been honest with my transition from full-time office worker to self-employed, it was hard! The first few months I felt anxious, insecure and worried about the future, which to be honest, is quite unlike me. I’m usually a ‘see how it goes’ positive person but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take me time to adjust to a brand new lifestyle.
Freelancing is often glamourised on social media, and it seems everyone is quitting their jobs these days or thinking that they should. I don’t think this lifestyle is for everyone, and it definitely isn’t as glamorous as can be made out on Instagram. There’s highs, lows, and unpaid invoices to content with. Now that I’ve been freelancing for one year I felt that I’m in a good place to share with you what I’ve learnt so far on this rollercoaster journey…
Adjustment doesn’t happen overnight
In all honesty, I thought I’d be skipping around coffee shops and enjoying leisurely lie-ins from day one, ha ha. The reality looked a lot different to this, and was more a case of me sitting at home in my sweatpants asking myself the same questions over and over again. I felt guilty for not being at work, I felt like a naughty schoolchild who was bunking off for the day. It was a strange period of time but it didn’t last forever and I started to build my confidence and settle into a new routine which I now love. Some days I won’t get up until 9, but some days I’ll be working until 1am, it’s hard to shake the 9-5 routine at first but trust me, it gets easier.
Don’t live in sweats (well, not all the time)
I learnt pretty quickly that wearing sweats everyday makes me prepared to sit and watch Friends…but little else. I find that actually dressing for the day increases my productivity. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll never find me wearing a suit or any sort of formal dress! Of course, I still have those days where I slip into a pair of gym sharks with no intention of exercising but generally I’ll wear something like a floaty midi dress that’s still comfortable but less loungewear!
Co-work with other freelancers
I generally don’t mind my own company, I don’t necessarily feel the need to always be with other people and I can quite happily spend a few days on my own. That being said, I don’t think this is particularly healthy and going a whole working with just the company of my bunnies (they’re great, but not much chat) can be isolating. Teaming up with other freelancers, researching co-working spaces or just heading to a cafe to work can make a world of difference. I’ve recently teamed up with a fellow freelance and it’s so lovely to have company to chat, discuss ideas and make your own little team.
Know your worth then add tax
When I first went freelance I took jobs on that in hindsight I shouldn’t have because quite frankly, the pay was too low. I don’t regret it as such as it was a learning curve, but back then I was new to the freelancing game and concerned that I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills! It’s important that you don’t undervalue yourself, know your worth! If a potential client really wants to work with you, they’ll pay. Don’t forget when quoting to account for tax too, otherwise you’ll have a nasty surprise when your tax bill arrives and you’ve been undercharging for your services.
Have a financial buffer
I’ve been lucky enough to keep financially afloat and stable during my first year of freelancing, but it has always been in the back of my mind that dry months might occur. More than anything, for me personally, having a financial buffer is for peace of mind. Knowing that I’ve got back-up funds for any slow months means I can focus more on work and less on panicking! I try and tuck money away here and there into my savings to build up a solid buffer. This way, if any clients were to cancel services, I’m secure to an extent and it gives me time and breathing space to try and replace with a new client.
Are you a freelancer? What lessons have you learned from freelancing?