I remember what it was like to feel trapped in my 9-5 job, dreaming of quitting and starting my own business.
I'd vigorously follow the blogs of freelancers I loved, sneaking off into the staff room to read their latest posts on my phone.
I'd admire the pretty workspaces these freelancers all seemed to have. You know the ones: the shiny white desks adorned with MacBook Pros and Day Designers.
I could not WAIT to work from my very own little workspace. I couldn't WAIT to taste the freedom that went along with being my own boss.
Years later, I'm happy to say that I AM one of those women with their MacBooks and their home office. I wake up every day feeling proud of myself, because even though I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, I managed to get this business thing right. I made my dream of being self-employed a reality.
It took a LOT of hard work and experimenting to get to this stage. In fact, freelancing is one big fat experiment! It's a journey, and along the way you inevitably take a few wrong turns.
I wish someone had sat me down and told me what to avoid before I'd started freelancing- like a driver being given directions before taking a journey they've never been on before. That's why I'm writing this today and sharing what I've learned during my 3 years of freelancing full-time. Hopefully, you can learn from my journey!
10 things I've learned from 3 years of full-time freelancing.
1. Make friends. There are so many benefits from making friends in your niche: you'll always have someone to talk to online, you'll have friends to get feedback from, and your friends will probably refer work to you! In the world of freelancing, making friends is amazing for business.
2. Keep your business simple. When I first started freelancing, I overcomplicated my business with formal business plans and expensive software that I didn't need. It was only in my second year of freelancing that I realized my biggest priority: to keep things simple. When business is simple, it becomes easy and fun. And when it's fun, it becomes easier to make more money!
3. Make passive income. When you ONLY earn money through your services, you limit how much money you can make per month because you only have so much time. When you sell products, you not only earn money in your sleep and get to help more people, but you look really experienced and professional! Try and make passive income as soon as you can. I left it years, but I'm glad I'm starting to make passive income now.
4. Plan, plan, plan. But don't make formal, complicated plans. Unless you're planning on applying for a loan or something, no one is going to see your business plan but you. So make it simple and fun! Use Lisa's template to help you out.
5. Start a newsletter. I didn't send many newsletters out until this year, which was a BIG mistake. Now that I have, I've seen how much my newsletters boost my website traffic! I've even booked a client who read one of my newsletters and responded saying she wanted to work with me.
6. Enjoy what you're doing, or stop. If you hate a certain part of your business then change it or stop it. Last year I grew to hate designing custom websites, so this year I stopped offering custom sites and replaced it with my Theme Setup package. Now I'm a lot happier and less stressed!
7. Don't let your business take over your life. It's really easy to stay up late working, but it's not healthy. I finish work at 5:30PM everyday like I would at a normal job and I use Inbox Pause to stop all emails from coming through until the next morning.
8. Always book clients a few months ahead. When you're booked in advance, you stress less about paying your bills. But how do you get booked out like that? Here's how: never stop marketing. Even if I'm booked up for the next three months, I keep marketing. That way, I will hopefully never lack clients.
9. Seek advice. When I started out, I felt too shy to ask established freelancers for help. But I soon got over it and started asking. Here's the trick: don't demand advice, and don't ask too many questions. Ask your favorite freelancer one question and allow them time to reply.
10. Have a hobby. When I started freelancing, I swiftly realized that all I ever did was work. I needed something else to take my mind off work, so I read more books and took up photography! It's refreshing and healthy to have something else to do that is still a creative outlet.
If you only take ONE point away from that list of 10, let it be the first one.
Make friends in your niche.
If I hadn't made friends early on in my freelancing career, I would probably have quit by now. Why? Because most of my clients have come from referrals from other designers, from my clients, and from my online friends. My friends have helped me succeed at freelancing!
If you would like to connect with more freelancers and learn how to create a thriving freelance business then I encourage you to sign up for more info about my Shelancers Club. (Seriously, it's gonna rock!)
Shelancers is going to be a series of once-a-month classes taught by myself and your favorite freelancers. Each class is based on one area of freelancing and is filled with advice, interviews, worksheets and challenges.
The best part? You won't be going through these freelance lessons alone. You'll have access to a private community of Shelancers! Sign up to hear about the launch before anyone else.