The freelance world is enticing because it comes with it’s own romantic notion of freedom and courage. Freedom because you are no longer expected to wake up every morning, get dressed and go someplace to work. Mondays are no longer associated with a strange feeling in the pit of your stomach as you brush your teeth. Instead now, you get to choose your hours of work and have the option to walk around in you pajamas all day (if that’s your thing!). Plus, if you don’t have a deadline coming up, you can spend all of Monday curled up in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and a book. You may even go to a park or your favorite cafe, and no one will give you any grief for it.
In short, nobody owns your time any more. All this freedom takes some getting used to, but if you’re the type of person who is good at working independently, rather choose to work independently because too much talk bothers you, freelance is the right decision for you.
For many, who cling on to the idea of security, the freelance world can be a scary place to enter. They may even do everything they can to talk you out of it. They’re not doing it out of some malicious intent, but genuine concern. Concern about how you’re going to get new writing assignments, how you’ll pay your bills, and if you even have the discipline to work from home instead of binge watching How I Met Your Mother all day. These are valid concerns and something you must think about before you say two of the most beautiful sounding words in the English language: I Quit.
Money: Say goodbye to a regular paycheck at the end of each month, even if you spent less time working and more time checking Facebook and Twitter at work. Now, you only get paid for the work you do, which means you’ll have to work a lot harder. Also, don’t rely on any one client too much. There’s a reason they’ve hired a freelancer, and they can pull the plug on you any minute so keep some money saved up (especially if you have rent to pay & food to buy). We can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to save money because depending on the volume of work you get, you may end up making 60K one month and 5K the next so you need to learn how to manage your money well. Finally, be very clear about payments with clients. Ask for a 50% advance, get all communication on paper/ email and never, ever, do any work for free. This is not a hobby, it’s your way of making a living. Please, remember that.
Time: Don’t wait for the last day to start working on that article you had five days to finish. Don’t go asking for a few more days. Start working on it as you get it. Because you are your only boss now, and even if, you’re tempted to watch that one last movie before you get on with the work, kill the urge and sit down to work. You will only build your credibility if you do decent work and more importantly, deliver it on time. Plus, if you have your own book to finish, get ready to write for money during the day and for yourself all through the night. Prepare to rough it out because it’s not going to be easy.
Don’t Become A Hermit: It’s nearly six on a summer evening and you still haven’t had a bath. You live alone, cook, do the dishes and the cleaning yourself (to save money, of course). And you haven’t left the house in over three days. You can’t remember what day of the week it is and you’ve been staring at your computer screen for hours. When that happens (and it will), shut your laptop, go take a shower and go out for a long walk. If possible, even meet a friend for a quick cup of coffee or make a plan to get dinner. There’s a reason human interaction is important and you’ve got to remember that.
Ability To Multitask: You may write about food in the morning, technology in the afternoon and perhaps, fashion in the evening. Learn to switch from one tone and manner of writing to the other. Actually, with time, this will seem effortless, and you will learn to write about pretty much anything. Think of all this work as training. The more you train, the better you get and in the process, build yourself a killer portfolio. So get out there and write. Write, because it’s the only thing that makes sense.