The following post is featured courtesy of WeBlogNorth Featured Content Creator of the Week, Katie Portman. It originally featured on her own blog, Pouting in Heels.
Katie shares some top advice for new freelancers. Whether you dream of working for yourself or have just started out on this crazy career path, Katie has a ton of tips here to reassure you, keep you sane and most of all, encourage you to bloody enjoy it! We completely agree with everything she says (the thing about relatives nipping round...)
Katie has also published a BOOK this week: "A Little Pick Me Up" - order your copy here.
Enjoy this read!
- Kat x
MY BEST ADVICE FOR NEW FREELANCERS
Last week my husband sent me a text. (Nothing unusual there.)
However, what he sent me was a photograph that reminded me just how far I’ve come over the past eight years as a freelancer/self-employed human being.
The photograph was of the good luck message that he’d written in a card for me, the very day that I had handed in my notice as a marketing manager to go self-employed and it was a timely reminder of that gigantic leap of faith I took nearly a decade ago.
I’ll save all the cliches about how fast time has gone from that very moment up until now, but what I would like to share with you are some bits of advice. Things that I would happily (and often do) say to anyone who is seriously considering leaving employment to become their own boss.
I really hope if you’re considering taking the jump, that they will help you on your way, because hand on heart, I’d recommend self-employment to anyone who has the stomach for it. For me, besides starting this blog, it remains the very best career decision I have ever made.
(And it can be exactly the same for you too.)
IT’S NOT A DODDLE
This might not be what you wanted to read, straight off the bat, but I’m saying this first because it’s an important thing to understand.
Over the years I’ve lost track of the number of people who tell me how ‘lucky’ I am to work for myself or who expect my days to be filled with endless leisurely lunches and early finishes. There seems to be an idea out there that self-employment and in particular, freelancing, is super easy so I’m gonna burst in here and shatter that bubble right away because let me tell you, it’s not. Self-employment is wonderful and empowering and undoubtedly offers great freedom, but it is not easy.
Working for yourself requires a certain degree of courage as well as self-belief, determination, motivation and flexibility in spades. It really isn’t for the faint hearted but if you’re bold of heart and prepared to work your socks off, there’s every possible chance you’ll love it just as much as me.
IT’S ALWAYS ‘FEAST OR FAMINE’ (GENERALLY)
Somebody passed on this little nugget of wisdom to me when I started and I can remember raising my eyebrows when they said it, thinking surely this can’t be the case?
Turns out however that it’s true! (Or at least certainly for me.) There are exceptions to the rule of course but generally speaking if you work for yourself, you’ll find that work either floods in or it trickles. It’s never a steady flow.
Because of this, it’s a completely different way of working, living and dealing with finances which can take a while to get your head around. (I’d say a good 18 months plus really.) But once you do, you’ll soon find it easier to manage and will even be able to identify your own kind of feast or famine pattern which makes life a bit less tricky too.
IT WILL CHANGE YOU (FOR THE BETTER)
Want to grow as a human being and become a better, more rounded person not to mention professional? Then go and work for yourself.
Being self-employed has changed me so much as a person over the past eight years, highlighting my good bits and putting a mirror to the not so good. It’s forced me to dig deep, challenged me to try new things and learn new skills. It’s opened up all kinds of doors and introduced me to the kinds of opportunities I can only have dreamed of in my previous jobs.
It has in absolute seriousness (alongside motherhood), been the absolute making of me and it will be for you too if you give it the chance.
YOU WILL NEED DECENT PEOPLE AROUND YOU
If you want to survive the self-employed world, never mind thrive, then I cannot stress this point enough – you have to make sure you surround yourself with good people
So if you haven’t got inspiring, positive people in your life already, then go out and find some. Get yourself off to local networking events or seek people out on social media. Search for your people AKA your tribe and I guarantee you will find them.
However, don’t just limit yourself to people who do the same work as you. (Just a note on this – there’s nothing wrong at all with being friends with your competitors, however, do be careful.) Some of the best people I have met as a freelancer work in completely different fields to me yet can totally relate to my own daily freelancing struggles. They’ve also become genuine friends which is rather lovely too.
You must surround yourself with the best kind of people and if you don’t know what they look like, well think of the person you would love or are aiming to be and that will give you some idea.
Make sure you only ever share your experience and dreams with the right kind of people, those who want the best for you, those you find inspiring or those who will have something positive or supportive to say.
TIME IS EVERYTHING
Really, it is. When you work for yourself, every minute counts and if you want to make sure that your life has some kind of balance and that you’re not slaving away at all hours, then you have to get strict with your time because if you don’t, it will run away with you.
The whole point about working for yourself – or in my eyes anyway – is that it gives you freedom but you’ll only be able to reap the rewards of this if you’re careful with your time. This is particularly important if you work from home like me, too.
Use your time wisely and prioritise. Be strict with meetings (most can and should be much shorter than they are), stop procrastinating, keep emails short and to the point and don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked with things like social media.
Time is precious. Unlike money, you can never make more of it or get it back, so learn how to be time smart.
The final piece of advice on this topic. If you work from home, do not allow relatives and friends to just pop in on you or call you for a chat (which they will if you’re not careful.) Those who are not self-employed do not understand the time thing and will happily waste yours if you allow them to so discourage it from the start and if need be, ignore them or make it clear that you are working. They’ll soon get the hint.
YOU GOTTA TRY NEW THINGS
Always be open to suggestions and unusual work opportunities – this is so important – because you just never know where you might end up or what you might end up doing.
Some of the best jobs I’ve had have come totally out of the blue from the most unexpected places or clients. Honestly, if you’d told me when I’d first started freelancing, that one day I’d be earning my living from a blog or writing a book, I’d have roared with laughter and shook my head in disbelief. And yet, here I am.
Since being self-employed I’ve done a number of things which I never, ever would have thought possible or even considered doing! These include presenting in front of hundreds of people, running workshops, hosting events, creating video content, posing for the front cover of a national magazine and reviewing European holidays just to name a few. It’s been incredible and challenging in equal measure.
Life can open up in the most magical way if you remain open, interested and committed to trying new things so never say never.
Self-employment doesn’t just call for buckets of self-belief, it demands it. Continually.
So if you haven’t got belief in yourself or your own talents and capabilities, then trust me, no one else will have belief in you either.
When there’s no work coming in, you have to believe in yourself. When your client questions your work, you have to believe in yourself. When you’re worrying about your finances and how you’re going to pay your mortgage, you gotta believe in yourself.
Self-belief can waver, I know that only too well. But when your chips are down or even when they’re up, you have to have some decent level of self-belief if you’re going to survive working for yourself.
So find it, nurture it and hold onto it for dear life, because you’re going to need it more than you can possibly imagine.
SELF EMPLOYMENT IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT
And this my friends is the most beautiful thing of all.
As your own boss, you get to choose everything. I repeat, EVERYTHING!
You determine how your career and business looks. You get to choose your own work-life balance. You get to say who you work with, when you’ll work and how much you charge. You get to choose where you work and even what you wear for work. You get to open new doors or close and bolt some behind you.
Get the picture?
When you work for yourself, every single ball is in your self employed court so play with them as you so wish! Make up your own rules. Have your own standards. Be creative. Dare yourself to do different things. Aim high and higher than you have before. Be sensible but also have fun!
The career or business you dream off is yours for the taking if you’re brave enough to give it a go. (Best of luck.)