A few months ago, I decided to officially go freelance. It made sense. I was doing the odd graphic design jobs for other people, I could work around my family and university and have so much more freedom when it came to who I wanted to work with. While I’ve only been doing it properly for a short while, I’ve learned so much over the last few months, so I though that I’d share a few of my most valuable lessons with you.
- Stay organised and have a process! This is so important. You may have a lot of work on (like I do) and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed. When you work for yourself, you’re responsible for you own income, setting your own deadlines etc. Make sure you stay on top of everything. If you’re working on multiple projects create a time table to allocate time to each one. Make sure any documents you need are put in their own folders so you can easily find everything. Also, it’s best to keep your clients in the loop with how you’re progressing. Some may not be in a hurry so will be flexible with you… others may need things finishing quickly. Prioritise according to deadlines so that everyone is happy. I usually try to quote four weeks for a full website, sometimes it may take a little longer depending on certain aspects. Be clear so that everyone is happy and you don’t get flustered.
- Change your scenery. One of the things I love the most about working for yourself is that you can pretty much work from anywhere. I’m sure that this doesn’t apply if you’re physically making things, but for admin, design work, editing etc. Pretty much anything that can be done on a laptop can be done anywhere. It breaks up the monotony of things because it’s all to easy to spend your days in your pyjamas working in the same workspace… and after a while things can get pretty lonely. I love meeting up with some of my other freelancer friends and having little work dates in coffee shops. It’s gives us a good chance to share any news or tips we have, plus if there’s anything we’re struggling with, sometimes a fresh set of eyes can be a great help.
- Network. Working for yourself can get lonely… plus you can’t always rely on Google if you need help. It’s always good to have a tribe who do similar work so that if you ever need help and advice, or even to recommend work to if something isn’t right for you or you have too much work on at the moment.
- Ask for your worth. When you’re starting out it’s all too easy to think that you need to take on everything offered to you. Even if the price isn’t right. Think about how long a job is going to take and if you need to purchase anything to make the job easier… then bill accordingly. If you undervalue yourself, your clients will too. Don’t be afraid to charge a lot of money for your services. You’re the expert after all. Remember that you have to make a living.
- Invest in good tech. Having a great laptop or desktop computer is invaluable. After all, they’re the tools of your trade. You wouldn’t trust a plumber with a broken wrench would you? Make sure you have reliable hard drives to back up your work (I learned that lesson the hard way recently) and invest in software that will make your life easier. I’m loving the Dell XPS 15 laptop. It’s robust, looks really sleek and has a great screen resolution. Perfect for designers, photographers, Virtual Assistants… or just for playing games. Well, we all have to take a break some time.
I hope these tips help you if you’re about to embark on your freelance journey. If you have any tips yourself, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
This post has been a collaboration with Dell Laptops, but all thoughts are my own