When I first started freelancing, I was nervous about what the outcome would be but also hopeful that things would work out for me. I dived straight into working, and created hundreds of documents containing potential blog posts and particular article topics, hoping that I could schedule them to my blog and immediately attract potential employers. I hope they’d ask me to write all about these topics, but it didn’t really work out that way. Sometimes you can end up getting stuck, and needing to be a little more flexible and take the long way around. I’ve listed some of the problems I’ve faced as a freelancer below, with the hope that it will help you overcome them.
It takes time to set up
When I first started my freelancing career, I was so excited. But much to my disappointment, I struggled to get clients for a long time. I had a really unrealistic idea that as soon as my business was set up, clients would be coming in left, right and centre, adding to my income and it would all be alright. This was a naïve thing to think, especially when I knew nothing about running a business. I knew how to write, but not how to advertise my skills or market myself. As I slowly but surely gained experience, I learned a ton about diving into business.
Don’t become discouraged if you’ve been at it for a long time and are seeing little success. On average, it takes a good three years to build a wholesome business, so take that time and utilise it carefully.
You need a support network
It’s difficult to start a freelancing career all alone, but I originally thought I could. Everyone and anyone who was doing something remotely related to my own work became my competition.
One of the other mistakes I’ve made is thinking I could do this ‘freelancing thing’ all alone. In fact, I used to see everyone as my competition. If anyone was doing it better than me, it would send me spiralling into negativity and ready to give up. I thought knowing how to write well was enough to build connections with editors and be successful.
But the best way to succeed in your freelancing business is with the help of others. I have since came into contact with amazing Facebook communities that have landed me guest posts and clients, who have then become my friends. It is also beneficial to sign up to Webinars where you meet other writers and bloggers who can teach you the knowledge your missing. You can also work with a coach who will help you get your business up and running. My business for my freelancing writing and blogging career only started to expand when I stopped blocking out other people and allowed them to support me. You should embrace communities and support one another.
Your family and friends are likely to minimalise your work
Of course, when you’re working as a freelancer, you will spend a lot of your time on your computer, and this is often difficult to justify as “working” to your family and friends. I remember visiting my family and telling them I’d been working and their response was “Oh, are you back at ASDA then?” and became confused when I explained that I’d spent a whole five days writing articles and optimising my blog. It hurts a little to have your hard work minimalised, but if people aren’t in the field themselves, it’s hard for them to understand how much work really goes in to writing!
Another problem I faced from my family and friends was the assumption that just because I was working from home all day, I could come over and visit or go out for the day. Trying to explain that you are working sounds to them like you’re just blowing them off, but in reality you’re just trying to battle through your workload!
It still hasn’t got through to my friends and family that when I’m at home, I am still working. It will probably take a while before it sticks with them. Even now, I get job openings for retail sent through by relatives who don’t understand that I’m actually employed, or regularly request visits just because they know I’m home alone.
The only thing that helps here is to explain what it is you do to them (no matter how many times you have to repeat yourself). Stick to your working hours and time off so that they’ll know what to expect. Stand your ground and make sure people know you’re working hard and can’t make plans!
Planning is essential
You need a business plan. I always thought this was a waste of time, but it’s not. You need to know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and most importantly: for whom you’re doing it. Seriously, if there’s one thing I would tell that naive girl it’s to make a good solid plan. Decide what it is you’re going to do, set very clear goals and time limits to do them in, and then go and do it. If you have a solid plan, it’s a lot easier to translate into a plan of action.
Working from home can be distracting
Laundry, washing up, shopping, Netflix, bed, colouring books, books in general, your phone, working out – all these things will call to you when you’re at home behind your laptop trying to get some work done. It’s so easy to just get up and chat to someone on the phone, or start looking on ASOS. But when you have a few hours to get some work done, this can add up pretty quickly to a massive amount of lost time.
If you really do need to get these things done, set aside some time for these things during your lunch break, or after your working hours. It’s a great excuse to get up and move about and it won’t take away your working hours.
You will work some crazy hours
Sometimes you really need to get things done. Maybe you’re going away soon, or maybe you’re launching your course this week, whatever the reasons, sometimes things take more time than anticipated. That’s ok. We all have those days. There really will be times where you have to bust your butt off to get things done. An occupational hazard so to speak. Just make sure this won’t happen every night, every week. Because if it does, maybe it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. So, get the work done, but don’t overwork yourself. Be kind to yourself.
Being flexible is absolutely key to growing your business. Working as a freelancer means you’ll deal with different time zones, changing needs of your time zones, and adapting to a heavy work load. Be as flexible as possible so that you can grow along with your business.
You can read all of my published work here
And you can read information about hiring me for freelance work here