As a member of Leah Kalamakis’ Freelance to Freedom Project Community, I was prompted to consider the reasons why I freelance, and make some suggestions as to how you too can kick start your freelance career and potentially freelance to freedom.
Originally, I began freelancing strictly to have an extra revenue stream and, specifically, to pay off my undergraduate debt. My freelancing wasn’t very pointed and I used popular freelancing sites to find odd jobs (proofreading, editing, transcribing…groan). While I was able to secure several fantastic clients, I often considered myself as selling out in that the content sometimes wasn’t my finest moment, ethically, and I knew that the work I was doing was a means to an end. Once I was able to pay off the remainder of my student debt, I very quickly took a year hiatus. After working full-time at my regular job, full-time freelancing, and going to school as a full-time graduate student, I was BURNT OUT. I needed to take some time to refocus myself and realize that I didn’t need this added income to sustain my lifestyle.
During this freelance hiatus, we were able to save a large amount of money in a very small amount of time and purchase our first home. Achieving this goal really made me realize that we were in a great financial state. However, once I finished my graduate degree this past May, I quickly began to grow bored and stagnate within my role. I love my job, but it’s been a labour of love and has been very one-sided. Long after considering this, I realized that I needed to be the change – If I wanted to take control of my career, I really needed to get in the drivers seat and let go of my anxieties in order to be successful.
So, what did I do?
I made the decision to think strategically about my potential business. I did this by reading a lot of books (Do Cool Sh*t,Creative, Inc., My So-Called Freelance Life, The Anti 9 to 5 Guide, Daring Greatly, and The Power of Habit – *I am in no way affiliated with any of these books, but they’re all awesome reads, so I highly recommend them!*) I made other freelance friends and observed what they were doing, I bid on projects that I was actually interested in working on, and I gained some stellar clients in industries I only dreamt of being a part of.
After awhile, I began taking more calculated risks by applying for part-time positions, asking my full-time employer about flex scheduling and the potential of moving from full-time to contract (meaning a loss of hours, consistency, and health/dental benefits). I didn’t let my previous anxieties get the best of me – a year ago, I would have cowered at the thought of asking my boss to reduce my scheduling hours, thinking they would fire me. Instead, I was met with a fairly positive outcome, and currently split my time between two roles that I love.
Most recently, I enlisted the help of Kory to get my website up and running. I had been sitting on doing this for far too long and it was just something that desperately needed to get done, and I registered (last minute) for Marie Forleo’s B-School. I’ll write about my impressions and experiences of B-School later, but I’m excited for it to begin!
Where am I going from here?
My long-term goal is to begin securing contracts and shift my freelancing/independent contractor-ship to a full-time commitment. This may be a goal that is closer than it seems right now, but I’m patient. Until then, I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing, and remain strategic in my approach for engaging in and soliciting new work. It’s my hope that B-School will help tremendously with ironing out all of the administrative issues with my business that I’ve been avoiding, allowing me to have a narrow, but sustainable, business focus.
What advice do I have for you?
My advice is simple – just go for it! But you should be organized and calculated about going for it. Most businesses begin before they were ready, and my business is no different. My only real words of wisdom is to do a lot of research and make some financial plans, such as saving up a reserve fund in the event that everything goes south and you need to float yourself financially for a little while (instead of ignoring the fact that finances are a part of daily life).
Did anyone find this helpful? If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I’m always learning and improving, but I’m happy to help out where I can!