Photo by creo que soy yo.
As you probably know freelance workers do much more tasks than just designing, writing or whatever it is you do to pay your bills.
So why spend time and energy sharing your knowledge?
These days altruism is not very common. We’re so stressed with our work that there’s little free time left, and we want to spend it on anything else.
But moreover, sharing what you know is risky. Someone could steal your ideas or your techniques. It’s even a little unfair! Why share what you learned by yourself, with so much effort and without help from anyone else? And what do you get in exchange? Isn’t it a risk for your business? Is it worth the effort?
Photo by striatic.
I’ve written numerous times about remote working, including how remote working works for freelancers and how freelancers can overcome the daily challenges of working remotely. In this post, I’ll be talking about how I’ve launched a web design studio remotely.
Why do it?
Us freelancers love working for ourselves. We like the thrills of deadlines and chasing work. A common problem we face is that our services are not always scalable, as many of us are billing by the hour and we can only ‘get out’ what we put in. By establishing a business, I can take on a managerial position and spend more time making important decisions than sweating hours–but only if that’s what I want.
There’s a nice balance here, as I can still do as much work as I like but I never feel I have to. It’s still a freelance arrangement, as all clients are remote and the business is a collection of freelance and part-time staff, but is managed in such a way that it provides 24 x 7 service. That’s the first lesson: you can continue to enjoy everything you love about freelancing if you establish your business with a freelance business model.
Photo by Vincent®.
I know everyone hates the term “pay your dues,” but sometimes that’s exactly what you’ve got to do.
Case in point: I got a cold-call from an aspiring copywriter a few days back, asking for advice. I put it on my list of people to respond to, but not very high. After all, I’ve got to cover my own butt, first, and I’ve been positively swamped with work. I planned to give her a buzz back within a few days. But later that night as I am cooking dinner, she calls back. Twice in the same day. (Not to mention, after hours.)
I’ll say it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not a good mentor. Not because I don’t have the expertise, but I don’t have the patience to offer one-on-one support to others. I do better writing about it for the masses. I’ve learned not to feel bad about this, because everyone has their talents and mine will probably never be mentoring. I help in other ways, by offering you witty posts with some valuable advice. And my incessant blabbing on Freelance Radio, which I am told is useful to many.
That said, I don’t mind giving advice to new freelancers. I think it helps all freelancers as part of this great big circle we’re in. Take advice from others, give back… that sort of thing. But I do think there’s a difference between getting pointed in the right direction, and just being lazy while expecting others to do the legwork for you.
Here are some ways you can get advice — without pushing the bar.
Photo by karindalziel.
You’ve surely heard the term GTD, aka Getting Things Done, coined by David Allen and spawning many dozens of desktop and web applications, not to mention some popular GTD websites. Some freelancers read or scan them religiously.
Personally, I can’t even get through the principles of GTD, let alone apply them. It seems like a ridiculously complex approach for something that could be so much simpler.
I’m not the first to say it, but I feel that GTD is too structured and too restrictive. For example: six levels of focus?! (Even this one-page short version of GTD seems too complex.) Consider that if you’re not getting something done, it’s probably due to one or more of the following reasons:
- Wanting to over-deliver and give clients a 110% effort and not knowing where to start.
- Feeling restricted from too much structured planning.
- Feeling overwhelmed from lack of any planning.
- Overbooking on client projects.
- Not really wanting to do it.
- Poor health, or personal/family distractions.
Out of these reasons, #6 is something that you’ll have to solve separately, and #4-5 are solved by saying “no”. Reasons #1-3 are the ones to watch for: these probably cause most procrastination because you don’t know how to start. These are resolved by taking a simpler starting approach: GTS. Continue Reading
Photo by Jenny Huang.
The idea of freelance writing had always been appealing to me. Although my background in fitness and nutrition prepared me more for personal contact. After a few years spent in the gyms and working in academia, I knew I wanted to help people, not one-on-one, but through my writing.
Unlike many there was no leap of faith involved in my decision to begin working towards my goal. To avoid missing a once in a lifetime opportunity, I left my office job and set off on an adventure to live abroad for a couple years due to an assignment with my husband’s employer. With the language barrier and those ever frustrating document issues, I had no plans to work in our new city. Fortunately, this gave me the perfect opportunity to launch my freelance writing career.
It took me a while to get my ducks in a row, toughen my skin and start tackling the process of learning about freelance writing and blogging. I never once thought it would be easy, but I also soon realized there was a lot I didn’t know.
These are some questions I ask myself on a daily basis and some answers I’ve come to discover through both my external research and that all-important internal reflection about my desire and will to write.
Photo by Stewart.
Let’s face it. Some freelancers don’t always want to be freelancing. Some want out. How about you? Is freelancing what you really want to be doing, long term? Is it a means to an end? Do you have something that you’re gearing up to do? Maybe you haven’t decided yet what comes after your freelance career.
If you have decided where you’re headed — whether it’s into freelancing, out of freelancing, or into a different type of freelancing — do you have a plan for your career transition? Even if you do, you know better than anyone how much time client work takes up, and how much “free time” is left over. You might feel confident that your next career will happen, but do you really have the time to make the switch, and do it properly?
The sum of those parts usually means that many freelancers do not follow their dreams. It’s been said many times before that if you’re sufficiently complacent in your life right now, you have little motive to change it (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). You’re not “hungry” enough. The spirit of your goal might stay with you, but it’ll never have form beyond that unless you “get hungry” and take action. However, that action doesn’t have to be painful, or rushed. Continue Reading
Photo by udono.
If you’d asked me on January 1st what my plans for this year were, the word “freelancer” wouldn’t have appeared.
No, I was going to launch a wildly successful weblog, make a fortune from Google AdSense, and sign a six-figure book deal…
…I’m not quite there yet.
But I have managed to arrive somewhere wholly unexpected. I’m earning money from staff-writing on two blogs, both major players in their niches (Diet Blog and Daily Writing Tips) and my own blog has a small but regular readership. I’ve made about $800 so far; not “quit the day job” money, yet, but enough to make me realize that freelance blogging could be a viable way to earn a living.
You might well have a blog, though perhaps it’s a personal one based around a hobby or passion, rather than a professional one. And since you’re reading this on Freelance Switch, I’m guessing you have some interest in freelancing. If you’ve read through the “Getting started” articles, if you spend hours staring at your cubicle walls and dreaming up your next blog post (or typing away on the sly), and if you’re waiting, waiting, waiting for that first job, first client, first check, you might be closer than you think. Here’s how to fall into freelance blogging by accident… Continue Reading
Photo by Powi
You know that commercial where the two girls sit around eating their yogurt and talking about how “it is sooo good?” Yeah, I hate that commercial.
But you know what? Freelancing in the U.S. economy has been good to me lately.
“It’s like, $4.00 a gallon gas good!”
“No, no, it’s like write-off your new laptop good.”
Kind of like that.
Thinking of making the freelance switch? Here are a couple reasons why you should buck up and go for it, recession and all. Continue Reading
Photo by adampiggott.
When I decided to start my freelance copywriting career months ago, one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was my lack of experience in the field I wanted to get into.
I decided to explore the idea of freelancing when several people from the office complimented my writing one after the other. My problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do exactly. Yes, it was going to involve writing of some sorts. I discovered I had a knack for words (my boss even trusted me to write a press release about a new product we were launching — not bad for someone 6 months out of university!) but I had never been specifically hired and paid by others just to “write stuff.”
The biggest question running in my head was: who the hell was I to be charging people for a bunch of words I put together?
Luckily, I managed to push through that hump. Within a month or so, I went from being clueless about freelance copywriting to consulting with my first client over Skype.
If I were to summarize what I learned during that period, I would narrow everything down to these 5 steps:
Let’s face it — no matter what field you’re in, you won’t be able to get anywhere with your career if you don’t actually have any idea what you’re doing. Continue Reading
Photo by Argenberg.
This post is the second half of our two-author, two-part series on smart saving.
Along with the health insurance dilemma, some full-time employees can be reluctant to quit their job to freelance full-time because it means giving up such perks as a pension and company-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan.
So, in this article, we’ll examine some ways you can keep saving for your future without being backed by a company.
But first, the obligatory disclosure: I am not an accountant or a financial planner, nor I am pretending to be. I’m just a writer whose done a fair bit of research. Please consult a financial professional before placing your savings into any one place.
Also please note that while the terminology in this article is specific to the United States, many other countries have similar options available under different names. Continue Reading
Photo by decor9.
This post is the first half of our two-author, two-part series on smart saving.
Many Freelance Switch readers are probably aspiring professional freelancers with a day job. Shama Hyder earlier provided 5 steps for switching from side gig to full time. There’s one really important step that Shama alluded to and that I’d like to expand on: savings.
Before you jump into full-time professional freelancing, you want savings. (Read further below for an explanation why, beyond the obvious.) Do not venture into full-time freelancing without savings.
General Savings Tips
- Save for the future.
Don’t save for next week, next month, or later this year. Lean periods in freelancing careers can and do ruin marriages and family relationships. Think like a business owner, not like one person constantly looking for freelance work. Use longer-term investments such as bonds or blue chip stocks (that you’ve researched well). Continue Reading
Image by Erathic_invad3r.
1. Play it Smart. The more you plan, the easier it will be for you to make the switch from side-gig to full time professional. Finances are definitely something you should look into and plan for. It may be very possible that you see a drop in income while making the shift.
If you plan for it in advance, it will be much easier to handle. Talk to others who have made a similar career switch and ask them what they did right… and more importantly, what they wish they had done differently. Heed their advice! Blogs such as Escape From Cubicle Nation and Anywired can also provide support and advice.
2. Gather the Troops. Any type of career change is a big move, but switching from employee to freelancer is perhaps one of the greatest moves. And like all great moves, it requires support. So, gather the spouse and kids. Let them know your plans and ask for their help. This can be your greatest asset when making such a transition. Continue Reading