Looking at things in hindsight is always a fun exercise. You validate and confirm any actions you made in the past in a more mature way without overwhelming emotions.
I've been a freelancer for three years now and I got my first job on a whim. Just like that. Needless to say, I took it without really contemplating much.
Now when I have the luxury, I contemplate, reflect, and then take a call. Very patiently. It’s only because I have crossed those initial years and I am better equipped today, only because I have learned on the path. I and my Naptop have spent countless hours together. What we've learnt from freelancing?
Here is the list of 10 Things!
Most of the freelancers, when they start, they don't know what niche they want to excel in. They just start. Forget the niche, I didn't even know the proper definition of freelancing.
I started coming to a coworking space because there was too much distraction in my house. Then I realized I have an edge for writing. So I started from there. After 2 years I was also interested in PR and Branding. So I picked up that on the way. The entire journey was a zig-zag, definitely not linear.
The Imposter syndrome
For the longest time, I felt I didn't know much about my field because that was not my major in education. I felt like an imposter who is saying things that she doesn't understand properly.
And while that might have been true at the start, with time I was saying things out of the experience. And that is equally if not more important than education. So fake it till you make it worked well for me.
Let me describe how the feeling is, just in case you are there right now. You are not sure what you have to do, and your client is willing to pay you, so secretly you feel you are an imposter and question whether you deserve the money. Well, you do! Because you are willing to figure this out for them and that counts too.
Undermine Your Worth
To the self in the past: Just Stop it.
When you undermine your worth, your clients will too. They will take advantage because they will see through you. Because remember there is a difference between being humble and being under-confident.
Also most importantly, the client can have all sorts of inspiration to show you and those brands will be the best in the world. Paying hefty to the best in the industry. But s/he is not paying hefty, s/he is paying you minimally, so even if you do 10 percent of what s/he is expecting, you deserve to get paid. Again that shouldn’t stop you to aim for 100 percent but just be realistic.
Then there are clients who will not pay on time. It's okay to be pushy there. You have to be pushy. Because otherwise, they tend to disrupt your evaluation cycle.
What is the evaluation cycle?
Ex: You think you earned so and so amount in a particular month, but if you get paid for it after 3 months, then you didn't really earn it back then, did you?
Sea-Saw of creativity and delivery
I still think there are a lot of people around me who are better in terms of creativity, and I really get inspired by them on a regular basis. At the same time I know I am good at creating that balance to get the outcome while working continuously on the process part of it.
The creativity in work always comes with a deadline and that truth no one can change.
Spreading the word
Being your own brand ambassador. I didn't do that. I didn't think it mattered. But it does. Till almost last year, no one around me understood my work. They just said I am lucky I can go on vacation anytime I want. Yup, that’s how they referred to my work.
When I started talking, I started getting more and more projects. It is indeed directly proportional. So don't hold back.
Can’t ignore the hard work
Freelancers can brag all they want that they don't have a 9-5 but only if you ask, they will unfold the truth of how many all-nighters they pull off in a week.
It's not all fun and freedom always. Behind that freedom, there is hard work, more than one puts in a 9-5. I can say that because I have been in both the scenarios and I work my pants off now, with no condition of 9 to 5.
Those all-nighters also come at a price. YOUR HEALTH. So gotta work on that discipline.
Celebrating the small/big wins
I have learned this from a book, “The code of the Extraordinary Life” by Vishen Lakhiani, where he says after you finish up a project, irrespective of whether the client was exhilarated or critical in the end, you learned something so celebrate that.
We tend to undermine the value of learning. Yup, it never comes for free.
Comfy clothes and being presentable
Oh Yeah, I can work in my pajamas for all I care. But if I present that way in a meeting, it's really difficult for clients to take me seriously. Again I am not talking about being decked up. Just being presentable.
So Fashion here can be used as a tool or you can be a victim of it forever. I used it as a tool as per my comfort and the timing.
Relationships are the biggest backbone
I've been lucky enough to have a lot of mentors, inside and outside of my coworking space. I can just walk to them and ask them what am I doing wrong. And they will tell me 10 things. I don't have to work on all 10. :)
Even when I'm not approaching them, they come and tell me all this voluntarily, with nothing holding them back. And I love that. It makes me more sure of the path that I am taking.
To say NO
OMG, I mean this is the king or queen. :) Really!!
To have a better freelancing career, you will have to say more Nos than Yes. Deficiency/Worry about where the money will come from can push you to take all sorts of projects and work with all sorts of weirdos. Just accept that or accept that you are a weirdo yourself and you can't work with another one. So say NO to those projects before they take down your two other projects with them.
Whatever it is, there will inevitably be ups and downs. Just like life itself. The goal is to enjoy your chosen path. It doesn’t even matter whether you arrive at your ‘destination’ or not.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the most beautiful lesson I've learned as a freelancer.
By Linkee Arora. - This piece was written by one of our coworker working at our coworking space and was generous enough to let us share with our community and network. Our coworking space is filled with such experiences and it's an absolute delight to see them thrive and flourish.