5 Valuable Tips I Learned from Freelancing

When I started out as an online freelancer in 2006, I felt like I was on cloud nine with my newfound freedom. In my mind, I have now become my own boss. No one could ever tell me what to do again.

But I was wrong. Months into my freelancing stint, I realized that, yes, freelancing gives me the flexibility of time and place to work, but I was still working. Just like my old office job, I still had deadlines.

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Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you can do anything. You might have gotten rid of your boss, but you gained a client. Your client may not be like your annoying micromanaging boss, but their expectations are high – in fact, most of the time, higher than what your old boss expects you to do.

Once you become a freelancer, you are on your own. You are now your own brand. Anything you do or do not do will affect your brand. And it will make or break your career.

If you are new to freelancing, here are some tips I learned that may help you with your journey:

1. Don’t accept too many jobs that you can’t handle

Freelancing gives you the opportunity to earn much, much more than you used to earn from your office days. This I realized during the early days of my freelancing career. After my first client, I began receiving offers which paid more than the first one. I was overwhelmed… and became a little greedy. I took the opportunity to earn more. When I computed the time I needed to do the required tasks, I was left with only a few hours of rest everyday. There was no time to linger and relax. Still, I told myself, opportunities like this come only once. I can sacrifice a few of my sleeping hours.

Months after, everything boomeranged on me. Yes, I had the opportunity to earn more money – but I was tired and burned out. I lost my focus and passion for work. My quality suffered and I started losing my clients.

2. Learn the art of time management

One thing I wished I possessed during my early freelancing career is the art of time management. In fact, my lack of skills in this area is one of the main reasons of my failure. I didn’t set clear goals and timelines at the time. I was inefficient. I didn’t know what to prioritize. If I knew how to manage my time well, I could have survived. It’s a hard lesson to learn but I learned it very well.

3. Discipline yourself

Discipline goes hand-in-hand with time management. Even if I set a schedule to do a certain task, if I don’t have the discipline to do it on that specific time frame, I will never finish it.

That’s practically what happened to me. Sometimes, even if I know that I was already swamped, I would reason to myself that I needed a bit of time to relax. I would start going to Facebook or I would work on my personal blog instead of doing an important task that I need to finish. At the end of the day, when the time comes for me to take my much needed rest, I would still be working on the task that I was supposed to have finished long ago if I didn’t waste my time chatting on Facebook.

4. Set daily goals and follow through

If your client doesn’t have daily goals set for you, try setting them yourself. It helps with productivity. It helps you know which task you should prioritize. Ever experienced that pride in yourself whenever you cross out a certain task in your list? Whenever I was able to do that, I had this renewed hope that I will be finishing soon. It gives me a sense of achievement and fulfillment. It inspires me to get more things done. If I don’t set my daily goals as a guide, I am like a lost sheep running around, not knowing what to do.

5. Respect your deadlines

For a client, deadlines are very important. That’s exactly why they hired you – so that you can help them meet their deadlines. Now, some clients are very nice and would give you extensions from time to time. But remember that if you’re always asking for extensions, in the long run, your clients will lose their trust in you.

I had struggled with meeting deadlines when I was going through the burnout stage. My focus was gone. And because I have to juggle three different jobs, I didn’t know what to prioritize. I felt like I was not providing quality service anymore. That’s when I decided I needed to take a break from freelancing.

Conclusion:

Freelancing is often compared to having a vacation while working. Ever seen those pictures of people working on the beach or somewhere very relaxing? That’s what often comes to mind when people think about freelancing. Some don’t even consider it as a real job. But when you’re a freelancer, you know this is not true. Yes,  you get to work anywhere you want, and sometimes, anytime you want, but it doesn’t remove the fact that you are still working. You are expected to follow a very high standard, which means, you have to work very hard as well.

Freelancing requires hard work, dedication, discipline, and commitment – just like any other job.

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Getting back to writing

I promised myself I will be consistent and disciplined this time. I’ve been writing for years. I’ve created so many blogs. But none of them lasted. Why? Because after a few months of writing consistently, the urge to write suddenly dies down and everything starts to go down the drain.

So I’m giving myself this last chance. Maybe my current circumstances will help. Maybe my baby will help in prodding me to write – because there’s a lot of things you can discuss about babies. Even if they are not born yet. Just feeling them kicking inside your tummy is already something.

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I’m about 23 weeks pregnant. I have a full-time job in a transcription company. I used to love my job. Well, I still love it until now. But things change when you become a mom. Your priorities change. Your outlook in life changes. Your interests change.

I have planned to stay longer in my office job for career growth. I have tried freelancing for three years before and planned on putting up an online business. I failed on my first try because I lacked some skills which I could only get from a mentor… which prompted me to go out again into the corporate world so someone can mentor me in terms of people management and leadership.

I got that from my five years in working in the office. I’m not an expert yet, but I learned a lot of things. I actually thought I was going to love staying there for more than five years.

But recently, I realized that transcription isn’t what I want to do in life. Writing is.

That’s why I’m coming back. Because writing is my passion. And at this point in my life, with a baby on the way, freelance writing is the most viable option for me. I feel like I couldn’t survive motherhood if I will still do office work. I know that there are a lot of moms out there who are cut out for the corporate world, and it’s not that I can’t do it, I just don’t think it is for me. Call me conservative, but I still believe that I should not let anyone else take care of my child except me or my husband. I could hire some help, but at least I will be there to see my child every step of the way.

And so I will be a stay-at-home freelance writing mom. I will never stop working. I will never stop writing. I just want to be in close proximity with my child. I owe that to her.

So, with my life ahead of me all set, what I’m doing now is getting back into the mindset of writing. I have joined Facebook groups such as The Copywriter Club, Freelance B2B Writers, and Writing Revolters. I have gained a lot of insights from these groups in the short period of time that I became a member. Additionally, blogs like Copyblogger, Make a Living Writing, and The Write Life have been very helpful.

I’m currently reading a book called Persuasive Online Copywriting which was a recommendation from Copyblogger. I’m halfway through it and I’m having fun learning. Reading through it made me realize I have yet to learn a lot in writing. I did study journalism in college, but when it comes to the workplace, what I learned in college is just a small chunk compared to what I still need to learn.

It’s been a while since I last did freelance work, so my problem now is getting clients. It used to be very easy to get clients in 2006, but as the competition grows, I’m finding it very hard to get good clients that pay well. I’ve tried Upwork, but man, the competition is tough. I feel like I’m a tiny grain of salt whenever I try pitching myself. I have had a few offers but I often change my mind when I look at the pay. With the Upwork fee now at 20%, it’s almost like you’re working for free. Probably, just for the sake of building my portfolio, I might try to get some clients from there, though, of course, I will never work for $1/1000 words of content.

Anyway, I think this is the best time to write and get published, and I’m determined to make use of the technology we have now to my advantage. Gone are the days when you have no one to read your writing except for the cockroaches and lizards in your stock room. At this time, you can publish anything you want and get some readers interested if you came up with something that piqued their interest. It’s a great time to be a writer!

So, time for me to get started. I’m starting out with this blog for practice. I don’t even have a custom domain name, but I will have soon. The goal is to write everyday, at least.