I’ve been a freelancer for the past 13 years and have built up a business that means I can now invite other freelancers to come and work alongside me. The decision to become self-employed and start my own business came because of a chronic illness that made working in offices challenging to sustain. However, my time in the industry gave me a positive grounding and lots of skills that have come in useful when navigating the world of freelance life. I’m a freelance writer, and I help companies and individuals with a wide range of writing tasks from blogs to content, proofreading and advising about SEO rankings. I work a flexible but standard 35-hour week, but this has taken some doing. I don’t believe it matters what industry you are freelancing in; the basics remain the same, so here are my top two secrets to success.
The pandemic gave many people who typically work out of offices and other locations the chance to experience my daily life. Results were mixed, with some people loving it, just as I do, and others hating the fact that being at home left them completely detached and unable to find focus. While you have an element of freedom, and you are much better placed to organise your day and sneak out for coffee or meeting a friend, you need to remember that discipline is essential, particularly in the beginning. Work can be sporadic while you start-up, as you have little evidence of your skills and have yet to build a portfolio. This can be disheartening, and I have known several people try to make it as a freelancer and quit for this very reason. It can also be lonely, but networking with others who have the same lifestyle gives you people to chat to throughout the day.
The approach that worked for me was sacrificing my life for a couple of years while I built up my client base. I would take jobs that required me to work through the night or at weekends to get that all-important portfolio and feedback. There are platforms for freelancers such as People Per Hour or Fivver where you can give and receive feedback on other people’s performances. On People Per Hour, I am now one of their longest-serving highest-ranked providers in my industry. To get there, I genuinely accepted jobs that I hated; one year, I wrote 250 vacuum cleaner reviews, all of which had to be unique content with no repetition, and the pay was appalling. Those couple of years, my children were small, so socialising wasn’t exactly high on my agenda anyway, and I could easily find myself up in the middle of the night with a child who wouldn’t sleep, so why not combine that with a bit of work?
The bottom line is that you can create a perfect work-life balance with a little bit of hard work and perseverance, which I now enjoy daily. I am in complete control of my business, my finances, and my time. I highly recommend freelancing as a career!
Anna Mae Author
Writing and proofreading talent for hire