Time does fly!
It’s been one year since I packed up and left my office and advertising life for (my own) good! One year later, and look, I’m still alive, physically and mentally well, my bank balance did not suffer from not having a steady source of income, I have loads of free time, and best of all I’ve learned a lot.
Making the decision to freelance has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It is not without any problems, though, but I could always use a challenge or two. They keep life interesting.
Anyway, without further ado, I would like to share a few random things I have learned during my year of freelancing.
1. You need dedicated workspace and equipment
I live with my Oma in a fabulous, conveniently located house with double bed, air conditioning, wifi, cable TV, free food and drinks all day, but without space for a desk! I cannot stress this enough, if you’re gonna work at home you gotta have your own space to work, and your own desk, and working in your bed doesn’t count! Ask my bad back!
At first I was okay with working in the coffee table on a floor seat in the living room, or on the dining table, but soon I found myself distracted by everyone else’s activities and noise, not to mention the heat (the living room is non air-conditioned), that I would rather go out, and sit in a cafe to work! Now this creates a new problem, because working 5 days a week in cafes might sound great, but it means I’m spending extra money just to work on a proper desk! Ha!
I don’t have a solution for this yet, other than sucking it up (I try my best), moving out (I don’t really want to), or replace my queen bed with a single bed in order to make space for a desk (I don’t want to either, single bed = forever alone).
Equipment wise, I also can’t stress enough the importance of good internet connection, whether at home or mobile. Also, since you’re on your own resources, try to have reliable work computer that’s not about to explode or one that’s extremely old (I’d rephrase it as “well preserved”) like mine.
Sometimes when I don’t wanna spend a lot, I work in the mall food court, buy a drink and bring my own food. I’m really that pathetic…
2. You need to manage your moneys!
See quote: A penny saved is a penny earned. When you’re freelancing and you get paid, don’t spend it all, save it. That’s obvi. Also, always have some reserve fund. I’m no financial planner but when I quit my job I have about 10x of my monthly salary saved in my bank account for safety measures. This way I can be sure that just in case I’m running into a dry spell, I won’t have debt collectors chasing my ass for not paying bills etc. Being sensible is the key to not falling into poverty!
3. Choose your clients well
Hey, creatives! For the first time in your life, you have the power to choose who your clients are, so choose well! Ideally those are the ones who can communicate and collaborate well with you, appreciates your work, and pays promptly. (Ideally). No matter how desperate your situation are, don’t go into the “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality. If you agreed yourself to a deal you’re not happy with, it will show up in your work.
4. Set time to rest and play
When I was an employee, I always look forward to weekends. Weekends are for rest and play. Now that I’m freelancing, I often think, hey, I don’t have a 9-5 schedule anymore, I can work ANYTIME I want. So I did, including working on weekends, working late nights after 12AM, working on public holidays. And look where it got me, I got myself sick. At first I thought that freelancers don’t really have holidays, because since I don’t go work in a office, everyday is already like a holiday, and more work delivered means moar money! Well, I have learnt that it’s not the case! No matter what your work arrangements are, your mind and body always need rest, so remember to turn off that computer occasionally and do something fun to recharge.
5. My word is my bond.
You work in an office. You get paid monthly. I get paid when I deliver. Therefore I gotta try my best to deliver, deliver the best stuff, and deliver them ON TIME. It’s that simple! Keep your clients happy by keeping your promises. Happy clients are paying clients. Happy clients means repeat clients, and repeat clients means more money, obvi.
6. Keep yourself constantly inspired
Easier said than done! Relates directly to advice #5 and best achieved through #4. Artist’s block sucks, so try not to get into one!
That’s it for now. I’ll write some more when I have more ideas. Feel free to include your thoughts in your comments. Now I gotta get back to work… on my 5-year old computer… on my bed. Ha!