When I was starting as a freelancer, I must admit – it was hard to break some bad habits which I had acquired working in an office for years. I see the same habits (which potentially cause problems) in every single newbie freelancer I cross paths with. Here are the top 3 rules of thumb to follow if we want to truly enjoy freelance success and the freedom of being a freelancer 😀
Write your own rules – and play by them!
Yes, you heard me! You want to work 4 hours per day? Do it! (if you can afford it…)
You want to go on a 5-day vacation once every month? Do it! (if you can afford it ;-))
You don’t want to be micro managed or constantly checked on via skype? Tell that upfront to potential clients with such desires…
You want to go party on Wednesday night so much that you wake up in a stranger’s house the next day with almost no recollection whatsoever of the previous night? Apart from the obvious hazard of the situation – go do it! On Thursday morning nobody would ask for you – after all, your deadline is Friday 😉
Yes, it is that simple and easy, everything!
(Remember to read the post “Is It Hard to Be a Freelancer”– because it is! But we are talking about something else here being easy – everything can be exactly how you want it to be!)
Next rule of thumb is – answer only when someone asks you
Don’t report to everyone for everything. When I was working in an office, it was a common practice to be required to submit reports – morning and evening, once/twice/three times per week, to supervisors and/or their superiors, and so on. It is no longer required.
As a freelancer, you are not someone’s employee. You are hired to do a certain service. You are expected to deliver quality work in agreed time frame. Nobody cares how your day goes or if the 5th item on your to-do list is completed yet.
Don’t submit reports to everyone for everything at all times. Submit reports only when required about relevant tasks and to relevant team members.
To avoid clients who might be control freaks, read the blog post “How to Spot Bad Clients as a Freelancer” – those often are micro-managers too (meaning – they will treat you as an employee and the never ending report submitting will be part of your daily routine. Don’t do it to yourself.
And the last but not least rule of thumb for your freelance success – the more, the better.
The more your work, the more money you will make.
The more you plan, the more control of your time you will have (and more free time, respectively ;-))
The more you devote yourself to what you do, the more satisfaction you will feel in the end of your day.
The more you share your inspiration and happiness, the more people you will inspire to follow your steps and enjoy life (of a freelancer or not).
And so on – until the end of the world 😀
A.K.Andrew @artyyah says
Working for yourself is both liberating, but will only remain so if you give yourself some structure – whether that’s permission to have an all night blitz midweek – hey, no problem as long as it is planned for. And I think your final point is the most important one, that those thinking of going freelance may forget. it’s only common sense that the more you put in, they more you will get out of your situation, but it can’t be repeated too often. Good Post Diana – thank you:-)
I am glad you liked the post, A.K.Andrew – actually, exactly the last point made me think not so long ago that i have to gradually move away from freelancing and into passive income and/or product development. Don’t get me wrong – i LOVE freelancing, it really IS liberating…. but i have been doing it for long enough, i guess, and i start to want more – i don’t want to get out of it only what i put in, i want more 😀
Diana, these are such awesome tips! I love it! I especially love #2. The worst part is when someone you are freelancing for treats you like an employee. I have one guy I do social media management for, and he treats me like he’s my boss. He’s my client, not my boss. There is a difference. A thin line, but it’s there. I know it, but he doesn’t know it. Sometimes I have to put him in his place and tell him to just leave me alone and let me do my work. I know what I’m doing. This guy is a dentist who has his own practice, so he obviously is used to being the boss of his employees and checking in with them and having them check in with him. But I keep having to tell him that every email he sends me and every email I send him takes time away from the work I am able to do for him. I’ve thought about charging him for “support” since he takes up twice as much of my time as any other client! Or just charging him twice as much–I don’t charge on an hourly basis, I charge on a per service basis, so this makes it much more difficult to deal with clients that want to check in all the time, or want me to do more work over what I’m being paid for, or want me to give updates and reports all the time… sorry! Can you tell I had to vent about this, haha! 😉
Haha, yes – i can see you needed to let this out 😉 But i think you are onto something… If you enjoy working with this client and your only problem is the time it takes to communicate with them, charging twice as much can work. And if they decide it’s too expensive – they can always go find someone else willing to do the leg work for less money and be micro-managed in the same time. You will then have time for another non-micromanaging client 😉
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says
Teaching meant I had to be highly structured at all times to fit in all the demands of the job. The shift to freelancing has not meant those skills automatically transferred over. The best thing for me has been to learn how to break tasks down into more discrete goals so I can be accomplish more without feeling as overwhelmed.
I have never been a teacher but i can only imagine how different type of “staying organized” is required in that line of work… So many young minds looking up to you 😀
But you are right, Jeri, thanks for the addition – breaking tasks into smaller ones is crucial; I too learnt that as a freelancer…
Debra Yearwood says
If I took the leap and left the office I can’t imagine tolerating being treated like an employee by a client aaaaaargh.
I work with freelancers now and what I have said to them is that I expect them to be an external colleague. We work together. I’m not interested in being the client from hell for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I’ll have a hard time finding quality freelancers who will be willing to work with me. 🙂
Debra, from the freelancer’s standpoint, the fact that you say “we work together” makes you a way better client than many out there – hahaha. Not sure why, but i find clients’ have difficulties sometimes realizing they hire a professional, a consultant, someone with specific skills which they (the client) needs – not a busboy…
Luke Guy says
Freelancing is great and is hard to break the old 9-5 mentality. We’re so use to being like worker bees, reporting to duty. Which isn’t a bad thing! Some people aren’t cut out to be managers and ultimately entrepreneurs. Just know that whatever you want to achieve can happen. The question… Are you ready when it does! Take this article by Diana to get out of the 9-5 groove and be that freelancer you want to be.
Thanks for your comment, Luke – i second your thought that not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer, manager or entrepreneur. Which is cool – as long as everybody knows who they are, what they do, and how to make the most of the situation… and then, yes – whatever you want, you can achieve 😀