4 Tips for Going Full-Time Freelance

THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF BEING A FULL-TIME FREELANCER HAVE BEEN A BIT OF A WHIRLWIND.

It’s been stressful at times, sure — (manual migration of web hosts, I’m lookin’ at you). But I’m happy to report that it’s been a relatively smooth transition. Even when I’m feeling anxious about the uncertainty that comes along with running your own show, I know I’m super lucky to be able to make a life for myself doing something I love. Plus, working from home means I basically LIVE in pajamas now. #LifeGoals

But in all seriousness, the *best* part of being a copywriter is that it allows me to help other people be successful doing what they love… which kind of makes me feel like a nerdy Super Hero. (But a Super Hero, nonetheless.)

RAMBLINGS ASIDE, IT’S BEEN ONE HELL OF A LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

If you’re ready to build a career out of freelancing, here are a four tips to get you started…

ONE: PREPARE TO HUSTLE.

If you’ve been freelancing for a while and already have a base of return clients, great! But for most, this isn’t the case. Even if you’ve been a part-time freelancer for years (where my weekend warriors at?!), you’ll probably need to expand your client base in order to fill in a full work week. Ideally, you’ll want to have so much work coming your way that you need to turn down some gigs.

Before you know it, you’ll be all, “Waah! It’s so hard being popular!”

But getting to that point is no easy task. A TON of work goes into getting your feet off the ground, (even though it LOOKS like a ton of sitting on your ass, playing with the computer). You’ve got a site to build and optimize, branding assets to design, social media profiles to set up, copy to create, networking to do, ads to run… which brings me to my next point.

TWO: INVEST IN YOURSELF.

This is ’bout to be your livelihood, man! Treat it as such. Invest your time. Invest your resources (but don’t go too overboard just yet). What I mean is, don’t settle for mediocrity — the internet is full of it, and it won’t make you stand out. Instead, do what you need to do to make a killer first impression. Build a great site — one that’s well-designed, with SEO-friendly copy that converts. Buy a custom domain name. Create useful content. Expand your presence on the web with social media sites, and make sure they’re cohesive with your brand. Order business cards. For tasks you can’t do yourself, hire help or ask a savvy friend.

If there’s something you can do to get more or better work, DO IT.

Read books. Take courses. Follow industry blogs. Network with others in your field. Get a mentor. There are SO many ways to invest in yourself. For me, a recent investment I made was listing my services on CopyHackers for Hire. Time and money are valuable — but if you use your resources wisely, you’ll have a better product and get better leads.

THREE: KNOW YOUR WORTH.

One of the biggest challenges of freelancing is the competition. There are millions of freelancers out there — 53 million in the US, alone. Some are willing to work for pennies per word or well under the minimum wage. But, I’m going to tell you something, and if you take nothing else away from this blog, hear this:

Name your price & stick to your guns.

I’m not saying you should never compromise to work with a client’s budget, but you work for YOU now. Know the value you bring and charge accordingly. Don’t get so caught up on competitive pricing that you end up taking on too much work for not enough moolah. You’ve found something you’re great at, something that people are willing to pay you money to do — so make it worth your own time. Make it something you want to do in the morning. Sure, you’ll lose some potential clients to cheaper options, but the working relationships you DO make will be built on mutual respect and trust.

FOUR: DON’T BE A “YES” (WO)MAN.

As a freelancer — especially as you’re starting out — it’s not uncommon to pick up jobs you’re not totally comfortable with… It could be that it’s low-pay, boring, or maybe even a bit outside of your wheelhouse. Whatever the reason is, it’s okay to say no.

I repeat: it’s OKAY to say NO.

Clients hire freelancers to do projects within their budgets, to meet their deadlines. Sometimes you’ll fit the bill, other times you won’t. Don’t be SO afraid of losing out on work that you’ll say yes to anything. Lacking the time, skills, or appropriate pay to complete a job is a totally acceptable reason to turn down a gig. They’ll find someone else, and so will you!

Big things can happen when you believe in yourself and work really f***ing hard.

Freelancer or not — I think we can all agree that’s good advice.

FELLOW FREELANCERS!
What advice do you wish you knew when you began your freelance career?

This post originally appeared on the Collective Thoughts blog. (9/11/16)