Inside The Noggin - Life Of A Freelancer
“I can be my own boss and choose my own hours.”
“Today I’m not feeling it, I’ll pick it up tomorrow.”
“This person is making X freelancing. So can I.”
I’m sure these thoughts have crossed your mind a multitude of times, and i’m sure some of these thoughts have won over and have snuffed out your productivity for a day or maybe even a week or more.
This whole freelancing game is hard. It truly is a battle of self-discipline and focus every — single — day.
You know that adage “You are your own harshest critic.” This is 1,000% applicable to freelancing. Each day will be a new adventure with a test starting immediately when you first wake up,
Are you going to win over the day or is the day going to win over you?
Don’t get me wrong freelancing can be freeing and awesome under the right circumstances, but it is definitely not for everyone.
Here’s a few things that I’ve come across as I’ve started my freelancing journey.
Schedule and Plan Things Accordingly
Get a calendar that you take with you everywhere. Whether it be your phone or a notepad, writing things down can only help. I go more into the planning aspect in another post here.
If you’re a free-lancer, consultant, or part-time/full-time remote employee, write everything down. From deadlines of projects to lunch and coffee meetings, writing things down keeps you organized and reduces stress. Leave your brain to focus on the task at hand and cut out trying to remember 20 different other things that only suppresses your productivity. There’s a certain laser focus you get when you only have a couple things on your mind. There’s also a certain chaos that happens when you’re trying to remember everything in your head from grandma’s birthday cake to the proper technique to harvest raw soybeans.
I find that most (short term) things take longer than you think, so I try and budget ~20% buffer time for most high priority items (i.e If you think an important thing is going to take two hours, budget two hours and 25 minutes.) and ~10% for most medium priority items. Again, this practice reduces your stress and makes you more productive on the things that matter. Stress and productivity I find to be inversely correlated so the less stressed I am the more productive I can be.
Mindset is truly everything
Having a north star matters. Where are you going? Why? How are you going to get closer to that north star today?
Yes, even on the days you feel like doing nothing, when the world feels like it’s not going your way, even in the depths of a slump, having that north star solidified at your core will keep you going.
Make a vision board, ask a friend to help keep you accountable, read a self-help book, learn a new skill online, whatever it is (even if it is cheesy) keep that north star at the forefront at all costs. Have a bias towards action no matter how small. I find where the biggest growth is made is in the momentum that you accumulate over days, weeks, and months of continual progress.
Feed the momentum machine and become a force to be reckoned with.
Focus On Your BEST Strengths
It might be tempting to be a jack of all trades and say yes to every single opportunity you get, but here’s where I caution that — dilution.
People, clients in particular, only remember a small fraction of whatever you tell them. That being said, if you were to ask your current/past clients to explain what you do could they accurately represent what you do from top to bottom? Odds are, if the list of services you offer is like a short novel, chances are they won’t recall everything that you do. This in turn, dilutes the value of your work at large.
Let me give you an example —
I’m your guy for social media management, content creation, copywriting, photography, voice acting, SEO, folding clothes, this, that, and the other.
See how much this can turn into a word salad the more of a generalist you become.
Be known for a small subset of things that you are good at. I’m talking things that you are THE BEST at. Be the “go to” person for those things. Everyone will remember, and in turn strengthens your pitch to new and prospective clients.
Now after laser focusing on your best skills—
I create brilliant online shopping experiences through persuading copy and minimalistic photography.
See how much more refreshing and concise your pitch can be. Anybody can remember what you’re all about, plus it creates the building blocks for your story. Your story is the bread & butter of what makes you unique and is the main reason clients choose you! Without a compelling story, you fade into the sea of all the other freelancer’s with no story to tell that compete almost solely on price. It’s a race to the bottom.
Yes, freelancing is awesome, freeing and rewarding!
It IS tough. With the right skills and mindset it can certainly be the opportunity of a lifetime. The world is truly your oyster with unlimited potential, go out there and make it happen!
Remember why you started.
Tell your story.