5 Things Freelance

By Nicholas Nesbitt

Nicholas Nesbitt is a Johannesburg based creative specialising in Illustration, Digital Design and Sound Design. These are some of his latest illustrated ramblings. Enjoy :)

1. Home Alone

Some people are born to freelance. They are self motivated and can get on with the job without being micro-managed or distracted.

At the end of the day it comes down to the type of person you are. Do you like being alone for long periods of time working on your craft, learning new skills and getting on with the job at hand?

The truth is you will probably be spending a lot of time alone and in your own head. If this is something that scares you, think twice about being a freelancer. There are ways around this… get out, find a coffee shop. Join a hot desk with people in a similar situation to you. Get a mentor that you can bounce ideas off.

Once you find solace in working alone it can often be hard to change this. So be aware and get outdoors and take a break when you start to act a bit Gollumish.

2. Do you know who I am?

One of the most scary things about being a freelancer is that you can easily isolate yourself. You need to let people know what you do. Don’t be that annoying guy on social media, but let people know what you are currently working on.

The world is a very noisy place and you can get lost in the chaos. It is important to keep putting yourself out there. Go out and meet people and ask them what they do. Try make their world better. It’s important to be interested in other people, this is how collaboration starts.

Use your talents to help others. Show that your work can benefit them, soon you will be in demand.

Don’t over think things. Post work in progress. You can always delete a piece of work that’s not up to scratch at a later date. People love seeing that there is momentum in your life. It gives the impression that you are always working on your craft and that you can be relied on because of your consistency.

3. Money maker

A great amount of your time will be taken up with invoicing and admin. If you don’t invoice you don’t get paid. So get organised.

Find out about tax, invest your money, keep track of your spending and follow up on your invoices. Once you become a pro at some of these very boring things you can spend more time on what matters — being creative.

Try break up your day into admin time and creative time. This way you can focus on the task at hand.

Be like a squirrel, those months over the festive season can be hell for a freelancer that has not prepared. I recommend living within your means while you start up. Stay out of debt and manage your credit card. Invest in your skills and not in your lifestyle, that will come in time.

Never be afraid of money and don’t sell yourself short. It’s just a tool to get you closer to your freedom and your dreams.

4. 99 problems…

Most people are going to tell you that you’re crazy. You will hear words fly around, like stability and security. Truth is that some of us are not wired to respond to those things and we should not be made to feel bad about that. You need to try filter out that nonsense and focus on yourself and what you want.

Some people don’t like seeing other people being free. They will try sabotage you so be aware of this. Sometimes ‘advice’ can be misadvise. Try stay away from these people.

You may have financial freedom, or creative freedom. As a freelancer you can achieve both but it’s hard work. There will be dark times, but if you keep working towards your goals nothing can stop you. Fear can be a motivating factor either way. It might stop you from doing the thing you love or keep you in a job that you hate because you are afraid you can’t make it on your own.

You can use your talents to set the course of your life. Some people spend their whole life making someone else rich. Don’t get me wrong there is merit in gaining experience from these people but don’t get stuck in the that trap that ‘you can’t do wonderful things on your own'.

5. You used to call me on my cell phone

Sometimes the phone stops ringing. When I first started freelancing silence was terrifying. Now I take a deep breath and I go for a walk, read a book, watch tutorials or cook a meal. I do something for myself. Why? Because that’s why I started freelancing, to have time for myself.

Desperation is your number one enemy. People can smell it on you. You need to keep your head straight and use the time you have to sharpen your sword, rather than panic and make bad decisions. Successful freelancers pick and choose the jobs they want. Ideally you want to build up a bit of a buffer through these times and this can take time.

A way to build up more work is to diversify your income. The way I do this is by having a side project or two. For example I make music and this brings me other revenue streams like sync deals and royalties. Sometimes these side projects start as a fun way to express yourself, but often they become another avenue for income.

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