We asked copywriter Lola Wilson to give us her tips on going freelance. Here’s what she had to say:
Taking the plunge into freelance can be a scary experience, but it can also be exciting and, in some cases, life changing. If you’re considering going freelance, or you’ve just started out, here are some top tips to bear in mind when taking those first steps.
Plan ahead and be realistic
Part of the scariness of going freelance is the uncertainty of where work will come from which obviously impacts on your income. The best way to start is to work out exactly how much income you need to live. This should include rent, bills, set up and running costs. Be completely honest with yourself and put a figure on it. A friend who has run her own design studio for 20 years gave me this advice and it really helped me to plan how I was going to approach my new business and whether it was viable. Going freelance meant that I had to downsize and move to a smaller place (which luckily my partner was more than happy to do) but it was a sacrifice that I have never regretted.
Freelance is not the sector to be aloof, and once you’ve made that decision to go freelance it’s time to tell people. I kept my plans secret for a few months and this probably damaged my prospects a little. Looking back I think the fear of failure prevented me from coming out and shouting about my new venture. Don’t be afraid. The only way people will know about your new business is if you tell them and, believe me, word soon spreads. Get a website set up, let your friends know on Facebook, make sure you get some business cards printed. You’d be amazed just how many supportive messages and recommendations for work you get even in the first few weeks.
Help other people out and do freebies
Freelance can be a lonely world but if you look around you’ll find that there are lots of other people working solo too. One of my friends is a freelance photographer and he offered to do a photoshoot for my website when I first started. That was a big deal to me and it means that when my clients ask whether I know a good photographer I know exactly who to refer them to. Lots of freelancers get annoyed when people ask them for freebies, but some of the most interesting and fulfilling work I’ve done I did for free and that tends to be the work that really gets noticed by paying customers. Obviously paying work needs to come first, but helping people out is good for your business as well as your soul.
Celebrate your successes
There’s something very British about not telling people about your successes. You will need to be resilient to work for yourself because it can be stressful and it won’t always go the way you want it to, so celebrating the things that go right reminds you why you took the step in the first place when time get tough. I’m not suggesting you should throw a parade every time you complete a project (that would be awesome), but celebrating your successes occasionally will make freelancing a lot more bearable. Go for a special dinner with your partner or friends, write about it on your blog, send a little tweet and let people know what you’ve been up to. There’s no shame in taking credit for your success and besides, isn’t that part
of why you wanted to go freelance?
Find out more at http://lolacopywriting.com/
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