What It’s Like to Be a New Freelancer

I haven’t written on here in a while because I have been focused on my freelancing business. It’s exciting to even be able to say that—freelancing business.

I have been considering becoming a freelancer for several years now, so the fact that I actually took the leap still surprises me. I’m in shock, I think. And I have gained what I consider to be a lot of traction—more than I expected in the first month, anyway.

Freelancing is a perfect example of one of those things where, after you decide to put yourself out there and invest time and energy into it, it will pay off eventually.

But what’s it really like, day to day?

My Day to Day

On an ideal day, I get up around 8:00 a.m. and have a nice breakfast. Lately, I have been getting up at 8:45 and walking the dog and eating cereal at my desk when I sit down at 9:30 or 10:00.

Hey, it’s a work in progress.

First I’ll write out all my goals for the day. On Sundays, I try to sit down and write down a big list of things I want to finish that week. This gives me some sort of guidance.

Then I’ll check all the social media that is important for my business—Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I’ll schedule a couple of tweets for the day. I’m working on batching, so I’m trying to finish all of my social media graphics early in the week, and then I can focus on writing the posts later in the week.

I tear myself away from being sucked into the social media black hole too much.

Then I check my email, and see who’s responded. I have a running client list, so if email doesn’t take up too much time, I’ll work on finishing work for a client (I already have TWO CLIENTS, by the way. That makes me so happy). And later I’ll try to cold pitch to a new client to keep a steady stream of work coming in. Although the stream isn’t steady yet, it will be soon enough.

Lunch is usually around 1:00 p.m., and I usually step away from my desk and eat at our table or on the balcony. It is surprisingly easy to just work through lunch, which I guess is a good sign because I’m enjoying it. But at the same time, it’s not the healthiest lifestyle.

Then I’ll come back and work on client stuff or pitches or updating my website. My day finishes around 5:30 p.m.

A Heck of a Lot of Work

The fear of the load of work was one of the reasons it took me so long to start a freelancing business. Everyone says to be prepared to work all the time. You don’t get holidays. You don’t get vacations. You’re always on.

These things are only partially true.

Even getting my freelancer website set up almost killed me. Looking back, I wish I had outsourced the site building and paid someone to do it. But at the same time, I learned a lot. And I even used what I learned to build a website for my friend’s Bollywood dance lesson business. So I don’t regret learning how to edit and format my own site because I will need to be able to do that going forward.

But is this the last time I’m going to full build my own site? Yeah, probably.

The beginning is the hardest part, I believe. The learning curve is really, really steep. Like mountain climbing steep. But because you are learning so much so quickly, it only takes a couple of weeks to get your feet wet. And pretty soon you are swimming like a pro. Or at least a moderate swimmer.

And because it’s your business, you get to decide when you work and how many hours you put in. I’m also working in a book store, so I’m only dedicating about 20 or 25 hours a week to freelancing. I’m not doing this full time. And those hours have really paid off.

Plus, I get weekends. I give myself breaks because I can.

Yes, I will probably need to be checking in on vacations for the foreseeable future, but ultimately I will be in a place where I can set my away message and make sure people know I am on vacation and out of touch. That’s totally an option.

The Feelings Are Real

So many feelings—joy, excitement, terror, stress, and nervousness. All of the above describe my freelance journey so far.

Mostly the feelings are good, though. I am finally doing what I should be doing, at least that’s how it feels. That brings a sense of contentment.

Are the worries and the stress enough to make me want to quit? Only occasionally. But never strong enough to make me actually do it. I do doubt myself at times, but then I remind myself that this is all a part of the ride. All feelings are allowed, and normal.

Overall, I was afraid that the negative would outweigh the positive, but that has not been the case at all for me. It’s definitely a net positive.

I don’t feel lonely because my part-time job gives me plenty of human interaction. And now my husband is working from home most days, so we get to have a pillow fight in the middle of the day if we feel like it.

Is starting a freelancing career worth it, even if you are scared and unsure?

Abso-freaking-lutely. Do it. I highly recommend it.

And I’m always here if you have any questions or need any help!

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