How to Make it as a Freelancer

by Kristina Tahnyak on October 31, 2013 · 3 comments

Good morning Dinks.  As many of you know I work full time in corporate communications but I also have my own business where I work as a freelance writer for various employers and write about various  finance, career and women-focused topics.

One of the most frequent questions I get from aspiring self-employers is “How can I start working as a freelancer?” Like many people in their career I never aspired to be self employed, I just kind of fell into the profession by using skills that I already had.  Actually I loved my cushiony bank job as a financial planner and my fixed salary – until the market crashed and I quickly needed to move into survival mode to earn more money and I came up with my career Plan B…start working for yourself.

Being self employed has its pros such as having a flexible schedule and the ability to make my own rules, I like not having to justify my time and not having to answer to anyone.  But there are also some cons of being self employed such as the added stress that comes with not having a stable pay check as well as the enormous amount of time that it takes to start a business and keep it profitable.

Here are my 3 rules to successfully work for your self

You have to look for clients.  There is no magic formula that will help you find freelance business except for making sure you are doing it 24 hours a day 7 days a week…even on Sundays.  So many people think that they can put a website online and the emails or phone calls will come rolling in, but that’s just not true.  Looking for new clients in any industry is difficult, but looking for clients in an industry when you are a newcomer is even harder.  Whether you are a writer, photographer, speaker or graphic designer you have to work hard to find new clients and keep them.

Never say no.  I have been working as a freelance writer since 2009 and to this day I never say No to a client.  If they ask me to find a reliable source for an article, check facts or write a series of articles in a very short deadline I always say yes.   I never say no to existing or new clients because I know that next time they won’t ask me to help.  If clients don’t keep me at the top of their list of experts and go-to-girls then it means that I will lose money and I hate losing money.

Expect to work more.  So many people that working for yourself is all fun and games; well, I am living proof that this is just not true – actually the total opposite is true.  Your pay check as a self employed professional depends on how much you work so if you want to make a lot of money you have to work a lot of hours.  I personally don’t mind the level of work involved in growing my own business because I am doing something I love and I’m doing it on my own terms.  However, the fact that I don’t really get to take a 2 week vacation every year is kind of a downer.

Photo by tomasc

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dojo October 31, 2013 at 9:05 am

Great tips. I have said no to clients on few occasions: the work wasn’t paid well, the work wasn’t in my general scope (I don’t do programming for instance or SEO) or it was illegal/immoral. Also, when I ‘smelled’ a bad client, I just refused to work. After some years in the business, you do develop a 6th sense about this stuff. As long as you are good in what you do, you will find clients and work ;)

2 Budget and the Beach October 31, 2013 at 11:52 am

I agree with two of the three points you made. I do, however, say no to clients. There are just too many people out there willing to take advantage of freelancers. Ive seen it all! But I wouldn’t say it’s just a hard no…I usually try to negotiate on my terms…or very reasonable terms. If those terms aren’t met, I have t ask myself how worth it a project is. Being able to walk away from certain clients or projects has increased my value and has helped with my self-esteem. But you must have a belief in yourself and your work. You have to hold it at the highest standard, then back that up with quality work.

3 Jen @ Frugal Rules November 1, 2013 at 5:04 am

True that with freelancing, paycheck is not as stable compared to a regular job. Nevertheless, I enjoy freelancing because of the many liberties that it entails. Perhaps I am speaking from a mother’s point of view but I have never been happier. I used to have an 8 to 5 regular job and I hated the fact that I had to literally drag myself to get to work even if the pay was good.

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