If we had a dollar for every time we heard people tell us: “I wish I had the balls like you to go freelance.” we’d probably afford to buy a bar.
This was us at a not-so-distant point in our lives, and we’d be lying if we said the decision came easy to us. We, like most freelancers, started out with full or part-time jobs, carrying out a couple of light freelance work on the side––mainly to quench the creative thirst that isn’t being fulfilled in the said full or part-time job (this happens often, no point denying). It’s the ideal way to get started, and the ideal way to build up your freelance client base without taking too much risks.
Despite what most of society has told us, it’s important to remember that job security is a myth, particularly in the current creative climate. But it’s also important to ensure a slow yet respectable transition from having a job to becoming a solid freelancer.
Fact: if you’re good and you work hard, you’ll always be busy. But this also doesn’t happen by accident. Creatives have dived into the deep end of freelancing and failed because their skills and experience weren’t developed enough, so it’s key to think long and hard before you jump in. Do your skills offer value? Are you legitimately qualified? Despite contrary belief, it’s not actually a sin to stay in your 9-5 job a little while longer if need be.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to enjoy all the benefits of a full-fledged independent creative. Freelancing depends heavily on good self-branding. And no, it doesn’t come naturally for anyone. Doing your own marketing, networking, administration, on top of ensuring that you are providing and fulfilling all your services to your clients. It’s a shit ton of time and stress. Coming up with a solid workflow based on your own work behavior and following it through regardless of how mundane it can get is our best advice.
In the realm of digital content marketing and its sometimes-immeasurable effectiveness, a lot of working creatives struggle with differentiating between what they enjoy doing for fun, versus what they enjoy doing but ultimately want to charge for. Doing what you love often removes your awareness of the market, so you tend to undercharge. We get it. But the bottom line is: if you want it to become a business, you have to maintain some sense of what consumers want, and what is “worth it” for them to buy. Read up. Do your homework. Stay woke about what type of content you pay more or less attention to, even when (maybe even especially when) you’re off the clock. Develop an automatic reaction to detail and analysis. That way, you know how to allocate the right resources to the right project.
Don’t get me wrong: there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some people make it, break it, and even fake it, but it’s up to you to figure out what you want to achieve in a creative career path, and how you want clients to utilize your unique skillsets. Treat yourself like a brand and give yourself a mission & vision that you will live by, rain or shine. Authenticity can speak volumes for a brand and resonate with loyal customers. Once you have that all figured out, it’s just plug and play from then on.