Updated: May 26, 2021
On the 20th June 2017, I landed back at Manchester Airport after a 2 week trip to NYC and Florida. It was a dream trip of mine and its safe to say it was one of the most amazing experiences ever.
However, as the final few days came to a close, I started to get anxiety about returning home. You see, just before leaving for this dream trip, I quit my job to go freelance.
As my feet hit the ground in Manchester the panic set in. This is it, Im on my own...
Now if I fast forward to present day, I can honestly say its the best decision I could have made. Yes there are definite ups and downs when working for yourself, but the overall sense of fulfilment I feel everyday is amazing.
Here I want to breakdown some of the things I have learnt in my first 6 months in the hopes that I can help anyone else debating whether freelancing is for them...
Your success isn't defined by how many hours you work!
I wanted to start with an important one for me. I see a lot of freelancers posting online about how they have worked 17 hours that day, or how they plan to work through the night to get something done. Unfortunately, I see no need for this. Yes I completley understand that deadlines are important, but your mental health is also as important.
I make sure I'm at my desk by 9.30am and signed off by 6pm. I work hard while I'm at my desk and get as much done as I can, however if something isn't finished by 6pm, Im not stressing about it, I sign off and come back to it with fresh eyes in the morning.
Quick Tip: Write a list of everything you want to get done that day, keep it realistic. Once everything is ticked off, treat yourself and finish for the day, even if its 2pm.
You can't please everyone so stop trying!
In the first month of freelancing, I really tried to push sales of my commissioned family portraits. My plan was to be freelancing for animation studios, but I was already getting a few orders a week and I thought the money would help while getting my name out there.
I found out very quickly that my illustrations had different values in peoples minds. Some people would enquire and be so shocked and, at times, angry with how much I charged. This would upset me so much and at times I would slash the price in half for them just in the hopes of a good review. I look back and just want to slap myself! It wasn't until a few days later I would have people telling me my prices are too low that I realised I cant please everyone and that I need to stop trying.
If people see the value in what Im selling, they will pay the price Im asking for. If they don't, then I dont need their business.
Social Media is crucial!
I didn't realise how important social media would be when I went freelance. I mean I have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I posted to them regulary. But it wasn't until I noticed that the more I posted, and the more I interacted with people on social media, the more business came my way. Now over 80% of my income comes from people finding me on social media.
So get posting content daily if you can. Post WIP's, finished pieces and behind the scenes content!
Quick Tip: Try and get the same username on all of your social media to help people find you easily. For me my handle is @eharveyart on all social media!
Look after your body, Physically and Mentally...
This is probably the most important thing.
Looking after you.
Get outside, go to the gym, meet up with friends, keep active and keep talking. It can be lonely at times working for yourself and your mental health is extremely important. It was only yesterday when I had to have a cry with my partner because I was worried about money coming in next month. It happens. There are no guarentees. But then today Ive woken up to 2 emails with work offers and 3 orders placed in my Etsy store. Its a constant rollercoaster and the more you keep in, the more you will break when you can take no more.
So there are many more things I could add to this list, but these are my top 4.
Whether you're already a freelancer or maybe you're about to take the plunge, remember there are so many others in the same position as you!
Feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org