Full time freelancing requires a commitment equal to marriage. One doesn’t make a leap of faith for an affair; they do it for a marriage.
I bet in the beginning, you felt all warm and fuzzy when you started freelancing. After all, you didn’t have to answer to anyone, could work your own hours and best of all – you had creative freedom! You were full of enthusiasm and zeal and your business was off to a great start. A honeymoon couldn’t have been more perfect.
A few months later, reality begins to set in. You realize that instead of your boss, you now have to answer to your clients. Working your own hours now translates into late nights and creative freedom is dependent on your client’s vision. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as great as it was in the beginning.
You start to get disgruntled. Fights erupt with your muse and you stop talking to each other. Your work begins to suffer and before you know it, you’re thinking of divorcing your freelance business and going back to a corporate job.
To avoid signing on the dotted line, learn to keep the passion and stay in love with freelancing even when things get tough.
Don’t take freelancing for granted
It’s easy to forget why you started freelancing in the first place. You start taking the freedom freelancing gives you for granted and end up hurting your business.
You didn’t start freelancing so you could wake up late, work in your jammies, or become a hermit. You did it so you could have the freedom to pick and choose projects that interest you, earn more than you did in a corporate job and do all the things you’ve wanted to do in your life.
None of that is going to happen if you slack. Your freelancing business is just that – a business. Treat it like one.
Never go to bed angry
Whether it’s a difficult client that has put you in a bad mood or a problem with the project you can’t seem to solve – going to bed angry and frustrated only means you’ll wake up the same way.
Instead of working all night with no results and waking up groggy the next day, clock out early. Watch TV, go out, do whatever you do to relax and plan for an early start the next day.
Waking up at 4 am to work on a difficult project is better than pulling an all nighter and going to bed frustrated and angry. Once you’ve rested, your mind will be fresh, relaxed and better able to find solutions.
Taking the time to cool off, separating yourself from your work works wonders when you find yourself stuck in a frustrating situation. More importantly, don’t think about work while you’re away from it.
Be flexible and accommodating
Even if you’re meticulous with deadlines and progress updates, your client might not be. If you get impatient and worked up when you don’t receive feedback on your work immediately so you can proceed to the next stage, you’re in for a lot of tension. Your client and their work is of utmost importance to you, but the same can’t be said of your client. They have other responsibilities to take care of and getting back to you with feedback is not on the top of their list – unless it’s a high priority project.
Whether you keep sending them email reminders to send you feedback or make sure upfront that you want feedback within 24 hours of sending it – you’re setting yourself up for stress. Not to mention that you’ll be alienating your clients too!
No one likes to work with someone who doesn’t make certain allowances, isn’t flexible and accommodating.
Being flexible and accomodating isn’t just about feedback. It can be about payment terms, project deadlines, late fee etc. If you’re set in your ways then freelancing won’t be fun for long.
Learn to compromise
Your marriage to freelancing won’t last long if you don’t learn to compromise. Now, I don’t mean compromising on the quality of your work or your work ethic. It means you have to learn to accept that you can’t always have it your way.
As a freelancer, you will have your own ideas of how a project should be done and what would work better. After working on it so hard, you’re emotionally attached to the project and want to see it do well!
If you insist that your ideas or vision is correct and the client’s isn’t – your work relationship with the client and freelancing will sour very soon. It will also frustrate you, stress you out and even anger you. All of these emotions are toxic for your freelancing business.
Always keep in mind that ultimately, the client gets to make the final decision. Sure, you can make suggestions and offer advice but the client is under no obligation to act on it. So every time you start getting all riled up because a client isn’t taking your advice on a project – remember that your duty as a freelancer is to make sure your work reflects your client’s vision – not your own.
Once you realize that all important point – your freelancing life will become easy.
Take time off
Work too hard for too long and no matter how much you love your work, you’ll burn out. Keep the flame alive by taking breaks.
About once a year (at least), take a couple of weeks off from work. You can travel, hike, camp, visit family and friends or do whatever you want. Stay home if you want to but don’t work. Let your clients know you’re taking a break. Submit work beforehand, refer someone else, delegate or ask for an extension. It’s not that hard to do.
And if you absolutely can’t take time off from work, take a working vacation. Lessen your work hours and go have fun the rest of the time. Work a couple of hours in the morning before heading out. Or work at the beach. The possibilities are endless.
And if you can’t even manage that, take a day off every two weeks.
Learn new things
If you’re a specialist, then before long you’ll start feeling stifled. Sure you’re exceptional at your chosen niche and love it but after a while it starts to feel tedious.
Avoid this feeling by learning new things. It will keep your interest in freelancing alive and give you additional skills as a freelancer.
If you’re not waking up looking forward to your work day, you’re not having fun and your freelancing is beginning to feel like a burden.
Working on personal projects is a great way to reduce stress and keep your interest in freelancing alive. Take some time out – even if it’s just an hour on the weekend, to work on something of your own.
Your personal project could be anything as long as it’s something you’re interested in and can’t wait to work on.
Not only will it revive your interest in freelancing but it might also give you an option of creating a passive income stream leaving you less dependent on client work. It’s a win-win situation!
What do you do to stay in love with freelancing? How do you keep the passion alive?