It’s been one year since I quit the security of my full time job, set out to travel Europe and had no idea what would be waiting for me when I returned. With a bit of luck and a lot of connections, I’ve been able to make freelancing a full time position but not without learning quite a few lessons (and mistakes) along the way.
Lesson #4: Money is time and your time is precious.
Now I was in a place where my last client took me at the top of my rate so I started leading with that high number. As I got months of experience and a few new clients under my belt, I began to increase that starting point. My hours were filling up and I knew I had to be more selective when taking on new clients. I had several potential clients approach me but when they couldn’t meet my minimum rate, I unfortunately had to turn them away.
On the other hand, at some point you’re also going to realize that you don’t have anymore hours to work unless you start to give up those personal goals you had initially set for yourself – an hour workout each day, dinner with your significant other, dog walks, weekends. This is where you need to stop and re-evaluate.
Re-evaluating may mean you have to turn away a potential new client or even drop an old client. Don’t fret, they will find someone else. Your reputation won’t be ruined. And you will still make money. The best thing to do in a situation when you have to drop a client is give them a referral for someone else. They don’t necessarily have to be a full time freelancer, it could just be someone who wants a side gig for extra cash but it’s important you always have someone else’s name in your back pocket.
It may also mean you need to re-structure your day. Getting up an hour earlier, skipping the lunch workout and going at 4pm instead, pushing dinner back a little later. Tiny changes can make a huge difference.
Regardless of where re-evaluating takes you, make sure you are constantly checking in with those goals you set and ensure you aren’t compromising on the big picture.
I think it’s important to note that freelancing was never my dream – I had always imagined myself being a powerhouse director of marketing at a large agency or Fortune 500 company. It’s an unconventional role to take on that just happened to fall into my lap. While no two stories are the same, I want to share the lessons (and mistakes) I learned along the way to inspire that person who isn’t loving their 9-5 or the adventurer that wants to travel full-time but needs some supplemental income to know that with some time, patience and hard work, freelancing can evolve into something great.