My Advice to Those Who Want to Be Successful Freelancers
At least once a week, I'm asked this: how do I do what you did? How do I start a freelance career that is more than just piecing together an income, one low-paying article at a time?
Ok, maybe not that question exactly but you get the gist.
People want to know how, in 3 years, I went from quitting a dead-end corporate job making barely enough to cover my bills to earning a very healthy living writing.
I get it.
When I was just starting out I wanted to look at the success stories -- something (anything) that would let me know that my dream was doable. I wanted to know exactly how to get from Point A to Point B. I wanted to know who to pitch, how to pitch, when to pitch, and what to do when my pitch was accepted.
All very important things.
And I learned all of this. I scoured the internet and read literally any information about freelancing that I could get my hands on. I joined mastermind groups and took friends out for coffee and begged for any helpful advice they could give me.
This taught me so much. Because of my persistence, I was given many, many an inside peek at what life as a freelancer is really like.
So now, I think it's my turn to pay it forward.
Here's my advice to the person who wants to be a successful freelancer in 2018:
You absolutely can be a freelancer and make more money than you've ever made before. Trust me -- I'm doing it. But here's a hard truth I've learned from teaching dozens of freelancers: you have to really want it. I mean really, really want it. (If you get the Spice Girls reference, I see you.)
The Freelancing in America: 2017 Survey done by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that almost 50% of millennials already freelance and the majority of the U.S. workforce will be made up of freelancers by the year 2027. Crazy, right?
It's a good thing: it means there is a market for freelancers of all kinds -- from writers to web developers to photographers to models, companies are interested.
But this should also make you pause and ask how bad do I want it? You're going to be one in a sea of freelancers, so if you're going to be a successful independent contractor, you're going to need to want it -- badly.
You need to want it enough that you're willing to work late, get up early, and do it all again.
You need to be willing to take clients that aren't your dream client, so you can earn the experience that allows you to turn work away.
You need to be willing to hear rejection, over and over again -- without it destroying your self-esteem or motivation.
You need to be willing to go through the process, so you can get to the end result -- setting your own schedule, working from wherever, and earning as much money as you want.
I don't mean all this to sound scary. It's hard, yes, but it's also incredibly rewarding. The process is so complex and frustrating and thrilling and fun and it can push you far past your comfort zone and into a world that you only dreamt of.
Or it can make you go crawling back to your 9 - 5 which, sadly, is something that I've seen happen over and over again.
Why? Because these people wanted to be freelancers but they didn't want to put in the work.
If you put the work in, you will become more confident, you will get better clients, you will be able to charge more, you will be able to turn away clients that aren't a good fit, you will be able to take 2 months off work to traipse through Spain, Portugal, and Morroco.
You will be able to do all the things you want to do. But first, you have to put your head down and work.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Mindy Kaling:
“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work... I have never, ever, ever, met a highly confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a 'workaholic.' Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.”