I’ve really been umming and ahhing about creating a post about freelancing, but a few of you have requested that I talk about my experience so I wanted to outline the negatives and positives of my time freelancing, and why I’m back to working full time.
I just wanted to re-iterate that my experience freelancing was purely freelance writing/editing. It’s all I have had experience in, and I’m not saying all freelance experiences are bad, or it’s not worth it, but I’m describing what went wrong with me and how you could do it better.
Just to paint a picture for you guys— back in May I was unhappy with my job, feeling pretty unfulfilled and just a little stuck really. I felt like my job was having a negative impact on my mental health too, and made the decision to leave without having a job to move on to (you can read about my experience HERE) I’d talked to several people who were working freelance about what it was like, and what was the best course of action, and in the end I took the leap.
Immediately afterwards I felt super liberated and excited to start a new chapter of my life—an increasing number of us are really affected by the stresses of working so many hours with little to show for it. We’re quite often just working to pay the rent.
Wig: KoKo Couture
Why I Went Freelance
I was living back at my parents when I decided to go freelance (otherwise I wouldn’t have dared taken the leap!). I had a brilliant support system and didn’t need to worry about bills, and I had spoken to my parents about what I wanted to do beforehand, to make sure they were comfortable with it—all of these factors hugely influenced my largely spontaneous decision.
Another problem arose with my writing career in general: the fact that no-one outside the fashion industry wanted to employ me because they assumed that was all I wanted to do/was interested in talking about—I thought by going freelance and tackling different topics, I’d be able to show my range as an editor.
The Good Bits
Freelance was incredibly freeing, as it’s name suggests. I could choose what time to get up, where to work from, whether to get dressed (all day pjs was a situation for a while). The time I’d spent travelling to London was suddenly spent writing on my blog, taking pictures and generally chilling out, it was amazing. I felt less tired, I could control my diet. I suddenly had time to go to the gym, meditate, go for a walk.
The Not-So-Good Bits
I’m not going to lie, I miss freelancing every day. The amount of free time I had meant I could fully focus on my blog and my Instagram come Halloween-time, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do all those looks otherwise… but there were downsides. The biggest thing was the lack of work. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, or wasn’t prepared enough, but the summer was sooooo slow for work— I rarely had more than three clients at once. I’m not trying to say this will be the same for you, but I didn’t have too much dollar to fall back on, so found the warmer months a bit of a pinch.
Loneliness was another issue. I felt like my day consisted of waiting for everyone to get home from work! I had my cat and even though I didn’t miss the office environment, I don’t feel like it made me feel better to be alone. Another preconception I had would be that I thought all that extra time would make me more sociable—I kinda didn’t want to go out at all a lot of the time, and although I attended blogger events, I would largely be alone and go straight home afterwards.
When you’re not working from home, there’s a lot more of structure too. If you have your own office then brilliant, but I had to use my parent’s dining room table as a makeshift office which often made it super hard to switch off.
One last thing (and probably the most important thing!) was pay. A lot of different clients had different time periods they would pay you. While some had a standard 30 day-period before pay, others took up to three months, and one of my clients paid me on the day!!
How You Can Do It Better Than Me
I don’t think I can put it more bluntly than this- you HAVE to save. Having some spare cash (or a lot of spare cash) can really help out with those slow months where there really isn’t much work. Put yourself out there, apply for jobs each and every day, and build up a client base. Be outgoing, believe in yourself, and persistence is key— having those reliant clients that come back to you time and time again makes for more stable income, so show them you care.
When it comes to pay, be vigiliant. Establish that you want to be paid within 30 days, or at the end of each week, and make them sign to confirm. Always send them what they owe you in a tidy invoice and an extra tip would be not to give them a Paypal account over your bank account—I’ve been caught out a few times with Paypal taking a percentage of the money that’s being transferred.
Another bit of advice would be that if you have multiple talents, utilise and advertise them. You’ll have a better chance of succeeding if you’re not only a writer, but have worked in marketing, social media, etc. I was only really looking at writing as I felt I was a little behind with my knowledge on current social analytics tools— this could have also contributed to my failure!
In hindsight, the thing that scared me most was failing, and that’s why I’m back working full time. I grew afraid when I ended up sitting indoors day in day out, staring at my inbox with no replies from the 50+ freelance applications I’d sent out. Kayle and I are saving, and I felt it incredibly unfair that while he was putting money away, I was unable to give the same because I wasn’t earning nearly enough.
I will never rule out freelance and would love to do it again at some point in my life, and I definitely know how I could do it better. I really hope this post has helped you guys realistically weigh up pros and cons of taking the leap. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Pictures: Emilina Love