What I Learned in the First 3 Months of Working for Myself

Flirting with freelance? Here's an honest look at what that relationship is all about.

Before taking the plunge, I’d had a longstanding, albeit unrequited, relationship with the concept of full-time freelancing.

I’d bat my eyelashes and giggle with a coy smile when it would flirt back. But it was always more of a side-piece, side-hustle kind of affair with my 9-5 bringing home the bacon, as they say. Freelancing full-time was a romance that I was certain would end in heartbreak, so I’d swipe right by never daring to pursue it any further.

But one day, with enough connections made and consistent freelancing opportunities coming in, I courageously resolved to take the plunge, fully committing to that desire that had been building for years.

I’d be lying to say that it’s been all roses. Like any budding relationship, there have been ups and downs—I’ve had to learn new communication styles, how to honor personal boundaries, and of course, accept my “I woke up like this” work-from-home look.

Are you also thinking about making the leap into the land of freelance? Well according to the Freelancing in America Survey, it’s not just us. Released this year by the Freelancers Union and the freelance platform Upwork, the survey reported that the number of U.S. freelancers hit 57.3 million this year, an 8.1 percent increase from 2014. Of that, 47% of working millennials freelance in some capacity. The main drivers for those committing to freelance as their full-time gig? Freedom and flexibility.

47% of working millennials freelance in some capacity

But before you go ahead and quit your job, there is one major (if you don’t include the lack of benefits covered by your employer) aspect to full-time freelance life to keep in mind: the hustle is real. Without a doubt, the flexibility in schedule and getting to choose your café du jour are major perks, but balancing an inconsistent workflow and having to find your own clients can be jobs in themselves.

If you are down to hustle, then this freelance thing may be for you. As I steadily roll into my new life as a full-time freelance writer, I want to reflect and share the lessons I have learned in my first three months.

Listen To Your Intuition

Whether it’s your gut or those voices in your head saying yes or no, listen. We have all been in situations, whether personally or professionally, where we instinctively knew that someone or something was just not right and we walked away. And similarly, there are moments when you just know that you need to say yes to whomever or whatever presents itself to you. Freelance work is just the same—your woman’s intuition won’t lead you astray, follow it!

Your Word Is Your Integrity: Stick With It

Who else says yes to checking out a show on a Wednesday night, going to brunch, or attending a networking event with a friend only to bail last minute? I have done this countless times, probably more than I’d like to admit. So this is a lesson I repeat to myself often—your yes is your commitment; follow-through. Whether this is meeting for coffee for a new business lead, or doing work on a project you’re not too sure about, guard your yes’s for work and people you want to commit to. It makes you more mindful of your choices (or bad habits) and keeps you accountable with your time.

Know Your Worth

Money talks, and as the ruler of your own roost (and bank account), you’re the one doing all the talking. Ask around, do some research and land on a number that you feel is appropriate for your work, then add about 30%. As a sole proprietor, your taxes aren’t pulled automatically before you get your paycheck, so make sure you put at least 30% aside right away. It will make tax season way less stressful!

Muster Courage For Just A Moment

Are you nervous about quitting your job, or apprehensive about pitching a big publication? I have learned that you don’t have to muster all the courage for all of it – it just takes a moment of bravery to open the floodgates of opportunity. Really, just take a breath before you hit send, or knock on your boss’s door, or answer the call, because that is the hardest part. Everything will flow from there.

Cold Calls Can Be A Hot Lead

Don’t be afraid to cold email brands or companies, ask for referrals from past clients, and inquire about leads from friends. Talking about myself and talking up my skills is away out of my comfort zone, but no one is going to know who you are or what you can do unless you tell them! Then, when you do meet someone or get a lead, always be sure to follow-up. Send a quick email, get back in front of them, and remind them why you are so amazing!

You Got This

Finally, the biggest piece of advice I can pass on is this: stay confident! You will undoubtedly have ebbs and flows, but you made the jump at one point because you felt that you could be better or expand your reach on your own—never forget that! As I left my last full-time job, my boss said to me: “Stay the course and keep your eye on the future. You got this.”

So I am passing that piece of support on to you: you got this, babe!

Have you been courting full-time freelance? What’s holding you back?

Originally published at www.careercontessa.com

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