Influencer and content creator @whatshepictures recently quit her full-time job and became a freelance creative. She shares her personal experience of freelancing; from failing in her first attempt to succeeding the second time round and building a business. Here are her 5 key tips to help budding freelancers flourish as digital nomads.
This is embarrassing for me to admit.
When I first came to Australia nearly 10 years ago, I was a freelance photographer before getting a full time job. And I was terrible at it. Terrible. Instead of tackling goals and building my business, I was sleeping in everyday and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. I kept procrastinating and then feeling guilty about not getting anything done. Then I would do it all again the next day.
I got a full time job because I was terrible at being a freelancer. I needed the structure and accountability. I needed a salary because I wasn’t making money. And maybe that’s why it took me so long to re-enter the freelance life again: A teeny tiny part of me was afraid that I’d fail again.
Lessons From Failing As A Freelancer
I am a different person now. I have so much more drive and faith in myself compared to the old me. I have a thriving client base and a strong personal brand. But this teeny tiny fear of mine was still there, so I decided to create rules for my freelance life version 2.0. If you’re struggling with being a freelance creative like I was or you’re worried about taking the leap for the very first time, I wrote this blog for you. Read below for the lessons I learned on how to thrive as a freelance creative.
Freelance Lesson #1: Create Routines
Creating routines is a great way to build structure into your day. They can start healthy and productive patterns, and they are very effective at combating personal weaknesses.
Starting my day with something I love to do motivates me to get out of bed. This is important to me because I’m not a morning person and since I started working from home, my love of sleeping in turned into a challenge. Now my morning routine is to wake up at 7am, throw on some yoga clothes, and go for a 45 minute power walk along the beach. I love walking and I live in a beautiful neighbourhood so this routine motivates me to overcome my weakness for sleeping in. Plus, starting my morning with a little exercise gives me an energy boost for the day.
Freelance Lesson #2: Have Clear Boundaries
I used to procrastinate by washing the dishes or putting on a load of laundry. I used housework as an excuse to not work in my business.
Now I have boundaries between my work hours and my personal time. This means that I’m not allowed to do anything personal during work hours and vice versa. If I want to run personal errands during the
weekday (and let’s be honest, that is one of the best perks of working from home), I only do these things before I start work in the morning, or on my lunch break.
These boundaries also mean that I have proper lunch breaks. I’m a big believer in taking breaks because resting and refueling make you better at your job. This means I don’t skip lunch or eat lunch at my desk while reading emails. Lunch time is my time to step away from my workspace and enjoy a meal.
Freelance Lesson #3: Batch Your Work
When you let your mind jump between creative mode and admin mode, your brain gets tired fast. It’s hard work forcing your brain to switch gears back and forth. The solution is to do your work in batches.
I like to divide my schedule into half days with a clear lunch break between those blocks of time. I’ll assign blocks for photo shoots, editing, admin, or blog writing and brainstorming. Each block is designed to put me in a specific frame of mind and to remove distractions. This means that when I’m shooting (in creative mode), I don’t check my emails. I save my emails for when I’m in admin mode. Batching gives myself the time and space to dive deep into my creative mojo which is when I do my best work.
Freelance Lesson #4: Write To-Do Lists
Big dreams have a way of feeling impossible to accomplish. How does anyone get from where they start to achieving those big dreams? It’s daunting. I know that feeling all too well. So to tackle that feeling, I make to-do lists.
Instead of writing big dreams on my to-list, I break my goals down into small, actionable steps. Writing down tasks and then crossing them off your list when they’re done builds momentum that fuels you for the next task.
Sometimes I get side-tracked and I end up doing something not on my to-do list. When that happens, I add that task to my to-do list and then cross it out immediately. Seeing that list item crossed out is a visual reminder that I have been productive that day, even when my to-do list feels unending.
Freelance Lesson #5: Be Forgiving
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be forgiving of myself. I am not perfect and neither is my business. Sometimes, I break my own rules, and that’s okay. What’s important is that I take tangible steps toward my goals every single day, even if they end up being the wrong steps or turn out to be less pretty than I wanted.
I still haven’t figured it all out. Some days, I don’t get much done on my to-do list, or I take a nap in the middle of the day. What I don’t do, is beat myself up over not being productive because I know that I’m not the person I was 8 years ago. I know that if I fail at anything, that does not make me a failure. But it does mean, that I’m a better person than I was before.
If you’re freelance, or thinking about becoming a freelance content creator, you might be considering a new camera. Here’s @whatshepictures’ Guide to Buying a New Camera >
Some other nuggets of wisdom from Connie @whatshepictures:
Connie Chan is a photographer and photo tips blogger with over 15 years behind the lens. Proving that content is queen, her specialty is creating scroll-stopping flatlays for brands that their audience loves. Based in Sydney, Australia, you can learn more about Connie and her services at whatshepictures.com or follow her on Instagram @whatshepictures.