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The Freelancer's Guide to the Galaxy

Being a freelancer can be really awesome in so many ways. You get to be your own boss and create your own schedule, allocate time how you see fit, work in your own environment, and set your own rates.

However, there are also a few challenges:

Constantly being on your game to find projects
You don’t have a job to go to everyday with assignments all set for you to do, so you have to work at finding new projects pretty much all the time. It takes dedication and perseverance, but once you get the hang of it, most of your clients should be steady at some point and even refer you to new ones.

You should also remember to be open to different outlets that may bring you income as well. If you are a designer, where can you sell your work? Thanks to the internet, there are many ways to do this. And the same with social networking, you don’t need to be everywhere, but you should be on the websites that are the best for you to market yourself.

Handling your admin work
Now unless you hire someone else to do it, you have to take care of the not so fun work like keeping tabs on accounts, updating your newsletter, and writing verbiage for your website and other documents. After awhile, its something you will just get used to doing.

Personally deal with clients when you may not want to
Let’s be honest, there will be days when you really don’t want to meet or talk with clients, but you will have to. You are the boss. I think emails make this so much easier, don’t you think? It always helps to be clear about your project and get all details necessary before you get started to avoid any repetitive communication that may get annoying.

Not have a steady paycheck
This certainly sucks and at times it can get scary. But you took the leap and decided you wanted to be self employed so this sadly comes along with that. Just make sure your rates are fair without selling yourself short and keep that work flowing.

Learn how to balance your personal and professional
life if you work from home
This can be very hard, especially when you first start out. It’s definitely an adjustment and can be very challenging if you have children. Working from home is awesome but it has its drawbacks. Just stay focused and keep yourself organized enough so your schedule doesn’t overrun you. It’s a good idea to set certain times when you plan to work and even have a dedicated space, away from the rest of the living space, to do it. Distractions are the worst!

Try to learn about taxes so you aren’t in the dark about your money
I have done my own taxes for years and continue to do it for my husband and I. I am the type of person who tries to understand every aspect of my business and taxes are a part of that. Now, if you are totally not interested, then hiring a professional to help you is the best thing to do. I recommend Amy Northard, who works specifically with creatives and knows the ins and outs of tax time and beyond. You can also check out my post, Get Your Finances Straight: A Short Guide for Freelancers and Small Business Owners, to learn my easy methods of keeping your purchases organized and income easy to track throughout the year.

Handle invoices and discussing fees
Not everyone likes to talk about money. I, for one, never felt that comfortable discussing rates to my clients. BUT, this is something you have to do. It’s your livelihood and no one else is going to do it for you. Always research what the going rates are for the type of services you offer so you are not selling yourself short. And consider your VALUE a huge factor when figuring out what to charge.

When it comes to invoicing there are a bunch of services out there to make that department much easier. If you are old school and simply send a PDF invoice to your clients, that works. I prefer Paypal invoicing because its my main account for my business and using all their tools just makes my life easier. There is also an online service like FreshBooks that can surely help with super smooth invoicing and tools that make sense. Definitely something you should consider checking out.

Always having to market yourself to the world
Marketing should be on top of your list and a major focus in your business. Whether its social media, mailers, advertising, or blog posts, getting your name and work out there is a must for any business to grow. Since I am a designer, I handle all of this, which I don’t mind doing. For me, its a creative outlet to introduce myself to more potential clients and present my work to all different kinds of communities. But if you have to hire someone to take care of the marketing end of your business, then do it. Bad marketing is bad for business. Period.

I am currently working on a new course, Branding + Marketing 101: A Guide to Boost Your Business, Inspire Ideas, and Help Create a Brand that Represents You and Your Work, that I am very excited about. I plan to launch it late September/early October so keep your eyes peeled!

Let’s just say there are way more things you are responsible for than if you worked a 9 to 5 job. It could take years to get your business booming and hold a steady amount of clients, but if you are passionate about what you do and know in your heart that freelancing is the best option, then everything will fall into place.

My friends over at Freshbooks sent me a fun info graphic to share. It goes through all the things you probably will encounter on your journey of self-employment. Enjoy!

The Freelancer's Guide to the Galaxy