Top Tips for Freelancers

I’m at that point again, when everything and nothing are equally possible. As a freelance artist and a mother, this time of year utterly floors me. I swing from knowing doors are opening for me and contracts are being signed, to crying, wailing and looking at job adverts – I know I need to keep the freelancer faith. In August I stay home with my children, flirting with the odd piece of work. My skills become buried under litres of wine, sunshine and young laughter. I’ve grown so comfortable with my own languishing this summer that I’ve forgotten what I do.

The air has changed, its damp and I can’t dry any clothes. Homes are cleared of children, they march back along the streets in line, with their uniforms on. Shop keepers grow fat on the profits of stationary, new shoes and the angst of parents.

I can’t quite reach myself. The silence I have craved for the past six weeks of the school holidays is deafening. Loneliness floats around the edges of my existence, I don’t know if it’s mine to claim or an innocent bystander.

I search through the dust on my furniture, knowing the past me, the working me, is there somewhere. If I move enough things and create the right amount of vacant space, I could re-construct myself. Under a paper-work pile I find fragments of my future. Shards of ideas get stuck, splintered in my feet, but I refuse to pull them out. I’d rather wait until they infect me into action.

The first ping from my email box has my hands reaching for the roller-coaster seat-belt, as my ears register the click and my body is thrown against the bar, a familiar metallic taste floods my mouth and the phone starts ringing. I start each season not knowing who I will be working with. I am often surprised by where or what will be created with the collaborations concocted. I know the top tips recommended for freelancers inside out:

1. Be organised.

2. Do your taxes.

3. Budget. Price yourself well. 

4. Stay focused.

5. Brand yourself.

6. Be clear with your communication.

I could go on…

My top tips:

1. Be kind to yourself. When there is a gap in work, rest, indulge in the things you have been craving. Read a book. Lie down.

2. Trust your instincts. When you know a job is going to cause more stress than joy, say no.

3. Keep in touch with the people who make work feel like play.

4. Take photos and make records of the projects that contained moments of magic.

5. When you are at the high point in a project and are brimming with ideas. Save them. They are gold dust. You cannot use ALL your ideas on one project, do some brilliantly and save the rest for the right time.

6. When given praise and gorgeous feedback, hear it. Feel it. Say thank you.

7. Know and trust that work and money are always there for you. If you need to be an employee for a while, do it. You have not given up, you are re-charging.

8. Yes, do be organised, budget, plan all those things that mean you are professional. If you are struggling with any part of it ask for support. All super heroes need a super hero gang now and then.

9. You are not actually a character from the Matrix, sometimes you might need to learn something new. that’s OK. Learning is the whole point of being on this earth. Do not be afraid of learning.

10. That project that you are not sure is possible, but it’s all you can think of? It is possible. Go talk to like-minded people about it and make it happen.

Enjoy the ride. 🙂

If you have any more top tips for freelancers please add them in the comments. 🙂



3 Comments on “Top Tips for Freelancers

  1. Great tips. I think the only thing I’d add is ‘keep your nerve’. When I first started freelancing, I thought every lull signalled the end of my freelance life. Even after six years, they make me twitchy. I know that work comes in peaks and troughs and, with distance, I can even see seasons and cycles in my projects, but every time it goes quiet I have to remind myself of that fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Truth Behind Freelancing | Louder-Than-Words

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