It is hard to believe that a mere 2 years ago I made the decision to start my own business as a freelance writer. The time has gone super fast.
I must admit I was pretty naïve when I began and made some rookie mistakes. As I am sure all newbies do! Now I am 2 years down the track and I have learnt so much more.
The first year was especially tough. I was balancing rotating nursing shifts with being a first time mum and building up my freelance writing business. Even though I learnt so much in my first year of business, I did spend a lot of time questioning the timing of starting my own business.
I had a 1-year-old to look after, I was still working as a nurse and life was pretty hectic.
Looking back I do not regret a thing. It has been an amazing journey so far; I have met some fantastic people and cultivated relationships with some great businesses. I love writing, I love helping small businesses with their content and I love being a work-at-home-mum!
So 2 years down the track, what more have I learnt?
1. Being your own boss is empowering.
I can choose how busy I am, my workload, what projects to take on and were I work. It is great! I love that level of control over my own job.
My hubby would just say I was born bossy so of course I love it! I say: I am not bossy, I am a leader. Even if I am simply a team-of-one. Leader sounds better than bossy, doesn’t it?!
2. Always have an activity planned for your toddler for when you want to work.
To be honest after my second bubba was born I was winging it. I didn’t organise anything. The work I did was completely ad-hoc and disorganized.
It totally went against my inner control freak nature.
But with the disruption and lack of routine a newborn brings to your life, whilst juggling a jealous toddler and regular household chores I simply didn’t have the energy or the motivation to organise myself. I kept up with all my client work, but unfortunately my own website and blog fell to the wayside. And this is not a great way to get things done.
So I started planning, planning and planning some more. Part of that planning process was to find and organise activities that would keep my toddler entertained for the 45 minutes my daughter napped that I could sit down and work. I bought the Busy Toddlers book by Trish Kuffner and used good old Pinterest to find fun ideas for him that need just light or no supervision. And then I get stuck into work.
Play dough is always a winner! And stickers, except they end up everywhere. The TV. My face. The dog.
3. Being paid can be very frustrating.
This is especially true when you are just starting out, but even 2 years down the track I find it frustrating. Sometimes people simply forget, so sending a friendly reminder is always a good idea.
I made the switch to an online invoicing program, Rounded. It is an Australian program aimed at freelancers and sole traders. I can send reminders to clients when an invoice has not been paid on time through the online application. 9 times out of 10 I got prompt payment and an apology as it simply slipped their mind to pay. I still had the occasional client who tried to wrangle out of payment, and this is why I always have a Letter of Agreement (LOA) or contract signed before completing work. A simple reminder of the terms of your agreement and most people will toe the line and pay.
It is still frustrating having to follow these up. But I guess all part and parcel of running your own service-based business.
4. There is never (and I mean NEVER) enough time.
Really, I need more than 24 hours to fit everything in. Chores, playing with the kids, meal times, exercise, walking the dog, work, etcetera. One of the most valuable lessons I learnt the last 2 years is there is never enough time; so don’t take on too much!
I tried and failed (yikes, there’s that F word!) to blog twice a week as I thought this is what I HAD to do to build a following. On top of that was marketing, social media updates, client work, pitching and regular life too! I have to admit, I fell in a heap. It all got too much and I ended up not investing any time or effort into my own website. I simply concentrated on client work, as that was the most important.
So what did I learn?
That there is never enough time, and to use wisely what time you do have.
Only bite off what you can chew.
5. Don’t rest on the clients you have.
Don’t get too comfortable. I made the mistake of scaling back marketing and pitching when I deemed I had enough regular client work to sustain an adequate income. And then 2 of my regular clients in the space of a month decided they didn’t need a freelance writer anymore.
And there goes my regular income.
Suddenly I was scrambling to find more work. It was not a nice place to be.
So do not give up marketing and pushing your business. Keep a solid online presence and cultivate relationships with businesses and clients you believe you would be a good fit with. If you cannot take the work on then and there, leave an opening so you can approach them later (or them you) for work.
6. Keep on keeping on!
It took me a good year to build up enough momentum and client list to feel like my business was growing. Then enter the curve ball as mentioned above of 2 regular clients calling it quits and it suddenly felt like I was back to square one. It would have been so easy to just throw my hands in the air and call it quits.
But I didn’t.
I kept going. I kept pushing and pitching and marketing until I found more clients to fill the gaps.
This is advice I have to keep reminding myself of after I let my own blog slide. To keep on keeping on. Not only do I love blogging, but also it serves as a great marketing tool and portfolio for potential clients to view.
So just keep plugging away!
I hope you can take some clear messages away from this. Freelance writing can be a hard slog, but in my books it is so worth it. Turning a passion into a paid career is amazing, and I am proud of what I have achieved so far. I love being able to work around my kids, even though there are some days where you just want to pull your hair out with frustration when you cannot seem to get anything done.
I would love to hear what you have learnt, or what you hope to learn on the journey to being a freelance writer! Leave a comment below and start a conversation with all those beautiful like-minded people out there!