7 top tips to become a successful freelancer

Is the grass really greener?

It’s a question many ask themselves whilst readying themselves to dip their toes in the sea of the self-employed. The world of work is changing and taking autonomy over your craft seems to appeal more and more with the lure of flexible working and less office politics to contend with. Both Betty and I went Freelance over two years ago and it’s been a huge learning curve - but one we’ve embraced and rolled with along the journey.

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If you’re prepared to dive - we’ve got the armbands, here are our 7 top tips to be a successful freelancer…

1.Who’s the boss?

You’re the boss - that’s the whole point! But realistically, your clients are your bosses too - and you’ll (hopefully) have many over your career. Flip your preconception of ‘the boss’ on its head and you’ll see that ultimately, it’s the person who mentors and guides you, gives constructive feedback on your work and gives credit on a great job done. So really, it’s up to you to take on that role, but accept that your clients will be integral to this process also.

2. Realise the power of relationships

A smile in the lift, a cheery one-liner at the beginning of an email and a quick chat about the weekend on a call. Humans like humans - it’s in our nature to chew the fat, crack a joke and connect with the people around us. Most of our work at The Social Club comes from people who like us as people and mirror our values. Never underestimate the power of friendliness, good humour and the ability to muck in and help out whenever needed.

Thank you so much for your help over the launch event(s)....
Its been a total pleasure working with you both on this you really helped to create the right atmosphere / get the people we wanted there - it’s been lovely to see all the support on social and in person so thank you for helping us with that... and you were stars for helping with the clearing up!!
— — Vic Borill, Director of Brighton & Hove Community Kitchen

3. P is for positive procrastination

It’s the fat pink elephant in the room, mocking our ability to stay focused for 8 hours per day. Realistically it’s not possible. The human brain is not built to go full power on anything for more than 45 minutes (New Scientist) so why do we beat ourselves up for seeking a bit of distraction in between? Next time, instead of scrolling through Instagram, why not read an article that interests you, or dedicate 10 minutes to your Headspace app. You’ll come out more refreshed and productive - promise!

4. A little set up goes a long way

Ahh the endless set up at the beginning. From pitching to clients, organising invoices and getting your head around a tax bill - there’s plenty to do. And that’s not including setting up a website, finding an office space and kick-starting your marketing plan. Eeek. Take the time needed to get these things done, preferably before you leave your current job. Utilise apps such as Wave for invoicing, build your website easily on Squarespace and make sure to SAVE YOUR TAX MONEY! 24% should cover you nicely. It’s all doable in small chunks.

5. It takes a village

Although you may have gone freelance to escape the constant whirl of the office and its social demands, it’s important not to lock yourself away when you first take the step into self-employment. Finding a suitable co-working space is possibly the best advice we could give, especially at the beginning of your new venture. Speaking to others in the same boat and networking can provide valuable contacts and potential work opportunities you’d miss out on working from home.

6. Avoid burnout

Things going great? Brilliant! Remember that just because you don’t get ‘paid’ holiday anymore doesn’t mean respite is off the cards. Clients will understand that you need to go on holiday once in a while, and as long as you organise yourself beforehand, it’s unlikely the sh*t will hit the fan as soon as you leave your laptop. And it’s ok if you want to pack that laptop - just in case, as long as it stays tucked under your swimming cossie for most of the trip.

7. Toot your own horn

You’re insightful enough to realise your strengths, brave enough to pitch them to others and savvy enough to make the money you need to survive. Whatever happens on this winding road of freelancing, it’s certainly going to be an adventure. Just remember to sit back and congratulate yourself now and again - you’re going to smash it.