When I moved to Austin, a place in which I never lived, I quit my stable job as a research assistant and thought finding a new job would be easy.
But I was so wrong.
I ended up working an array of endless odd jobs; anything from waiting tables, to restocking lawyers’ fridges with La Croix. I even found a job on Craigslist assisting an author with Parkinson’s write his book.
I became the queen of part-time jobs but realized none of these jobs gave me creative freedom or the chance to learn skills.
Eventually, I found freelance writing! While I love this lifestyle a lot, it also has its difficulties.
If you’re considering freelancing, here are some of the benefits, challenges, and a few tools to help you get started.
There are various things I like about freelancing.
You can work from anywhere: It’s fun getting to try out different coffee shops and cozy workspaces.
It’s great for frequent travelers: Instead of taking time off, you can bring your laptop with you and work in the hotel and on the plane. (if you fly Spirit you might have a difficult time typing).
Time flexibility: It’s nice having the option to work any time of day, from early mornings to late nights. Sometimes even super late nights, the kind that makes people ask, “Hey are you okay? You’re drinking a latte at midnight.” (Which is why we’ll get into time management)
Making money doing what you love: It’s a great feeling to make money while doing activities you already enjoy. It’s exciting and it builds self-confidence.
While it’s time-flexible, fun, and creatively fulfilling, there are a few challenges to be mindful of.
As a freelancer, you can learn a lot about yourself, and NOT all those things are good things…
For instance, you might discover that you are a master of procrastination.
Time management: It’s easy to lose track of priorities, lose focus, or underestimate the time needed for a project.
Financial responsibility. It’s on you to keep track of your finances, submit invoices on time and make sure you get paid! It may take weeks or even months to receive a payment.
Communicating with clients. Sometimes clients are vague about what they’re looking for, or just have NO IDEA what they’re looking for. It’s your responsibility to ensure you both are on the same page.
to organize your time and stay focused, I recommend:
A daily planner: My personal favorite is the Panda Planner but any planner will do!
Wall calendars: I like to list my 3 main priorities of the week, and the steps to complete them. If you prefer digital tools, use Google Calendar.
Phone timers/ alarms are also a simple tool for staying on task. I like to time-stamp everything to keep track of my productivity and ensure I spend the appropriate amount of time on a project.
The War Of Art is a great read! It teaches you about different forms of procrastination you might come across and how to overcome them.
Use dictation software like Apple Dictation or Google Docs Voice Dictating
For communicating with clients:
Ask detailed questions and encourage your client to be as specific as possible.
If a request from a client is a little out of your comfort zone, be honest about this.
For managing finances:
Use invoicing software. This article lists a lot of different options. Personally, I use the Zoho free plan.
Keep a spreadsheet that includes names of projects, fees, and dates submitted.
This article also offers a few tools on how to survive between pay periods
Freelancing is an excellent option if you're looking for creative freedom and opportunities to make money doing what you love.
It can also be challenging to manage your time, communicate with clients, and keep track of finances.
But with the right tools and the right mindset, you’ll get the hang of it.
Best of luck!
Feel free to share your favorite freelancing hacks below.