There are certain things about freelancing, that you can only learn from experience. Most people won’t know for sure whether they’ll love freelancing, how much time it will take or quite how much earning potential there is until they’ve given it a try.

But here are a few things I’ve learnt, that might be helpful if you’re new to, or considering, freelancing. These are just my experiences, so I’d love to know what you’ve learnt in the comments!

  • Sometimes, when you’re working at 8pm on a Sunday evening or you have to leave the pub early to meet a deadline, you have a moment where you want to give up and do a 9-5 job. For me, that moment passes quickly. For others, it may be constant (and a sign that perhaps freelancing isn’t for them). But at some point, we all wonder if working for someone else would be easier.
  • It’s incredibly hard to switch off from work when you work for yourself. This isn’t always a bad thing, but does lead to workaholic tendencies.
  • When I was a kid, I found it excruciatingly embarrassingly when my parents would carry a spare catalogue or business card for their business Chocolates for Chocoholics, and hand them out. Now, I do it.
  • You might become office-resistent. I’ve gone back to working in an office a couple of times since going freelance, and always feel like a trapped animal. I have no patience for office politics, processes I haven’t implemented and uncomfortable office chairs. Freelancing and working from home has spoiled me for working in an office, but works perfectly for my introverted personality traits.
  • If you’re an extrovert however, you might end up missing the office. Missing tea break chats, office banter and after work pub visits. Many of the big cities have creative spaces for freelancers to work together, so it’s worth looking into if you’re feeling like that.
  • Once you go freelance, you’ll never go back. Well, unless you hate freelancing. It’s still tricky to go back to taking orders from others when you’ve been your own boss though.
  • A lot of freelancers have a number of skills and roles. This makes it difficult to explain what you do to others without them drifting off. I’ve yet to come up with a full title for what I do. This, I fear, is why so many people refer to themselves as ninjas, experts and gurus.
  • I’ve often come across the assumption that freelancing is a relaxed, boho lifestyle that requires little work. This is, as you all know, bullshit. Freelancing is hard work. Far harder than many 9-5 jobs. This is why many people say they run their own business rather than freelance – less stigma.
  • Feeling ill? Fancy pulling a sickie? Or want to take a holiday? Great! Just know that the work you left will still be there when you get back – with a whole bundle more. You are wholly responsible as a freelancer for your business.
  • Freelancing has made me unable to relax. If I take a week off, it’s inevitable that I’ll end up tinkering with HTML, planning future posts or planning a future product. Time spent lazing around the house rather than working on something seems like a waste of time. In fact, I went on a relaxing spa break with my mum and sister this year, and ended up leaving feeling more stressed from how inefficient I had been.
So, that’s my experiences and lessons from freelancing. What are yours? What have you learnt about freelancing that you didn’t know before?

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