ICYMI last week, I published part one of my guide to going freelance. Whilst I don’t want to put anyone off going freelance, I’m also not going to dance around the subject either. In this post I’m going to talk more about starting out.
Breaks can come later
In the first instalment, I spoke about how you should expect the first couple of months to suck and consider other avenues. In my first month of freelancing, I only had a handful of clients. I work as a freelance social media manager, so even though I only had a few clients I was still handling multiple accounts. It wasn’t enough to live off of, but you know what? It was a start and I was actually doing it. I was actually working freelance! I put all (and I mean all) of my energy into these few clients and it really paid off. The first month went really well and lead to even more work.
How can you find work?
The same way you would a part-time or full-time job, just search! I found that with any sort of job search, you just have to keep at it. Although it’s hard (especially when your mental health plummets), you just have to remind yourself it won’t always be this way. I tried to get myself into the habit of applying for a certain amount each day, but of course some days you just don’t feel like it. Social media is a powerful tool, I posted multiple statuses when I was starting out. I managed to get a few leads this way. Just let people know your situation or what you’re currently searching for, you never know who’s looking. Just don’t give up, you can relax later on.
Remember you have to do the work
The moment I started doing well, the requests started coming in. I have spoken to a few other freelance social media managers and oddly enough they have experienced the same. All of a sudden, everyone wanted to know how they could become a social media manager. It’s something that really bugs me because so many people assume that it’s such an easy job. A lot of people seem to think it’s simply scheduling tweets, which is quite insulting to be honest. I am more than happy to answer questions or offer advice where I can (it’s why I’m writing this), but don’t expect everyone to do the work for you. So many people want to skip the hard part and just have everything handed to them. It’s especially irritating when it’s complete strangers asking you about your job. I have had people I don’t even talk to leave comments on my blog asking me who I work for, I mean come on! Social media managers have a hard time enough convincing businesses their expertise is worth paying for, it’s people who think they can just waltz into it or that it’s ‘easy’ that add to this.
So where do you draw the line?
If you want to get into a new field, do! I’m definitely not writing this to put you off 1) going freelance, 2) joining a new field, or 3) working in social media. All of these things can be really fun and empowering, but this does need to be said. There is no point doing a job you have no interest in or knowledge about. A lot of the people who message me are just people looking for easy money. Whilst there is a certain amount of learning on the job, I feel like my job is not something you could do if you weren’t passionate about it. And I think really it’s the same in any field. It’s insulting to the people who do put the work in. You’re essentially telling them that their job is worthless because you think you can get into it to make a quick buck without putting in any real effort. It’s like when bloggers get annoyed at publications like Cosmo for suggesting anyone can blog or that it’s easy. Anyway…
Please don’t let this put you off of reaching out. When I first started out, I asked people questions. I reached out to people that inspired me and asked them about things they wish they’d known beforehand. You can ask people if they recommend any courses, websites to visit, or if there is anything you can do to optimise your own social media for example. Talking to people does help because it should leave you feeling motivated and inspired. Just please stop asking people to straight up give you their contacts and places of work!
Find other freelancers to talk to
Working from home is really great, but it can also be quite isolating sometimes. I only have one client that I see in person, the rest I communicate with via email/telephone. If you’re in a similar position, I recommend connecting with other freelancers. It’s really useful having other people to talk to especially if you work in the same field. You can blow off steam, learn from each other and you know just feel less alone in this world. I work remotely for an agency and having a relatively close relationship with other account managers has been really beneficial. I also really enjoy talking to other freelance creatives. One of my favourite parts about being freelance is connecting other people and essentially creating more jobs for women. For example, one of my clients needed an illustrator and I instantly thought of at least ten I could recommend. If you’re unsure where to find people, look at networking groups, local co-working spaces or even Twitter.
Promote your arse off
One of the things that helped me the most when starting out was promoting the fuck out of myself. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t searching for an opportunity to tell somebody what I do now. Whether it was in person, at events, in online groups, or even on certain hashtags, you’ve got to try get yourself out there. Obviously, know your audience and assess the situation first. Just don’t go spamming everyone for the sake of it. If opportunities aren’t available, try make your own! Reach out to people and offer your services, what have you got to lose?
I hope this has been insightful and hasn’t put you off making the leap to freelance. When I first started out, there was so much fluff out there. It all seemed so unattainable and that’s not the impression I want to give anyone reading this. Working freelance is a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. At first, it can seem really overwhelming but I promise you’ll find your groove. It’s really empowering being your own boss. I plan to write more about what it means to be freelance and I’ll try make it more positive. So, keep your eyes peeled!
Photography by Kaye Ford