Welcome to Freelance Friday! Each Friday, I’ll share something Freelance-y that I learned during the week that will help other freelancers or entertain cubicle-queens. Thanks for reading!
Freelancing or running a small business removes a lot of barries to experiencing life. There’s no 9-5 workday to hide behind, or meetings to slink into and sit quietly when you need a break. It’s just full-on, all the time.
That’s why passion is so important. Everything you do needs to be motivated by the point of it all. Otherwise you’ll quickly run out of steam or realize you aren’t happy as a freelancer.
And that’s what I’ve learned over the past 10 months of freelancing: you need to get to the point as quickly as possible or you won’t last long.
Fortunately, the point can change over time.
Point One: Cover the Bills
For those of us not born with a trust fund, we all start out with the same point: to cover the bills.
This is the charming phase where you’re stressed all the time, accepting work from people who don’t want to pay full price (or who may not even respect their own project), and generally hustling.
It’s really, really fun, but also really stressful. That was me for the first three months of freelancing.
Point Two: Realize You Have A Business
Once you’re confident the bills will be paid (with a kind of “I’m flying! I’m flying!” attitude), you start to see your business as a tangible thing outside yourself. Something you can work on, invest in, and grow around.
Even if it’s still a one-person operation (give or take an intern), it’s still something that lives when you sleep, eat, or otherwise are not 100% actively doing something for its benefit.
This is a welcome plateau where you can breathe a little and get some sleep while you figure out what to do next.
Point Three: Strategically Nurture the Ultimate Point
Step three is my favorite step so far.
You’re on top of the tiny, tiny mountain you’ve built with time, tea, crying, and adrenaline, and you try to figure out what you want to build there now that you have the time. For some, it goes right back to the money point and making as much as possible. For others, it’s having the freedom to pursue your Ultimate Point and making a living out of it.
If that’s you, you’re at a point where you can pick and choose opportunities that come along. And even better — you can forge ahead and make your own opportunities if you don’t see any you like.
I can’t describe this career alchemy with enough excitement. You’re taking something that simply doesn’t exist. And now, out of sheer force of will and luck and strategy, it does. It’s heady magic.
That’s all I’ve figured out for now. But maybe there’s a fourth step you want to share?
Which stage of small business freelancing are you in? Do you have a plan to move to the next one?
PS Unless of course you’ve fallen in love with a teenage client