As a freelance writer, I basically have my dream job: I get to write for a living, choose the projects I work on, and my office mates are chihuahuas.
At the same time, I am my own accountant, assistant, marketing team, and client liaison. Being a freelancer, I am solely responsible for the success of the business. But wait, "I just want to write," my brain yells at me as I take care of that week's admin or work on bills and budgets (which I secretly love). Sometimes my inner-accountant waivers and I reach for my notebook, but usually she just gives the writer a stern look and get's back to business.
As a freelancer, excuse me, a female freelancer it sometimes takes a little more hustle to get to where I (we) want to be. The links Amanda posted for freelancers have all parts of this operation ready to lean in. Combine that know-how with this advice and Kelis won't be the only one who's boss-ay:
- Take yourself seriously. Because if you don't, no one else will. If you're operating with a high level of professionalism it comes through in your work, and people really take notice. Taking yourself (and your work) seriously is also important because you may meet clients who think you'll be easy to manipulate because you're a freelancer. I once had a client ask me "are you worth it?" when he received my invoice at the end of a project. (I know!) The answer is, yes!- he went on to earn a lot of business from that project, and because I took myself seriously, I earned respect... and more clients. Which brings me to...
- Charge what you're worth. It's really easy to want to set low rates when you're starting out, and really easy for some clients to want to talk you down. But since you already take yourself seriously, you've done your research: What are people in your field making? How much money will be taken out for taxes (it's more than you think)? What is my time worth? Sometimes a sliding scale makes sense, or do work for a trade to build up word of mouth- just remember that you need food in your belly and a roof over your head.
- Say No when a project isn't right for you. This may seem silly when you're trying to build business, but you're actually setting yourself up for success. What if you're a fashion blogger and are approached by a farm equipment company wanting you to write about their newest tractor? Chances are both parties will be disappointed due to a lack of interest in the field or different expectations. I recommend practicing saying No in front of a mirror: "Thank you for your interest, but I don't think I would be a good fit for your company. May I recommend (insert writer who writes about the farm industry)?" You still helped them out, and are still seen as an expert because you knew where to direct them.
- Connect with other freelancers. Especially fellow lady freelancers! You'll learn so much more about the industry from those who have been there before you, and they'll give you the honest rundown of what it's like to be doing what we're doing. I found it's been especially helpful as I navigate setting up an LLC and doing quarterly taxes. I can't say it enough- we're stronger together. Just think: shine bright like your friends.
The business of a freelancer can be exciting, scary, and a little tough to understand. Learning as much as we can, and utilizing each other for support can help avoid some of the exploitation freelancers are experiencing today. What other advice to you have?