Looking over some of my favorite freelance blogs, I’ve been noticing a trend. A lot of stress relief posts, “beat the freelance blahs”, and posts about what to do when you don’t get paid for your freelance work.
Notice anything in common there? A great deal of unhappiness is implied in all three subjects. But we became (or are becoming) freelancers to be FREE, right? What’s the deal with all this misery?
Here are four things you can do to reduce misery, get paid more, and enjoy your freelance life. I use each and every one of these in my daily freelance work and trust me, it pays off over time.
DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME
I started selling vinyl records on eBay and doing record collector shows. It’s something I have a real passion for, so it doesn’t feel like work to me. The extra income REALLY helps.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing to shore up your income as long as you truly enjoy it and can make it work for you–I strongly encourage all freelancers to find an extra way to earn money that has nothing to do with their current gig and is directly tied in to something they love.
FIRE YOUR CLIENTS
Not ALL your clients, mind you–that would be silly. The good ones are worth their weight in gold. But the Idea-Of-The-Week people, the Let’s Take A Meeting Every Day people, the I Treat You Like My Servant and I Demand Your Attention Right This Instant people, they have to go.
The reason? The time suck alone is costing you money. Do a serious, top-down evaluation of your freelance clients and see who is prunable and who is not. I bet you already have at least one in mind right this second as you read this.
YOU MAKE THE RULES
I once had a client–who I fired in short order–who tried to drive the schedule in unreasonable ways when it came to standard deliverables. We’re not talking about special projects or time-sensitive material, this was standard stuff with standard completion routines.
I made the mistake of asking him when he wanted the material instead of telling him “This is how long it will take”. Bad move. But I won in the end because I don’t like being treated like a robot. Sure, it cost me some money. But the time I saved let me chase down better clients.
Avoiding burnout is one of the single most important things you do as a freelancer. Burned out writers, editors, etc. are useless–they don’t earn money, they don’t finish projects on time, they get out of shape, restless and lazy. Do not be like them. Take frequent breaks, stretch, exercise, and treat yourself well. The happier you are, the better work you will do in the end, make no mistake.
Social commentators say that we are living in the most selfish era in recent memory. So be it–BE SELFISH and look after yourself. That’s all!
Joe Wallace writes about finance, veterans issues, and manages social media accounts for a variety of clients. Contact him about new opportunities at jwallace@freelance (dash) zone (dot) com. Wallace is a freelancer by day, Chicago electronic musician and record seller by night. He’s the one behind all the snarky commentary and strange travel writing about the joys of vinyl collecting at Turntabling.net.