Experienced freelancers share their tips for anyone going it alone in 2021

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To find out, we took to Twitter and sought advice from creatives who went it alone and never looked back. We share some of their top tips below. (And for more tips, check out the original thread in full, here.)

1. Build the experience first

Yes, it is possible to become independent without ever working in a design studio or a creative agency. But if you can gaining some experience in this area will be of great benefit to you once you become independent.

Knowing how to present, deliver briefings, deal with clients, and even just getting correct emails with clients will make freelance work easier for you and everyone you work with. So please don’t feel like you have to rush to become self-employed, or that it doesn’t have to be a sudden and absolute break from paid employment.

As a photographer and videographer Thom bartley emphasizes, “You don’t have to do your job and do everything at the same time. If you can start your business in your spare time, then gradually reduce your hours until you can make the complete change, it’s a little easier and safer. “

2. Build a network

Yes, being self-employed means that you can do a lot of work on your own. But no one is an island, and you will need people to help you build your career. So above all, don’t underestimate anyone.

Everyone is a potential contact: even your coworkers or less experienced people. So be civilized. Build bridges rather than burn them down. Keep in touch with people. Share their tweets with others. Do nice things for them.

“Networking doesn’t have to be in person,” stresses host and illustrator Rosie phillpot. “I know social media isn’t for everyone, but I’ve made so many connections by engaging with people in the industry and sharing my work online. These connections have led to the majority of my inquiries and my work. “

D&AD artist and judge June Mineyama-Smithson adds that you should: “Join a freelance community or entrepreneur club to ask and give advice. The collective wisdom and support is wonderful. Find a co-mentor to pat and kick your shoulder. buttocks. “

Jewelry designer Lucille Merlan could not agree more. “I’m fortunate to have ‘met’ people through online business groups who have held my hand through some really tough times over the past few years,” she shares. “The people who supported me with the trolls, and the people I now consider friends. And it’s fantastic to help in return.”

3. Treat clients even better than the next freelancer

Success as a freelance writer depends in part on the work itself. But it’s also about treating clients well and rising in their estimate more than the average freelancer.

Part of this is talking to each other. “Be very communicative every step of the way, even if it seems overkill,” Rosie recommends. “Another big lesson I learned is to treat the more informal clients – people you know, side jobs, etc. – exactly the same as any other client.”

” I’m here. Do you need something ? This simple phrase can do wonders for your freelance career. Customers are always busy, and your nudge may just be the reminder that prompts them to ask for more work. Another useful phrase is, “Did you also know that I can do this too?” ”

Do it right, and the dividends will be huge. As an artist and designer Marc Leary says, “Your customers can be one of your biggest promoters and will scream your praise if you give them a reason. “

Success as a freelance writer depends in part on the work itself. But it’s also about treating clients well and rising in their estimate more than the average freelancer.

4. Learn to walk away

Obviously, you need clients to make money as a freelance writer. But bad customers can make your life a mess. Life is short, so know your worth and know when to walk away if the relationship isn’t working out.

“Make yourself comfortable saying no, without being rude,” advises the illustrator. Colin Kersley. “Saying yes to everything will exhaust you, lead plans in the wrong direction, or leave you working for rates that are not equal to the value you and your work add.”

Designate Rob richardson agrees. “Sack clients early, at the first sign of a red flag,” he advises. “They won’t get better, and there are plenty of good ones out there.”

5. There are different ways to grow taller

There’s no coating: the first two years will be tough as you strive to gain customers – the kind of bread and butter you need to pay the bills. But once you’re established, you should be able to start charging new clients higher daily rates and start reducing the number of people you work for while making more money overall.

Over time, there are two ways you can increase your freelance income. You can either consider expanding your services by starting a business, hiring other freelancers, etc. Or you can go the other way around and specialize. Either is good – it’s about what works for you.

Despite what some people will tell you, there is nothing wrong with staying small and specialized. As a media trainer Scott Hamilton says, “Growing up or dying” is nonsense. So many professional contacts have told me that I need to grow, hire people and keep growing in order to be successful. It took me years to realize that there was nothing wrong with “it’s just me”.

Designate Brendan Kearns agrees. “You don’t need a huge team, or in some cases a team at all, to be extremely profitable,” he says. “Crop the ‘scale’ goal from a team size goal to a goal of net profit per person, without working excessive hours. Workforce is a terrible indicator of a business’s success. “

6. Have patience and don’t burn yourself out

Follow all of these tips, work hard and treat people well, and you should ultimately be successful as a freelance writer. But you’ll need something else, says graphic designer Paul Wolterink: “Endless patience. What you sow now might come back to you much later.”

Also, be sure to protect your physical and mental health along the way. “One of the best advantages of freelance work is that every day can be different”, notes the graphic designer Mina Shah. “But after a while it can get exhausting – which I never would have thought. So establishing some form of routine, however rude, really helps.”

Most importantly, dig your own furrow and don’t spend too much time comparing yourself to other freelancers. As an artist and social entrepreneur Anna b sexton notes, “No one else really knows exactly what they’re doing, at any point in their career. a service based on values ​​at the heart of your offer. “



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