Some things to know before becoming a full time freelancer

Today’s world is constantly changing. The idea of having to wake up at 7am, get ready and rush to work has become a thing of the past, at least for many. More and more people in digital crafts are taking life in their own hands and building their own schedule, picking only the clients they want to work with and choosing the space they find the most comfortable to perform their job in. However, does that work out for everybody?

I’ve been freelancing for most of my career – even when I had a job, I used to take gigs on the side. At the beginning, I would say yes to almost every project, every little idea. I was just happy that there was something I could do extra and I didn’t mind the plus dollars. However, for some time, I didn’t really have a life apart from my code, which I didn’t mind at first, but became more and more a burden, to the extent where I’d meet people for a coffee and work in the meantime (yeah, that actually happened). It wasn’t because I was workaholic, but rather that deadlines were pressing and I didn’t like missing them.

The first thing I learned from that was that when there are many opportunities, we need to be able to filter them. It’s not an easy thing at all – but the biggest temptation, when you’re not experienced, is to say yes. Yes to everything. You won’t think about how big the workload is, how little you sleep or how rarely you will get to see your friends – you will say yes, because people need you. If you’re unable to say no – you gotta learn to do that, or it’s not gonna work out well for you.

Another important aspect of being a freelancer is how able you are at your craft. While it’s extremely easy to overestimate your own abilities, it’s very important to keep your feet on the ground, otherwise you’ll just be a major disappointment. Make sure you can do what you’re being employed for, or just simply say you can’t. The worst that can happen is you won’t get the contract, which might suck, sure, but at least you won’t ruin it for anyone else. I’ve seen a ton of self-proclaimed professionals with an absurdly high rate that are simply incompetent and ended up ruining projects because they claimed they could do stuff they had no idea how to. Don’t be one of them.

Something I’d like to mention and I believe bears great importance is the ability to have some sort of a schedule and be disciplined about it. Most clients expect you to be available between a certain timeframe anyway. I can’t speak for absolutely everyone (props to those who can keep it up like this!) – but it usually goes like this: starts off extremely well, then your sleep gets derailed, your focus starts diminishing and you end up feeling like not even opening your laptop. You don’t have to wake up at 7 everyday, but it helps creating some habits and mix them with your work. For example – start going to the gym, find one on your way to where you work – make a habit to go to the gym first and then straight to the office.

Oh yeah, one more thing – even though it’s cool, don’t work from home for more than one day a week. It’s simply not sustainable. Unless there’s a pretty good reason for it (like having to take care of somebody), don’t do it. Work in a cafe, find a co-work space; heck, it’s even better to grab a blanket and work in the park. If you spend too much time at home, you will not even find a reason to leave your house after a while.

These are some aspects I consider everyone should keep in mind before fully committing to a career of freelancing . I don’t think most people even think about them beforehand, to be honest, but they will become very important after a while. I hope this article will help you deal with them properly. Cheers!

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