Hello friends! I recently made a huge career and lifestyle decision: I quit my cozy 9-5 office job as an in-house graphic designer. Full time freelancing is something I have dreamed of for many years, and I finally built up the courage to take the jump into focusing on freelance! I thought I might make a post about my first few weeks and what I have learned so far.
1. When motivation is running low… Get out of the house!
I am very fortunate to have a sister who also owns her own small business, and has an extra desk in her home office. Several times a week I trek out to her house with my laptop and we’ll spend the day working side by side. My own home office can get a little old after a few days, and bringing my work elsewhere almost tricks my body into feeling like I’m ‘going to work’. After a year and a half in an office job, sitting at the same desk and seeing the same people, bringing a bit of variety to my work space is a much welcomed change! Next we are meeting at a coffee shop on my side of town to change things up for both of us!
2. Nothing beats some good ol’ fashioned local networking!
Before ditching my 9-5, I made little time for networking and meeting other creatives in my city. Now that I have much more time to devote to scouting out my local network, I am able to attend events of all types here in Madison. After attending just one Freelacer’s Union event, I have met some really inspiring freelancers who have begun to introduce me to the freelancing / small business scene. I am even working with some of them to help promote future Freelancer’s Union events!
3. Having more than enough time to myself means I no longer feel guilty doing things just for me.
When I was devoting 40 hours of every week to a job that didn’t particularly thrill me, the rest of my time that was left over felt SO. FREAKIN’. PRECIOUS. After allotting time for my commute, making food, grocery shopping, errand running, working on side projects, and (who would have thought!?) having a semblance of a social life, I felt selfish for certain personal health practices. Making time for meditation and yoga? Good luck clearing your head when you’ve only got 20 minutes! Taking the time to have a relaxing bath or even just cuddle my cat? No way, that’s taking away from precious sleep time. Now that I decide when I work and how much I work (and have abandoned the notion that I need to work exactly 40 hours to feel ‘successful’) my time actually feels much more valuable, whether I’m working on a logo gig or spending 5 minutes in tree pose.
4. Using the buddy system is a great way to get things done!
Having a business buddy to bounce ideas off of is a great way to hold yourself accountable for the things on your to do list. Keeping each other in check with your entrepreneurial priorities and staying focused is mutually beneficial, and can help stave off some new solopreneur loneliness. Working with those who have similar business goals or a similar mission can offer great insight into aspects of running a business that you may have over looked. Not to mention that finding your tribe of like minded people does amazing things for all aspects of your life, not just your business! Don’t have any freelancer friends? Many cities have meet ups of varying sizes for just this type of thing! A quick search on meetup.com may assist you!
5. I spent too much time waiting around for the RIGHT moment to take the jump.
Was I financially, emotionally and mentally ready to make the jump to freelance? Did I have x amount of money saved up before hand? Did I have just the right amount of projects pre-lined up? You bet your butt I didn’t. Now, I didn’t close my eyes and make a running start before canon-balling right into the freelance-o-sphere, I had been designing on the side for over a year. I do consider myself to be quite the risk taker, and even though I was filled with nerves and (gasp!) some self doubt, I knew that this was going to be one of the best decisions I ever made for my business. In fact, I actually made my decision to focus more on freelance during a particularly hectic and emotional time in my life. I found myself fed up with the excuses I was making about why I needed to stick with the 9-5 that was no longer serving me emotionally and creatively. Even though I made this jump in the midst of a personal upheaval, all of the positive aspects of my new lifestyle have really brought home how badly I needed to make this change. Not only for my business, but for my own personal gains.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my first few weeks as a freelance designer! Each freelancer’s journey will be different, so I don’t consider my route to be viewed as a guideline. I am still figuring things out for myself (and probably will be for quite some time…) but I would love to hear from my readers about their own freelancing experiences! Do you love it? What are you struggling with? What can I write about next time to benefit my fellow soloprenuers?