Five Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Freelancing

Mindy Long Byline1. Reaching out to those you know for work isn’t as scary as it seems. The first time I drafted an email to colleagues and former co-workers letting them know I was hanging my own shingle and that I’d love to work for them, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know how they’d react and somehow asking for work felt desperate. Luckily, within minutes I had several replies offering congratulations and opportunities to work together. That was about four years ago and I am still working with all of the people who responded to my initial email.

2. Don’t be afraid to turn down work. When you’re livelihood depends on making a sale, it can be tempting to take on any project that comes your way. But, the truth is, you can do more harm than good when taking on work that doesn’t suit you. As a freelancer, your reputation is crucial, so taking on a project that doesn’t draw on your strengths or doesn’t match with your standards is a bad idea. You might be interested in this short post I wrote a few years ago after turning down a big project. 

3. Build in time for office tasks. When I first started freelancing, I underestimated how much time it would take to deal with invoicing and routine home-office chores. I’m still finding ways to streamline running my business, but now I know to factor in office work into my weekly routine.

4. Work within your designated workspace. While I could cart my laptop to any room in my house or work from a coffee shop down the street, I do better when I’m at my desk in my home office. Having my phone and files at my fingertips saves me time and being at my desk puts me in my work mode, so I am less likely to spend time surfing the web or catching up with friends on Facebook. Utilizing my home office space also helps keep my work space and family space separate (see this related post). 

5. Make time for writing events, coffee meetings or meet ups with other writers. When you have a full plate, heading off for a lunch date or devoting an entire saturday to a workshop can seem like a poor use of time. However, those meetings can leave you walking away feeling more energized and enthused about your own work. When you sit back down to write, the chances are you’ll have a little more spring in your step, which I swear can show through in the written word.

How about you? What do you know now that you wish you’d known then, be it about writing, motherhood or anything else?

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