It's mildly surreal that it's now officially been two years since I started freelancing, and 7 years since I started blogging.
The cool thing is, even during the-not-so great parts freelancing has taught me so much about myself, and where I really truly belong, in this weird, wacky, and charmingly flawed world. I don't think I've ever experienced that to the same extent as I have as a freelance web writer and blogger.
Not long after the two-year mark, things went from being slow to a bunch of really great, new clients and projects. Honestly, it's been a period where I can't help but feel a bit reflective so here goes nothin', a BS-free list, which reveals all the things that I wish I knew when I got started:
1) You have no one to blame for your rates besides yourself
Writers no matter what they're speciality is, are always dangerously hungry to get their name out there when they're just starting out. This leads to this popular assumption, that newbie writers should bite your tongue and accept illegally low payments from your clients.
Although "regular" jobs offer payment based on experience, this is a circumstance where you're your own boss, so you might as well be the best boss you've ever had! By all means, do pro bono work to build up your portfolio, especially on popular websites, but you deserve a generous raise for your work, and the right client for you will be willing to pay you what you're worth.
2) Being intimidated by major sites is pointless
When I was seventeen, I borrowed my mum's New Yorker, and the quality of the work that I read in that magazine was so great, that I was fixated on this toxic belief that I will never be as good as the New Yorker writers that I admired.
A year ago, I sent my first pitch to the Walrus, and even though it was rejected, I realized how silly seventeen-year-old me 's assumption really was. Even though they didn't accept my pitch, it was a great confidence boost, that I think I really needed.
I'll always remember that moment because it gave me the confidence to send ideas to a lot of major businesses and publications. I quickly learned that if my work and ideas were good, and my experiences were relevant, major companies and publications were happy to work with me.
3) Other freelancers aren't your competitors, they're people that you can actually learn stuff from
Although a unique selling point is what will get you work, you're not "competing" against other freelancers, in a traditional sense of the word. Even though you're rarely in the same room together, they're a virtual peer group and are a metaphorical version of the friendly colleague you can small talk about the latest news, at the company water cooler.
Twitter is a great way to communicate with other freelancers, which is why I'm not ashamed to call it my current obsession. I spend more time on Twitter than I do on any other social media network because the networking and community building possibilities are endless. I've also collected better resources from momentary twitter exchanges than I have via other, conventional resource methods.
4) Sometimes the most productive ways to get work done involves changing your environment
Although freelancing often gets the "work from home" label, working from home doesn't necessarily always have to mean well... working from home. Sometimes I just got sick of sitting in the same chair, every single day, and my focus would be massively shitty. When that happens, all it takes is an alternate environment, or a quick walk around the block to get the ideas flowing like normal.
5) Last but not least: you don't have to listen to peoples' opinions about your long-term, freelance goals
This is an important one to end my list with because no matter what, people are going to tell you that you should do something else. Unless they're willing to be open minded, anyone that's not willing to get to know what the freelance lifestyle is really like isn't worth your time.
I feel so lucky to have not only an unconditionally supportive significant other that also freelances but a family that's freelanced a lot, throughout their careers. Not everyone has that, and I think everyone deserves that level of support, especially in year one, where it can sometimes be a bit stressful.
What do you wish you learned when you started freelancing? Feel free to comment, in the comment section below.
Glad to have shared my experiences with you. If you want to learn more about my work, visit my about page.