Mark's Musings

Mark Atkinson – Content Writer

A freelancer’s guide to earning a living

I recently interviewed a high-flying marketing VP who had for a short period in the past tried her hand at freelancing. “I couldn’t even hack it for a year,” she told me.

As a freelancer, generating the work to earn a living is one thing. Then there’s doing your own admin, your own accounts, writing your own emails, chasing payments – and so it goes on. While some might perceive freelancing as a bit of an easy option, what it very often means is working every hour God sends. Here are a few of my own thoughts I’ve picked up along the way.

Be disciplined, but inspired

You’re your own boss, so work you own hours, whatever suits you best. You may be more fired-up to write first thing in the morning. You may be more productive in the evening – many writers are. You may like the flexibility of going to see the kids’ school play, then putting in the time after they’ve gone to bed.

But having this kind of flexibility is not an excuse to do no work. You need to put in the hours if you want to earn any kind of a living. Do whatever works for you, but discipline yourself. It’s far harder to do when you work from home.

At the same time, it can be easy to become uninspired by keeping yourself restricted to the same working routine with little variation. Going for a walk, cycle, jog or sitting in the tub are all great opportunities to distract and inspire yourself at the same time.

Don’t let a technology failure destroy your life

Back up everything – all the time. Don’t only save your work every couple of minutes, but have a memory stick plugged into your computer and back up on there also. Once a week as a minimum, back up everything onto an external hard disk. In fact, have two of them. I recently tried to access data from a hard disk that I had bought just a few months before only to find it had been corrupted. Thankfully, I had everything backed up onto a second.

If your computer or printer crashes at a critical moment, or if something happens to your Internet connection, you have no office IT administrator to help you, and Murphy’s Law dictates it will happen at the most inconvenient time. If you can, have a back-up computer and printer to see you through while you’re getting up and running again.

Enjoy the ups, accept the downs

There are certainly many upsides to freelancing. You have the flexibility to put aside what you’re doing at the drop of a hat to see the kids’ school play – apart from those times when you have looming deadlines pulling you from pillar to post.

A big plus is not having to deal with office politics. You may have the type of personality where you need the interaction of others in an office. If so, don’t freelance which can often be quite solitary. Personally, it suits me to avoid the chit chat that so often goes hand-in-hand with office life.

At the end of the day, for any hard core freelancer there’s one inescapable fact. Once it’s in your blood, there comes a point of no return. It’s the point when all the comforts of a regular job no longer hold the appeal they might once have done, even if you know your life might be far easier, you’d make far more money and have much more time off. At that stage, for better or worse, nothing will be the same again.

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This entry was posted on February 3, 2014 by in Business general and tagged , .


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Mark's Musings

Mark Atkinson - Content Writer

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