The two most important characteristics any new full-time freelancer needs to have are patience and motivation.
I was prepared for a slow start to my new career and knew I needed to be motivated to hit the ground running to ensure daily productivity.
I was not prepared for how arduous keeping these two characteristics at the forefront would be. One thing that helps, however, both in weathering the patience and revving up the motivation, as well as getting your freelance career humming, is to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way.
In my opinion, the biggest struggle in the switch from full-time office job to full-time at-home job, even if you are not self-employed, is time management.
It’s easy to get distracted by all of the chores, hobbies, and entertainment options at home.
It’s easy to procrastinate when you are your own boss.
The best way to force yourself to create good time management habits at the start of your new career is to be accountable. In my experience, this has come in the form of not turning any opportunity down so that, for the time being, I have a few bosses to report to.
In the process of completing these projects, and, if you are living the gig life successfully, making people happy with your work, you are also building your network at just the moment you need it. These first few clients may not pay as much as you are hoping, they may be more demanding as you may not have worked out the kinks of contract negotiation, but they are the first to be able to offer testimonials.
So say yes to that non-profit project even though your client can’t pay you. Pro bono work not only gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart, but you can also use the results in your portfolio.
Also, say yes to that project for a friend even though it’s not quite the exact type of work you want to be doing full-time. It may open the door to future projects and, if you do a good job, your friend will promote your skills which may help you get more referrals.
Lastly, say yes to that corporate LTE job even though it pays less than you were hoping. As their needs and budget increase you may be given bigger projects at the rate you want for this repeat customer.
The Bottom Line
When you first get started don’t turn down any opportunity for work because these first few clients will build the foundation of your future business through their networks and word-of-mouth referrals.