Now I know you may all be fed up with hearing about resolutions, plans and ideas for 2012 already but just bear with me a little because it’s my intention to make your freelancing life (and mine) a little easier this year.
Over the last week or so I have been feeling sorry for myself and taking part in a little pity party. I’ve hurt my back (it hurts a lot) and so have spent most of the last week lying in bed or resting up and thinking about everything and anything. Part of my thinking involved my freelancing life last year and while a lot of my reminiscing made me feel all warm and cosy inside, I also got to face a few home truths and identify what didn’t work.
So, with an urge to share my new found wisdom with my fellow freelancing folk, here are the eight things I’m going to STOP doing this year as a freelancer. It’s my hope that a few of them might help you too. Here goes:
1) STOP worrying
If I had a pound for every minute I spent worrying myself silly last year, I’d be a pretty wealthy freelancer right now. In 2011, I worried about freelancing constantly – ‘What if I never find work? What if I never get paid? How will I sort out my accounts? What if I make a mess of the client’s work? How am I going to fit it all in?’ … you get the picture. And for all that worrying? Well guess what? I’m still here, still alive, still working and still managing to make a pretty decent living. My lesson learnt? Worrying will get you nowhere so don’t do it (if you can help it).
2) STOP comparing myself to others
Some form of comparison is healthy when you’re a freelancer. We need to have a good idea of who our competition is, what they offer and how much they charge. That’s all fine. The problem is when it becomes ‘unhealthy’, when we start to think that everyone else is better, or doing better, than us. Last year, when the work front was a little quiet, I would sometimes find myself falling into that dangerous trap of envying other freelancers. Pathetic I know.
This year, I refuse to think like that again and I’m celebrating me and brand ‘Katie Portman.’ I’m going to look inside, rather than out and appreciate everything I have to offer. Instead of wishing I had someone else’s success, I’m going to concentrate on becoming the best freelancer I can be and let everyone else get on with doing the same. Much healthier.
3) STOP putting things off
We all have them. Those boring, irritating jobs that need doing that we just keep putting off, for as long as we possibly can. Admin jobs are my idea of hell but this year rather than push them to the bottom of my to-do list, I’m going to tackle them straight away. I learnt last year, that if I don’t sort out the little jobs, they soon evolve into a monstrous ball of stress that ruins my freelance mojo. So dig deep and get the rubbish jobs done as soon as you can bear it. Your sanity will thank you.
4) STOP working with nightmare clients
This is the single, biggest lesson that I learnt last year and boy, am I glad I did. After a few challenging experiences, I realised that nightmare clients just aren’t worth the hassle, regardless of how skint I am.
Admittedly, it’s tricky to spot them at first but here are a few warning signs that should trigger your suspicions: they never pay you on time, they place unfair demands on you, they don’t respect your skills or experience, they’re not professional and finally, the big one, they’re just not very nice, at all. This year, join me in picking self-respect over the dollar and only choose clients whom are a pleasure to work with AND know.
5) STOP wasting time
We’ve all done it. You wake up, think to yourself, I’ll just have another half an hour in bed and before you know it, you’re getting up at lunchtime and stressing over the million things you’ve got to do. Working as a freelancer, especially from home, means that you’re constantly being lured by time-wasting temptations but this year I’m fighting back.
I’d rather get my work done quicker and really enjoy my spare time then waste it because I’m just not in the mood for work or I’m having a lazy moment. Time wasting stuff is hard to resist, but resist we must, if we want to earn a living and get the right work/ life balance.
6) STOP working for free (unless I really want to)
Last year I lost track of the number of times I was asked to write, work or give up my time for FREE. It seems that as soon as you say you work for yourself or more significantly, that you work as a freelancer writer of some description, people everywhere, from all walks of life, expect you to work for free or out of the goodness of your heart.
In 2011, I shared my wisdom and time with a couple of start-up freelancers who didn’t even say thank you for my help (luckily I met many others who were fabulous and did). I wrote a press release for a charity, that didn’t have the courtesy to say thank for my efforts but yet still used my release and wrote articles for a few blog editors who didn’t tell me until after that they “couldn’t afford to pay for writers”.
It never fails to amaze me, how often I’m offered a wonderful ‘opportunity’ that requires me to give so much, yet offers nothing or very little in return. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that under no circumstances should we not work OCCASIONALLY for free.
Sometimes it makes sense or is just a good thing to do, but I for one am going to be much stricter this year and choosing my ‘non-payment’ projects very carefully. As freelancers, our time is our money and our skills and experience are precious, so let’s use them wisely.
7) STOP overthinking things
I had so many good ideas last year but many of them just never got off the ground, simply because I spent too much time thinking and mulling things over instead of just getting on with the doing. A year wiser, I’m no longer going to fret about if it’s the right time or if it’s the right thing to do, I’m just going to go with my gut and do it. Simple.
8) STOP forgetting how brilliant freelancing is
Now I’ve been freelancing for just under 18 months, I often forget how lucky I am to be earning a living and working for myself. Like much in life, I often take it for granted.
But on Tuesday morning this week, when most of the world was getting ready to go back to work and my Twitter and Facebook feeds were filled with people whinging about going back to jobs they don’t like or enjoy, I had a lightbulb moment. I realised I wasn’t one of them.
So this year, when times are tough or money is low, I’m going to hang on to that thought and remind myself that I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t dread my work, I love it! How many other people can say that and truly mean it?
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s wishing you all a very successful and creative freelancing year. Go get ’em! ;-) x