Five Lessons Learned in my First Six Months as a Freelancer

Recently, I celebrated the six-month anniversary of opening the doors on my freelance writing business. I consider the day my LLC was approved to be my business’ “birthday.” And like any new parent, I have experienced joy and “What the $%#$ am I doing?” moments in equal measure.

Although my experiences in the publishing industry encompass a near-decade, this is the first time I have gone out on my own full-time. I’m sure many of you will agree that starting a chapter as a solopreneur is thrilling, daunting, exciting, testing, freeing, and challenging all at the same time (see emotions described above).

With my fresh perspective of the freelance world, I’d like to share some of the insights and epiphanies I’ve gleaned from my first six months for fellow One Woman Shops to learn from.

1. Learn to love a routine.

Although organization and orderliness is imperative in a freelancer’s career, we freelancers also tend to be a creative lot that thrives on the unexpected. Those unplanned moments are fabulous for inspiration, but leaving a workday to chance won’t always bode well for your business. Start your morning with a daily yoga class. Poach those eggs. Get dressed. Discover the routine that works best for you, and stick to it. Don’t turn on Gilmore Girls and get sucked in. (Cough, I have a friend who does this, cough…)

2. Overcome your fear of self-promotion.

Freelancing requires gumption, patience, and of course, talent. But in today’s digital age, it also requires bragging in the best sense possible. If you won’t talk yourself up, who will? I share my latest published work on Facebook and announce blog posts on Twitter without giving it a second thought (but not to the point of clogging peoples’ feeds). Marketing, especially free marketing, is oxygen to a solopreneur.

3. Don’t rely on coffee alone.

I wasn’t a regular coffee drinker before I started my business, and now I find myself making frequent trips to the Keurig. Coffee is good, but what’s even better is a midday walk in the sunshine with my dog or lighting a peppermint-scented candle. Solopreneurs are famous for burning the midnight oil — especially when just starting out — so find your ideal energy boosts.

4. Create an inspiring workspace.

Some freelancers are content to type away at a kitchen table or park themselves at a coffee shop. Personally, I’m all about creating atmosphere, so when I first started my business, I overhauled my home office. And I pretty much did it for free. I made an inspiration board of words, images, and photos. I bought a castoff office cabinet from the local university for $5. I set up an extensive library of publications I plan to pitch to. Now my office says, “Someone successful works here.” (It also might say, “Boy, someone sure likes bright colors.”)

5. Be authentic.

When I began this journey, I knew that my top priority was to be authentic in everything I do. Across my social media channels, website, and my dealings with clients both virtual and in-person, what you see is what you get. Authenticity builds a foundation of trust more than canned words ever will. When you put yourself out there, put your whole self out there — quirks and all. It will pay off in your career and for you personally as well.

These are a few of the major discoveries I’ve made in the early stages of my journey that I hope can help fellow solopreneurs. I like to think I must be doing something right because this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my professional life. If we were all together in real life right now, this would be the time we would high-five each other and bask in our mutual solopreneur awesomeness.

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1 Comment on Five Lessons Learned in my First Six Months as a Freelancer

  1. Kaitin Fowlie
    May 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm (12 months ago)

    Love this. 5 on-point lessons. Authenticity on the freelance journey makes things easier on you (less pressure of “trying to be something you’re not”) and it’s just good for biz (“everything’s been said before, but not by you.”)

    Reply

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