Earlier this year I said I’d quit my job, go travel and then start freelancing. I did one and two, and now I’m pursuing my third promise to myself.
It’s scary and fun. It’s challenging and rewarding. And I think it’s a lifestyle that fits me. I like to be flexible and do what I want whenever I want. I know, very millennial of me, but the opportunities are here!
Plus, there’s a reason I want to do this. I want to create an environment in which I get to spend more time actually writing, work fewer hours while earning sufficient income. And I know it’s possible.
Ever since I got back from South America, I had the travel blues, but I also needed to start building a business. A business with me as the sole employee.
I’ve learned a lot in this month of starting and I hope I can help other people who are considering to start for themselves too.
Starting and Setting Up Shop
So the travel blues kind of got in the way of starting straight away. I sorted my pictures and reminisced. However, I started to write and publish more. I almost wrote one article every weekday. That was an improvement!
Writing is one of the aspects I earn a moderate amount of money with. However, it’s definitely not enough to live off.
So I took account, what are my skills? I have years of experience in social media marketing and online marketing in general. I’ve developed content for my own company as well as others. So, the first thing I set out to do was to seek clients. Before I got to do that, I needed to start and arrange some administrative stuff.
Like registering at the chamber of commerce, opening a bank account, etc.
Another thing I did was to interview a couple of friends and acquaintances who are successful freelancers. I mean earning $5,000 or more per month. How did they get there? How do they get clients? How do they manage their money and insurance? How do they know what to charge? All the answers to these questions provided me with a game plan and resources I could use to set myself up.
What is it you’re good at? What can you offer the world? What sources of income can you realize? Do you know where to start? Do you have access to people who can help? Sit down for an hour and develop a game plan.
In the future, I’d like to put out more books, online courses and perhaps coaching too. All these could potentially result in extra sources of income.
Passive vs. Active Income Streams
Ideally, I’d like to create both passive and active sources of income.
eBooks, online courses and coaching could provide me with potential passive income streams. Sure, they require a lot of work to set up, and it’s never a given that you actually make sales. But with a good promotional plan, you might surprise yourself.
Trading my hours for marketing and communication work is a source of ‘active’ income for me. Writing articles for Medium falls in this category too. The trick is to find something you’re happy to trade your time for.
I know, we can’t be happy with our job all of the time, but we can sure try to find something we like the most. You spend many of your waking hours working, so spend them enjoying yourself at least.
In the future, I hope that passive income streams will outweigh the active income streams because that’s aligned with my goal of spending even more time writing.
Attracting My First Clients
This is the challenging part. Here you have to market yourself, and it’s been 8 years since my last job interview. I didn’t even have a proper CV…
I started calling some people in my network of which I knew they might have something for me. I actually indicated that I would freelance after my travels before I even left. Two of those have already put me in charge of social media marketing! So my first 8 hours or so per week are filled. Next to about 12 hours I spent writing Medium articles each week.
A third asked me to build a website, which will take me about 20–30 hours in total.
I have a few more people who have something for me in the near future, so I’m off to a great start. Your network is definitely the first place to go when you start looking for clients.
Next week, I will also put a message on the social channels that I’m freelancing and looking for clients. Plus I mention it to almost everyone I speak to. This has even resulted in a small gig on the side already.
The next steps are to be more active on Linkedin as well, although I have already updated my account.
Yesterday I had an interview with a recruiter who works at a company that matches freelancers with employers who are searching for skilled marketeers filling a temporary position. Hopefully, they can match me.
What was striking to me is that is all takes a lot of time from phone call to actually starting, let alone come on an interview.
The lesson I’ve learned here is to always have my eyes on the ball and carve out some time each week to secure clients and gigs.
Planning and Freedom
The freelance lifestyle sounds ideal for many people. Same goes for me. Freedom, flexibility, perhaps a digital nomad lifestyle. But don’t be tricked by that flexibility. You are in charge of your own schedule.
A month in, I still find it hard to have some sort of routine for myself, although I’m getting better. I read upon other freelancers and their routines for support.
I still have a bit of overlap between work and free time. If any of you reading this have any tips for me to overcome this, I’d be happy to hear them.
On the other hand, I’ll easily write in the evenings as well or do something to further my writing career. This is also due to the fact that I love it. But still, I’m actively doing something and I need my re-loading time too.
So there are still some planning challenges here. Also because all the work I do now, I do from home. I’m hoping to find a two-day gig at an office. Both to meet new people and leave work at the office at the end of the day.
The First Results
As I said, I have 3 clients, one temporary, the other two at least until the end of the year. I have some potential clients in the works.
I upped my Medium game by producing more articles, but since I’ve been traveling for a few months and posted less, it takes a while for things to lift off again.
I also just published a new eBook, which is doing quite well to my pleasant surprise.
Next week I’ll start working on making an online course.
I secured some state benefits to support starting entrepreneurs, so all in all, I have sufficient income. Yay!
Worries and Anxieties
The downside of freelancing is obviously the insecurity and coping with it. There are days that I’m proud of myself for taking this step and days that I want to throw it all away and secure a full-time job.
Will I earn enough money? Now and in two months. Am I good enough at what I do for people to hire me? Will I be able to develop a nice routine which makes me productive but also takes into account my health?
To overcome those worries, I just try to be logical and take action. Trying to secure more clients and other gigs. Striving to deliver the best work possible. Learning more about freelancing by talking to people and reading about tips and tricks. In the end, educating yourself constantly tames that money mind.