Advice for Freelancers

Taking a Chance: Should You Go Freelance?

It has been almost a year since I gave up full-time (non-graduate) employment to try my hand at freelance writing. Today’s post a day prompt is about chances, specifically about the biggest one you have ever taken. I have to say quite categorically that leaving secure employment to see if I could make it as a professional writer was the biggest chance I have ever taken. I am not earning a huge amount and I have to be very careful about what I spend but even so, given the chance to go back and do it again, I would.

It took me two months to get my first contract through the content sites of odesk and elance and it built up gradually. Consequently, until the end of 2013 I was living on what little savings I had and the last of my wages from the job – how I managed to stretch that I don’t know! I have learnt a lot about industries I didn’t know existed, and though I am not at liberty to talk about any of my clients past and present, here are some links to work where I have been given full credit:

There have been some long nights, some early starts, some nose-to-the-grindstone days and some weeks where I have had next to nothing to do. Those days are hardly relaxing because you spend just as much time on the computer as you do when you are working because you are looking for new work.

I think this April it has finally paid off – I have just had the busiest two weeks since starting out and I will be working part of the Easter break to get some more done ahead of going away for a few days next week. What are my top tips if you are thinking of doing this?

  1. Be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t either. Expect to get a lot of knockbacks and if you go down the route of content sites like elance and odesk, you will miss out
  2. Take a chance – In the beginning you can’t afford not to. The client might have requirements that are above what you can provide but you might get the work by being “the best of a bad bunch”. You won’t know unless you try
  3. Change your attitude to work – The 9-5 is over, so is the five day week. Bank holidays? Pfft, forget them. You’re going to have a six day week followed by a three day week. You’ll be working until 10:30 tonight and starting work at 2pm tomorrow. The day after that is a Saturday but on Friday morning your client tells you he wants a first on draft Monday morning so do you work Saturday, Sunday or both?
  4. Be flexible – You’re not going to get high-paying jobs at the start because you have no client history and very little in your portfolio, especially if you are starting from scratch as I did. You can’t be too picky, some low-paying contracts could lead to some good opportunities in future. Others will just be for paying the bills
  5. Switch off – You had no work today and you’ve spent six hours looking and applying for work? Yes it’s worrying, but there comes a time when you have to put it out of your mind for another day. Even in the beginning when you are piling in the hours for seemingly little reward, you’re going to need to rest

If you think you can cope with the stress, the self-doubt, the being glued to your laptop, the long hours, sometimes having no work, sometimes having no money… then go for it!


7 thoughts on “Taking a Chance: Should You Go Freelance?

  1. Great post. I wish you continued success. It is scary being a freelancer, but if you can make it work, it has its own rewards. May your success continue long into the future.

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