We are thrilled to bring our freelance community a LIVE Yellow Room discussion with Jon Younger PhD. Jon is an HR thought leader. Author of best-selling freelance book Agile Talent. Forbes contributor and advisory board member for several freelance startups.
Self-management is the most important skill freelancers need to ensure they are reaping the benefits of the freelancer life.
Everyone wants to live the life of a freelancer, be their own boss, and take ownership of their own life.
Why the freelancer life?
Flexibility to work at your preferred time, earn as much as you can, and work without too many restrictions is very tempting.
However, you should commit to deal with the challenges that come with it as well as the perks.
The need and difficulty to structure life and improve self-management is the main challenge that hinders the freelancer high performance and quality deliverables.
Follow the thinking …
Having a flexible work arrangement is not new to people but working completely on your own is different.
When freelancing, you don’t need to deal with commute, the stressful 9 to 5 sign in and out, or even coming up with excuses to run your own personal errands.
These perks are worth the shift to be your own boss. They come with their fair share of challenges though that require discipline, commitment and a good plan to overcome.
You are your brand after all – the more good work you deliver the more projects come your way.
Not all milk and honey
Here’s some of the challenges in a freelancer life – will you be able to manage them?
1. Me time
When you are working from home, people view you as the lucky one. In a way this is correct considering all the perks that come along with this lifestyle.
However, when you are freelancing, you do not have the option most of the time to focus only on your area of expertise and role requirements.
You need to juggle between working on the project at hand, seeking new clients, lining up new projects, promoting yourself, managing your online presence and brand, invoicing clients, following up on payments, etc.
It can get hectic and stressful. A disciplined, structured work style is important.
The thought of working from the comfort of home may please you, but at the same time, the thought of running out of work can freak you out.
You will need a constant flow of work to keep you busy as well as allowing you to plan your time and finances.
Once again, disciplined finance management and budgeting is crucial for a freelancer, and it may be a good idea to have a buffer fund to cover costs during leaner months.
3. Attracting clients
Not being a pro at sales and marketing is another source of stress for any freelancer.
Being exceptional at your work is important, but what’s most important, is being visible to clients and reaching out to them, that’s the only way to stay in business.
Most professionals are not uncomfortable in selling their skills and expertise and the closest experience to doing this was an interview or panel presentation.
Afterall, we are not all skilled consultants and even the top functional specialists find discomfort in selling themselves.
Finding clients is one of the biggest challenges to manage even for those with sizeable networks. The fact that clients are basically what keeps a freelance business alive makes this a big challenge.
4. Staying Motivated
Staying motivated is one of the challenges you’ll face living the freelancer life. Being on your own without teammates can get lonely.
Especially, when the closest you come to meeting clients, is a phone call, online video chat, or an invite to bid for a project.
If you’ve ever been a salaried employee, you can probably relate to the experience of suddenly realizing that you’ve been sitting at your desk staring blankly at your computer screen for a while.
Let alone doing this while working on your own in silence for days.
You might get bored with a project you’re working on. Or you might get bored waiting for the right project.
Whatever the cause, there are ways to motivate yourself and stay engaged.
A freelancer life can be lonely, yes.
Calls from family members and friends on issues that can wait are inevitable and distracting. When you work from home, others assume you can easily take care of chores or meet up for coffee and chat.
You will face those distractions and it’ll be tough to avoid them. But the fact of the matter is that Facebook, coffee chats, and every other distraction is a lost opportunity.
Tips and tricks
Here’s some tips to address the above:
- Find the right platform that can assist you in presenting your profile in the most professional manner to clients that are in need for your services, as well as managing the invoicing and collection. This could be key for you to focus on your projects and have some free time to enjoy life and live up to the hype of freelancing.
- The right platform should handle your profile and match it with available projects – the best workspaces are the ones that can provide you the opportunity to apply or engage on international projects; thus, not restricting yourself to what’s available locally.
- Ensure you spend enough time creating your profile and display testimonials or references. This allows anyone who lands on your profile to get a feeling for what working with you might be like, and it can help build trust.
This is especially true if you display testimonials together with a video promoting your skills and motivating for getting the work.
- Take on work that you enjoy during a specific work schedule. This is one of the best ways to ensure you stay motivated and keep enjoying what you do and live the freelancer life.
- Take measures to limit stress. This can be as simple as implementing a morning routine involving something you enjoy, like reading or going to the gym or simply taking a walk, before you sit down to work.
Better yet, read, read and read to upskill yourself and stay updated with the newest trends in your industry.
- To help you avoid distractions, try listening to music through headphones and build a playlist of whatever music helps you stay focused.
- Prevent yourself from browsing distracting sites and try to block phone notifications during your work allocated time.
Hope this helps on this journey.
Freelancing is a lifestyle choice, not only a source of income.
Embrace it in its entirety and enjoy!
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