I work as a full-time freelance writer. And the only question I get asked more than, what are you writing, is, how the hell do you pull this off? I don’t know what works for everyone, but I can talk about what works for me. Maybe something in here can answer your questions, or help inspire you to make those giant baby steps to a life that feels more right for you.
You’ve got to really want to do this. Before you jump ship on your job right now you have to consider the fact that all personal boundaries of work and time will be dismantled. It will take you a while to find those again, so you have to really love this particular way of making money. It is a feast or famine life. I was a little lucky when I started because I was a lot like a person walking the plank. I was finishing grad school, the life I was living was quickly dismantled and I had nothing to lose. I had no job so I had to make money somehow. That sink or swim kind of mentality was crucial for me. I had to hustle or I would have had to live in my parents basement again.
If you are transitioning out a steady job but want to freelance, I don’t recommend just jumping ship. What I do think has worked for some friends of mine, is working on the side here and there. Pick up a project or two, maybe even for free at first, just to see if you like it and to build a portfolio. Say you want to freelance graphic design, a friend needs a new logo, just do it. Do it because you love it, but do it also because then you are already doing it. Before you know it you will build a body of work that actually allows you to shop for clients.
That portfolio is everything. The only thing that matters when you’re freelancing is the last good thing you made. So, make some good shit. There is a fine line when it comes to working for free. Remember that and remember to value your work. I think in the start it’s fine, it’s even good, because you need to get out there. But, do not forget to draw the line and that’s going to happen sooner than later because you’re awesome.
Word of mouth is everything too. I get more work off my social media accounts and through friends and previous jobs than any other way these days. Your work will preceded you, and if it’s good then people will coming looking for you. The trick is to put yourself out there, talk to people, get involved, meet someone else’s needs, help out, volunteer, show up to the party. Networking is a freelancers life line. Being somewhere is half the battle, because the jobs are out there if you go looking.
Can’t stop won’t stop. If this is something you want, something you need, then there really is no other option and the trick is to not quit. I had a teacher who once said to a room of a dozen students, “one of you will actually become a writer. And not because only one of you is talented, but because only one of you will not quit. And it might not even be the talented one.” I’ve always carried that with me. I’ve always been determined to be that one. Someone has got to do the work, and there is work to do, so that someone might as well be you.
Good luck. And if you have more or specific questions, leave a comment below and I’d love to chat and help in any way I can.
(Feature image via Bloguettes)