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5 life laws of successful freelancersStijn Schutyser
Launching a freelance career and getting to the point where you can call yourself successful is not easy. Usually, only the freelancers that really believe in themselves, take their career seriously, work hard and provide lots of value get to that point. Thanks to IT Match, I had the opportunity to ask some successful freelancers how they did it and condensed their answers into 5 life laws.
1. Work means work
When you have to work, you have to work. No apologies, no excuses. You have a responsibility towards yourself (and your business, family, and so on) to always give it your all and work hard. Try to get in ‘the zone’ as quickly and as often as possible in order to maximize your performance and make the most out of your productive time.
It’s OK to choose to work in some ‘lost moments’, like waiting for the cable guy (or the neighbor’s cable guy). After awhile, you’ll be surprised how much you can actually get done in these little moments. And if that means more income or more free time at the end of the day, then all the better for it.
2. There’s no shame in fair pay
Perhaps you’ve got some friends or know some people that do freelance work similar to yours, and they all seem to get paid more than you. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being underpaid or that they’re being overpaid. They’ve made an agreement with whoever they’re working for which was deemed to be fair to all parties.
The only thing you should strive for, is getting a fair price for the value you bring to the table. If that is less than some of your peers – for now – then that’s fine, and not something you should worry about.
Likewise, if customers tell you you’re too expensive for them, be adamant that you’re just asking a fair price (only if you are, though, but let’s assume so). Establishing the right price for your services is crucial. If you provide enough value, customers will bite. If you need some more info, you should check out our blog posts about determining your daily rate and setting your fees.
3. Blend work and life, but keep the balance
Because modern technology allows them to, work and life have been merging for years. It’s okay if you let them. Work today often demands it, earning a living now often requires it and people often just expect it from you. There’s two sides to this coin: it may be convenient sometimes, but frustrating other times.
As a freelancer, it’s convenient that unlike millions of traditional employees, you can work while you wait for the cable guy. You can be in and out of the gym before the nine-to-five crew descends at 6 p.m. Or you can stake out picnic blanket turf early for the concert in the park and happily work on your laptop and cell phone until your cube-controlled friends arrive. You can walk the kids to school, say hi to the teacher, stop for a latte, then hit your desk. Being in control of their time is a huge reason people love freelancing despite the rocky income.
On the other hand, work and life can get so blended together it’s hard to keep track when you’re working and when you aren’t. This can lead to getting the feeling you’re working all the time, leaving you frustrated because it never really stops. If you want some tips on how to keep your work-life balance in check, I’ve written out some tips that should help you stop overworking.
4. It all starts with you
Your career is worth taking seriously. It’s like negotiating price with clients: waffle too much and they’ll question your value. Taking your freelance career seriously may mean having some reality check conversations about what you need. Luckily, freelancing has that natural ‘elasticity’ to it that can help you out. Here are some tips:
- Incorporate chores and errands into work breaks so you can do them bit by bit and relax later.
- Control the input, for example through your phone. You can set up a personal phone number and one for business only and decide for yourself which one you’ll answer at your convenience and which one has priority.
- Build in small efficiencies. We’ve already talked about ways to boost work productivity, but you can easily extend them to personal stuff, too. It could be getting your groceries delivered, paying bills online, scheduling and grouping appointments into particular days, and so on. Small efficiencies add up, opening your time, easing your mind, freeing you from the busywork of life so you can engage in the things that are most important in life, like friends, family and your health.
- Rethink your freelancing goals. If the push-pull between work and family is a continual stressor and your strategies for managing it just aren’t working, maybe it’s time to revisit your freelance goals. Can you afford to be a part-time freelancer so you’d have more time for family? How might you economize so you could work less? Can you save money to hire household help? Are you charging enough for your services, so you could conceivably work less but earn more? Can you develop a specialty or passive income streams to help increase your income?
5. Be mindful
Think before you commit your precious time, care, skills, and resources. That goes for the gigs you take, the friends you hang with, the money you spend, the causes you join. It gives you a broader and more nuanced perspective on life, and makes you realize there’s always someone who’s worse off than you are.
Remember: when you willingly give your best, your all, your awesomeness, everything you touch will shine. And so will you. ☀️