If you’re a freelancer, hopefully, each year you learn something, or some things, that help you operate better and improve your finances.
And when you can learn from others without getting your knees scraped and your clothes dirty, I think that that’s what you should do.
That’s why I asked other freelancers to share key lessons drawn from the past year.
Freelance Lessons From COVID-19
COVID-19 was a game-changer for a lot of businesses, and freelancing wasn’t an exception.
Some of the top freelance lessons of 2020 were delivered by the virus.
After the pandemic struck, a lot of freelancers saw their hustle nearly, if not completely evaporate.
“I believed I’d thought of everything when it came to preparing my business to navigate hard times, lose anchor clients, and anything else life might throw my way. I didn’t think I’d need to pandemic-proof my business,” said Paige Cerulli, owner of Wild Mare Marketing.
But in April, she lost most her clients.
She decided to pivot and find new opportunities, and as a result, her business survived.
Cerulli’s takeaway: Be adaptable.
“It’s easy to fall into a niche and focus on the services that we’ve provided for years, but there’s value in changing things up, too. Freelancing affords us great flexibility, and sometimes that flexibility is a lifesaver,” she said.
I’ve heard from a lot of people this year that it’s been a struggle to work with kids and partners and roommates also working from home or having housemates in the house while they’re out of school or work, said Holly Antle of Discover Freelancing.
She knows firsthand what an ordeal it can be if the situation is left unchecked.
“I’ve had issues with in-laws and even my husband and kids getting upset with me for ‘playing on the computer all day’ because they didn’t realize that my computer time was actually my JOB,” she said.
Antle manages the issue in her household using a popsicle stick system.
A yellow stick means working, but not on a tight deadline, so you may ask questions. Red means working on a tight deadline, so don’t bother me unless it’s an emergency. And black indicates she is on a video or audio call, so don’t disturb and keep quiet.
Antle also maintains business hours. And when she logs off, she off!
Antle’s takeaway: Don’t leave it to others to figure out what’s expected of them. Have a lot of discussions to keep everyone on the same page. Set boundaries for your housemates and your clients.
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Being About Your Business
Freelancers often get caught up in doing whatever it takes just to get a gig, but they don’t come out as the real winners because they end up burned out and underpaid.
Freelancers need to stop underbidding and set reasonable rates.
Don’t be afraid to give your price, said freelance writer and social media content creator Brandy Law.
Just because someone else might be charging less, that doesn’t mean you should walk away. There are clients who will appreciate your work and look beyond price, she added.
And according to content and copywriter Erin Cafferty, freelancers should focus on client longevity.
Always prioritize long-term projects over one-off tasks so you’re not constantly spending your time on lead generation AND client work, she advises.
Furthermore, if you’ve been around the KnowGood community for any amount of time, you’ll know I stress diversifying your hustle.
So it was no surprise to find that’s one of Jessica Walrack’s top freelance lessons.
It’s important to build your personal brand across multiple platforms so you have multiple sources for leads. This way if one platform fails or a client drops off or doesn’t pay, you’re still good, said the writer and personal brand strategist.
Walrack spreads her presence across multiple platforms and mediums, including: Upwork, Clearvoice, Fiverr, Facebook, LinkedIn, email marketing, and blogging.
Walrack’s takeaway: Diversify your clients and where you find your clients.
Freelance Lessons On Making Your Mark
Freelancing is a long-term game. Gradual growth is better than looking for a quick fix, says holistic health writer Kat Gal.
Listen to other freelancers and learn from them, but remember you don’t have to follow everyone’s advice. Find your own path, she advises.
Rachel Pintarelli, owner of Rock Your Brand has learned the same thing.
You do not need to be a clone of freelancers in your industry. Your website, your brand voice, your way of working—make it organic to YOU.
“Do not carbon copy yourself or you will feel an insane amount of disconnect from the very business you were willing to risk so much for,” Pintarelli says.
What freelance lessons did you learn over the past year? Drop them on us in the comments section.
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