I didn’t set out to be a freelancer.
It found me – kind of like the flu.
But it turns out … I like it, definitely more than the flu. Like any job it has its days when I wonder why I do what I do, but it definitely has more good days than bad.
The perks of being a freelancer are numerous. But I think tippity-top of the list is the flexible schedule. Imagine making money as you punch away on the keyboard when you can’t sleep at night, or working out when you want to, or taking every Tuesday morning for study or time with friends.
However, one of the downity-downs of freelance also comes in the form of flexibility. It is the ever-flexible income. The needs of clients ebb and flow, and as a result, so does your income.
When I accidentally got started “writing for hire” over four years ago there was a lot I didn’t know and since then there is a lot I have learned, but here are three things I never thought I’d say:
1. “I appreciate the opportunity, but I’ll have to pass.”
As a freelance businessperson and ringmaster of your own circus, you have the option to pass on projects. This was certainly never an option when I was at Sprint or Hallmark. You completed every project you were handed. Not as a freelancer.
Passing on projects may seem a bit crazy and a recipe for destitution, but in some cases passing may save you time and money better spent on a different project or elsewhere.
Say “thanks, but no thanks” to any project that seems to be:
- Beyond the scope of your capabilities or best talents.
- A poor fit – professionally or personally.
- Unable to be clearly defined by the team hiring you.
- Doomed from the start – i.e. marketing surfboards in Montana.
- At odds with your values or belief system.
To avoid some poor fits, make sure your website helps potential clients vet you. Explain your freelance offerings and your business well enough on your site to help them opt in or out based on who you are, what you do, and how you do it. I’m a huge fan of the website builder, WIX. It is very intuitive and a refreshing option from the cumbersome, linear Word Press.
There are only so many hours in the day, so work with people you enjoy whom you can help and see clear, forward progress.
2. “Please pay your invoice.”
I hate owing anyone money. Debt hurts my insides so I’m not especially familiar with the mindset of not paying bills in a timely manner.
But I had a former client who was quite familiar with paying late. I guess I thought companies would pay their freelancer in a timely manner because, a. it’s not going to break the bank, b. it’s the right thing to do, and c. the freelance worker is not exactly Apple with a gazillion dollars in the bank.
I don’t like reminding clients about payment, but I do. And you should too.
Make sure to include your terms on every invoice. Keep in mind some payments really do get lost in the mail. But remind yourself, you provide a service and you deserve to be paid in a reasonable amount of time.
I am very fortunate to have the privilege of working with quality clients who pay their bills on time.
But if you have a late payer and it becomes a habit, refer back to Point #1 “I appreciate the opportunity, but I’ll have to pass.”
3. “I love this job.”
The last thing I never thought I’d say was, “I love this job.”
But I do.
With one kiddo still at home and the other gone from the nest, there is no doubt in my mind how invaluable my time at home is. Flexibility is priceless to me. I can always make another pile of cash, but I can never get today back.
So I love this job because it allows me the opportunity to put my family first and serve others with my talents too.