How to stay happy as a new freelancer

3 min
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When you start your first day in a new office everyone is smiles and sunshine, making you feel welcome. HR managers in big offices will likely be using onboarding tech to help show you the ropes and get you acquainted with all the aspects of your job.

However, your first day actually working as a freelancer may not be nearly as sociable or friendly, with just a laptop, coffee mug, and yourself as company! Consequently, you've got to rely on your own problem-solving skills and self-motivation whenever possible. You might even need to jog your memory -- you've chosen to be a freelancer because this is what you wanted to do! To help make the best use of this great decision, keep the following tips in mind to stay happy.

Take on projects outside your comfort zone

Whether you're a copywriter, a web designer, or even a sound engineer, you'll probably start off by working on topics you have some familiarity with, be it sports, music, fashion, or otherwise. This is a good starting point but as most freelancers know, work doesn’t always flow in like an endless stream! Some weeks things can dry up a little, which means you'll have to consider working on projects that you might not have much prior knowledge of or experience in.

The good news is that it’s almost always easy to learn the ropes quickly and still produce great work. If you’re unsure though, consider carefully what you need to know from HR or the client representative and have ready some questions you absolutely must know the answers to. Pose these when the time is right, such as when you’re asked to give feedback.

If you have the luxury of only working on projects which you immediately understand, naturally love and reliably bring in enough income, then all the better for you. But remember the benefits of broadening your scope if you want to progress as a freelancer.

Work for clients who pay on time and don't mess you around

This tip is easier said than done but, when it comes to freelancing, time really is money. If you put 10+ hours into a project, only to find that the client keeps moving the goal posts and puts off actually paying you, then you should never work with them again. Many people like to get things for free, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be paid for your work. Know when to call it quits on a client and spend your time and energy finding those who respect you as a self-employed worker.

Visit co-working spaces to meet new people

Many freelancers love working from home at first, but after a while things can get a bit lonely if you no longer have the opportunity to get out and socialise with new people. Check out this list of co-working spaces in the UK and try out the idea of working around other freelancers and creatives a few times a week. Sometimes, inspiration and motivation are infectious.

Now forget about work!

As a freelancer, you might feel that any time you're not working should be spent trying to find new clients. Of course, this should be done as much as possible. But if you've checked your LinkedIn page, sent a few prospective emails, and even arranged some meetings having turned in your latest piece of work and met the client’s brief, then it’s definitely time to think about life outside of work!

Go to the gym, see friends and family, watch a movie, and really let your mind put aside contracts and deadlines for a few hours. Ask any veteran freelancer -- maintaining a healthy relationship with your work will benefit you enormously, especially if you intend on freelancing for the long term or building your own company. So happy freelancing, but don’t work too hard!

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