Things I wish I knew before I started freelancing
My job as a freelance writer is something I kind of just fell in to and I love my job but if I said that freelancing was easy, I would be lying. I first found out about the world of freelancers back at University, I had attended a freelancing workshop and at the time I remember thinking that THIS is the job that I want! To essentially be my own boss, choose my own hours, work on my own schedule aaaand to have the freedom to pick and choose projects…Yes please, where do I sign up? Even though this job description pretty much sums up how a freelancer works, it’s really not all sunshine and roses. So, here’s six things I’ve learned being a freelancer and how you can give your career that much needed injection.
1. FREELANCING TAKES A TONNE OF SELF-MOTIVATION
Because freelancing is all about managing your own time, just as long you’re meeting your deadline set by your client, WHEN you choose to get the work done is up to you really. This can be both a blessing and a curse and let me explain why—I’m a little OCD, if my house is a mess, you better believe that I’m not getting any work done until I’ve done the dishes, made the beds and tidied up the millions of toys left in the wake of Tsunami Arlo, he being my four- year- old son. There is something about a messy house that makes me feel unorganised and distracted, so completing my first job as a mother/housewife is crucial to me beginning my second job (which actually pays) as a writer. Finding the motivation to sit my ass down and begin an article can also be hard to do when a few other factors become involved… I drank one too many glasses of wine last night, I’m sick, I’m stressed, I’m tired, all of these completely normal things which would normally not make a difference to someone who has to drive to an office for their nine to fiver, makes a huge difference to me, who can work from the comfort of her own bed if I damn well please.
You get my drift? Motivation is key here, people!
2. DON'T EXPECT TO MAKE A MILLION IN YOUR FIRST YEAR, IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!
When I landed into the world of freelancing I thought “Yes, finally a job that pays well.” Boy, was I WRONG. Not to say that all freelancing work is a little on the lighter side of the money tree, it’s just that the pay is different to if you were on a salary or wages. With freelancing you are a contractor, so you usually get paid per article or per word and some companies might even pay per hour, however your work is never guaranteed, unless of course you’ve signed a contract with a company stipulating a set amount of articles per week or per month, so sometimes you don’t even know when your next job is going to come from. Unless you’ve got a supportive spouse or a little savings behind you, it’s not something I would recommend beginning if you don’t have any other source of financial stability to fall back on, until you’ve built up your client base and can formulate a steady income and don’t even get me started on taxes…which brings me to my next point.
3. DOING YOUR OWN TAXES ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS
Fact: I suck at math. I can read, write, spell and use correct grammar like a pro but when it comes to anything more than the two times tables, I crumble like a pack of wheetbix. So, doing my own taxes is a foreign and unwelcomed concept to me. Doing your own taxes also takes a lot of self-control not to delve into your separate tax account to buy those new Mi Piaci boots you’ve been pining for all winter. At any other “regular” job you’d get your paycheque at the end of every pay cycle and never even see your tax because it’s already been taken care of for you, so you don’t know what you’re missing out on. While being a freelancer is a different story because it’s your responsibility to take out your own taxes and do your own personal tax return at the end of every financial year, with the money that you saved from every single pay cheque. It’s a lot harder than it sounds… Well, it is for someone like me with little to no self-control. Let me repeat—Doing your own taxes is a pain in the ass.
4. MY FRIENDS THINK I LIVE LIKE CARRIE BRAWSHAW, AND THEY ARE STRONGLY MISTAKEN
Although I love to keep up the façade that I live just like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex In The City, my reality is far from that truth. Most people think that freelancers live these carefree lives, sipping away at cappuccinos and eating chocolate croissants from the comfort of their fave coffee shop, stopping to take a yoga class during the day, meeting friends for lunch, attending fancy events every night and finishing off the evening dining with your other freelancer friends at the latest and greatest bistro in town, for free—of course. This may be the case for some of the more established freelancers out there, but for me, my life pretty much consists of getting my toddler off to kindy, returning home to a breakfast of toast or eggs and if my pay week has been kind to me, I might stop at the coffee caravan up the road for my daily intake of caffeine, otherwise it’s homebrewed for me. I then proceed to clean my house, check my emails and work on an article, all wearing my pyjama pants, bra-less and with my hair in a mum bun. For lunch, I’ll stop for a homemade sammy or some leftover dinner, while watching Dr. Phil for an hour, then back to work before having to pick up my son and prepare dinner for the rest of my family and if I’m lucky, I MIGHT have an event to attend after dinner, where I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw, if only for an hour or two.
5. FREELANCING IS THE LONELIEST JOB I'VE EVER HAD!
I love my job, I do, I love being a writer, I love being able to use words as a creative outlet for my emotions and I love the perks that come along with the job, but I’m not gonna lie, freelancing is the loneliest job I’ve ever had. I work from home 90% of the time, the other 10% is usually taken up by business meetings and events. I am not required to go into an office every day, which obviously has its pros and cons and honestly, I didn’t realise how much I craved human contact every day before I became a freelancer. Working in an office, there are other people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. At home, there is just me, myself and I making all of the decisions, so when I’m stuck trying to re-write the same piece for hours on end, it can become tedious work, to say the least. One thing I’ve learned is it is always beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes look over your work, they might pick up a mistake you have looked over ten times and it’s just super easy to get stuck inside your own head when working alone most of the time.
6. NETWORKING IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
For freelancers, the ability to network needs to be the sharpest tool in your toolbox. When I started on my career journey I started where most people start—University. After fumbling around trying to figure out what degree was best suited for me, I settled on mixing two degrees together, Communications and a Bachelor of arts with a Creative writing major. The point of this was to utilise the major that made most sense to me but to also gain the knowledge from papers within the Communications sector that would help me gain insight into the world of business and media. To say that this was hard work was an understatement but luckily for me, thanks to social media, I gained an internship at a well- known media outlet in Auckland, which then led to them employing me as a freelance writer, segwaying into paid work. I could have stayed at Uni but having a small family to provide for meant that I needed to take the opportunity to start earning money with both hands, so I left my degrees without graduating. Fast forward to my job here at Sauce, I was also very lucky to have stumbled across the fabulous founder and editor of SAUCE, Zeenat through networking myself on social media and every work opportunity I have had since then has been presented through NETWORKING.
So with all that being said, I’m about to introduce you to your new secret weapon that is going to help you network your butt off and propel your freelancing career to Girl Boss status.
7. FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
You may have heard of the dating app Bumble, well the creators of the app have expanded to add on Bumble Bizz which is a professional networking app and Bumble BFF to help you meet friends. What sets Bumble Bizz aside from other networking apps such as LinkedIn is the app is specifically designed to let people know what you are looking for with regards to work and professional connections while networking and with its pre-existing geological features, it’s easier to find other freelancers or small business owners in your area and not get lost amongst the hubbub of larger and non-specific networking apps.
Like the original dating app, Bumble Bizz uses the swipe left, swipe right feature by allowing you to pick and choose the individual connections you wish to make on a professional scale. You will be able to view personal profiles of small businesses and freelancers in your area, seeing their specific skill sets and each profile allows you to upload a digital resume and examples of your work. This app however, is not meant to be used for job searching or recruiting, it is specifically designed for the purpose of networking.
Like its predecessor, Bumble Bizz is a female-first application, meaning that only females are able to make the first connection, thus eliminating the possibility of inappropriate messages female entrepreneurs may receive while using networking apps.
I love how the features within in this app are specifically designed to give female entrepreneurs a leg up. With an arguably male dominated business realm, it’s nice to know that someone has our backs as women forging our own career paths and becoming #GirlBoss’s. It is so important for us women to empower each other and to be able to share our tools and advice to becoming the best career women we can be and Bumble Bizz facilitates this
I’ll see all of you boss ladies on there!
Until next time,
Opening Image | Marie Claire
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When Nina isn’t busy writing about the latest and greatest in all things beauty for Sauce, you’ll find her trying to live a #balancedlife by juggling a career as a freelance writer and being a mum.
Her love in equal parts for vintage and designer fashion plays a big part in her life, as well as her ongoing hunt to find the perfect shade of red lipstick—and the perfect bottle of red wine for that matter!