Do you want be a Freelancer?
“Challenges are the most important thing if you want to grow up. Push yourself beyond your own limits”
~ Tomas Muller
On 15th March I attended to a really special Master Class – reduced number. It was organized by Martin Benes (the founder of the CreativeProShow), and the speaker was Tomas Muller an artist of the Postproduction who came from Prague. One of those names that stands immediately out. His works are incredibly artistic and his career is the dream of any creative artist. In eleven years he has become one of the landmarks in the field of post-production.I armed myself with computer and tablet and I engaged in this workshop as best as I could. I knew some nice and available people; and I finally spoke with Martin in person, after months of tweets.
The introduction of the Master Class that Tomas chose, really struck me. He dedicated some words to the Freelancer‘s world, to the organization of this job, and how you can obtain a lot only with determination and regularity.
“Time and dedication are the key to take part in the freelancer’s world. Always to bear in mind your reasons. Make some sacrifices is almost compulsory. Try to dedicate some time to it. Long time”.
~ Tomas Muller
This is one of the sentences that I liked the most, because when I decided to take up this career, I had to deal with some difficult choices and situations not really good. The time to dedicate to this passion and turn it into a job is a lot. I spent the last years to participating to the workshops – and you know it – studying from the books, online tutorials so that I can implement the theoretical basis that I learned. I spent more hours opposite to the screen of a computer than the hours spent for a full job.
Precisely this introduction has inspired me to the draft of this article. I don’t want to illustrate the technical method of Tomas, but I only want to do a general overview about what you have to deal with when you decide to take up this devious career, that can also give to you great satisfaction.
What you need to know if you want to take up the Freelancer career.
I did not reinvent the wheel, and I certainly did not invent the career of freelancer; so I hope that you will take my words as food for thought, and if you have any comments or additions do not hesitate to leave me a comment. This article is oriented towards the ones that want to start this career, they are simply some reflections that can help to evaluate both pro and cons. In my opinion there are 4 large fields to take into account if you choose to leave everything and work by your own: the organization, the economic sides, unavoidable things which you have to deal with and some cornerstones to beer always in your mind. They are all points that I evaluated and “studied” exactly for take up with this career.
• In my opinion, the first big step is to inquire about all the bureaucratic and fiscal procedures that you will have to take, both in the short and long term. Then inquire about the latest legislative disposals of your own discipline, what type of vat registration number has to be opened, how to do your tax return, and so on.
• Organize yourwork space: usually people who take up this career think that work at home is always easy and an advantage. But it’s not always like this: you have to consider the various distractions, the high risk of annoying, so try to take your mind off things with all you have inside the house. So it’s recommended to established some pauses every 2 hours; maybe go out for a short walk between a job and another.
• Take note of this little trick: leave your mobile phone inside a drawer without the ringtone just as if you were together with other people.In case of depression because of not having any human contact, you may want to consider the idea of attending an office of co-working where you may share some spaces with other self-employed workers by paying a rent for the use of the area and the equipment.
• Know the amount to be obtained from its customers, not depreciate your work because it’s just the beginning, but being able to ask for the amount that is the right balance between spending hours working on a project and the quality of the same. I think that to get paid, at least for me it was so, it is one of the largest rocks from having to deal with. Often offer low prices, however, is also synonymous with lowly quality, and the customer could even think that is a negative thing. (same thing raise the prices. In this case you can do a negative competition to the big advertising agencies or to the huge representatives of the field in which you want to get in).
• You never stop learning, especially if the job as a freelancer relapses in the field that I love to call digital: web design, graphic design, copywriting, social media marketing, SEO. The network is moving incredibly fast, as well as the way we communicate, to share, to create and program. Every day we find new techniques, new fashions, new styles; and we must always keep up with the times.
• It’s essential to keep in mind that you become the boss of yourself. this not means: “I work whenever I want, I wake up every morning at 11:00 am, and I hope to manage to succeed“. Absolutely not. Customers won’t knock on your door just when you need it. There will be no one who will take care of you when things do not go well, and you will not have the certainty of a paycheck at the end of the month. The self-discipline is essential in this work. You have to understand that you have to think long-term before even thinking about the short one, always have a plan B in case things do not work as it was planned. You should think that there will be periods of full time work maybe even ten hours a day, including Saturdays and Sundays without overtime.
• You do not become rich from a week to another. So it is good to consider that not everyone can support themselves at early times (rent, bills, grocery shopping, etc.) taking up this career. But not for this reason you have to give up immediately to your own ambitions.
• To have some extra savings is always good, To have some extra savings is always good if you want to take up the career of freelancer. You usually know that to match a job (both part-time and, worse, full time) with the start-up of a secondary career is very hard, and often impossible. So my best advice is to spare some money in order to have some time (month) for launch the new career.
• You have to take stock of the situation, not being anymore an employee, of your economic conditions. There will not be a boss that will think about your retirement fund or to the various insurances. This will be completely at your charge.
• Always spare in the periods of full work. This should be a sort of automatic and instinctive operation. Being owner of your time and work means that you may have less certainty. You have to think about less prosperous periods due to the trend of the market and the crisis, in way not to waste money in luckier periods.
• Consider a small part of your savings that will be used for the updating or the replacement of your work tools: photocameras, lens, graphics tablet, personal computers.
Thinks that you’ll have necessarily to deal with.
• Deal with complicated clients, unpolite, who claim to know more than you in your field. Anyone who has worked with the public knows that being able to establish enduring relations even with the worse clients is an art that should be whet with ruse and a lot of patience.
• Accomplish the works that are deemed boring and little artistic. One of the first things that inspired you to take up this career, it’s to have no longer to deal with a boss who forces you to perform work that you don’t like. Unfortunately, especially at the beginning, you will have to accept this kind of works, and strive to keep relations with your customers.
• In an era of connections, social networks, and communication 2.0 you must always be careful with your comments and what you say on the web. Often we use: social networks, forums, and comments as safety valves to avoid taking axes and kill people. This possibility is a kind of double-edged sword: you have to be careful what you write. A single sentence can make you lose credibility, or trust of a customer. Being able to separate the accounts used for business purposes or personal ones, and always count to 10 when you want to reply to someone, especially on your site or in the pages dedicated to your work.
• The support of friends and family, especially for the first times is essential. But you’ll have to realize that not everyone will understand the seriousness and difficulty of the situation. There will be people who will continue to be convinced that being freelancer means to sleep till late in the morning and do whatever you want to do. Without even consider the difficulty of the circumstances. Just because you are staying at home. They will not consider the fact that maybe a Friday night you will have to stay at home because you have a work to do. But don’t worry, you just have to find a right balance between the job and the social life
Cornerstones to remember.
• You work harder than if you were an employee in some office. There will be some periods in which you will have to work more than the classic 8 hours per day. But you can manage it as you want: you can choose the schedules depending on what is suitable for you.
• You create your reputation work after work, project after project, proving all over again that you are professional and punctual (two basic elements in order to succeed). So never give up just because it seems that you will get nowhere.
• The competition is very high, but they are not all enemies to hope their sinking. I think that the (fair) competition is a great incentive to improve, to be always active and ready to push over your bounds.
• Each customer must be considered as important as if it was the only one, there are no clients for a Class A or B. Contrary to huge companies who can afford to leave behind smaller customers because they have a beautiful and full portfolio, the Freelancers, especially the beginners, must think that every customer is important and fundamental.
• Find the right cooperations: the saying “if you want something done, it is best to do it yourself” is not always true. I have seen many sites offering an endless list of services, from widely differing kinds, trying to scrape together as many customers as possible. But sometimes, you may have the humility and intellectual honesty to recognize that you need help, and then you find a network of connections that can lead to the development of new challenging projects. Ask for help to another colleague freelance, specialized in the field where you are not, in my opinion is a smart move that also protects the customer: providing simply the best.
Taking a stock: the picture that comes out by analyzing the pros and cons of life as a freelancer is not rosy, full of positive points of view. But just a scale that can tilt for pros or the cons.
Personally, it’s a long time since I’m studying all these aspects, and I’m sure I can find others in a few time, even just a negative for a job – always creative – but as an employee. None of this will be able to make me falter in my choice. The passion, that swept me away for years for everything related to the world of web design, graphic design and advertising, has never abandoned me, nor even for a day.
The choices to make are hard, the begin of this path is a way full of obstacles, cobbles and traps ready to give you up. However, the smugness of climbing meters after meters, gave me the strength to go on, to arrive – I hope – at the top and then realize the great deal of work that I did. And what about if once that I’ve arrived at the top of that mountain I found another one to climb? Well, that’s life, full of challenges, but at that point I will roll up my sleeves and I’ll keep going in my direction.
What about you? Where exactly are you with this?