Things I wish someone told me when I was a newbie freelancer

15 replies
Guess, I attended the last regional Upwork conference in this year. Usually, we get at least one more chance to meet until the end of the year. I presume that the Upwork community managers have other plans. That's OK. I really don't mind. In this period of the year, you can see a lot of new faces. That's a good news. Upwork has new fees and new members. Good for them. I couldn't see some of the old faces. That's a bad news. Maybe these have gotten back to the 9-to-5 jobs or maybe they just got tired. Either way, the freelance show must go on, that's for sure.

Now, the most annoying part of this winter edition conferences, especially the last ones for the current years, are enthusiastic motivational speeches for the newbie freelancers. I guess you can call these encouragements this way. This is a legitimate thing to do, except for the milk and honey part. Actually, for some reason, people either make bad jokes about the downsides of the freelance work and life, or they don't mention them at all. Again there's nothing wrong about it, but there's also not too many good and useful things, as well. I remember that on a couple of occasions I wanted to raise my arms and say a thing or two, but I didn't. Instead, I imagined what were the things I wish someone told five or six years ago. Why? Would they make any difference? Probably not, but at least that would have saved me a great deal of trouble and disappointments. Maybe, they would even allow me to earn more. That's something I can't tell for sure.

I hate those tips that all look alike and you can find hundreds of them online. I seriously doubt that the guys who wrote them have spent a single minute working as freelancers. So, I hope that some warriors who are also freelancers will appreciate them or at least find a line or two to be useful.

There is no romance in freelance

I believe that freelancing represents the ultimate and final victory of the corporate empire. They got us where they want us to be and work when they want for how much they want. There's nothing poetic not magical about freelancing. I'm my own boss now. I don't have a single boss to bother me now. Well, the news flash is that instead of one boss you end up with at least a dozen bosses at any given moment. Also, this romantic vision of the absolute freedom from the regular working hours. Instead of 8 hours, you get 16 hours of work. OK, that's an obvious and shameless exaggeration, but it doesn't mean it's not true for some guys and in some projects. Again, I'm fully aware that I have said nothing spectacular, but at least I didn't leave it out, which was the case at the last conference I attended. I'm also saying that this would've talked me out of freelancing in the first place, but at least I would've prepared myself better. I would have definitely asked myself what was wrong fewer times.

No one is stopping you from being a freelancer and an entrepreneur

This one would have been a life-changer five years ago. The term "entrepreneur" in this context is a little bit pretentious term, but I couldn't think of a better one at the moment. When you work as a freelancer, especially at the beginning, you have plenty of time to launch a website, write an eBook, participate in the development of an app, and many other useful and potentially profitable things. Needless to say that you can improve your skills, knowledge, and anything you can possibly think of all day long. So, who stopped me writing at least a handful of eBooks? I could have written at least one new eBook every year in the last five years. I had plenty of time to write the whole novel or even a trilogy. The answer is my stupidity and insecurity. I thought that my situation was a temporary solution and that I will be back in corporate waters in no time. Obviously, that was a wrong thing to think.

One fine day we will all be freelancers

This is actually true. The brave new world of merciless gig economy needs new subjects. More than ever. Who is going to be left to work in the factories? The robots, I guess. Who else? Yet, this is a dangerous thought. Do you know why? Because when you put it this way, it means that you don't have a choice. If all of us are going to end up working as freelancers sooner or later, more or less, then I should become a freelancer asap. Better now than later. Right? No. Wrong. A decent business offer would make me be a salesman again in a blink of an eye. I would say bye-bye freelance with no regret, till the next team, at least. There's always a choice.

Every contact you made is worth pure gold

I wish I had 500 connections on my LinkedIn account. Unfortunately, I didn't take care of my contacts from the very beginning. That was a huge mistake. After almost 1,000 projects finding 500 connections for my LinkedIn shouldn't be a problem, but it is. I hate this phrase, but it is painfully true. The lack of vision. I treated myself as a one-stop-shop and I got what I deserved. I should have had my own small, but rich in contacts, freelance world by now. This is something I realized, when I started thinking about my first eBook. I could invite every of my current and previous clients and other contacts to have a look, write a review, or even buy. You meet people from all over the world. So many different industries and different backgrounds. You can't possibly guess when some of them can turn out to be important for some plan you may have. The moment you create a freelance account or decide to work as one, you should have all available social media accounts to follow your actions and contacts systematically and restlessly.

You don't need an umbrella, but beware of the rainy days

I have a five-year long hole in my social, health security, and retirement stuff. You know what I'm talking about. The reason for that was my temporary approach. It's only until the end of this year, and then I will change something. Finally, I made some plans for the private insurance as of the beginning of the next year. Yet, it was really hard to think about these "details," when you are trying to win your first projects and build your portfolio. What can I say? Better to admit this mistake now than ten years from now.

No more tips

In a way, I feel relieved after writing this. Maybe, I should have taken an active part in the conference. No one is stopping you from volunteering and sharing your experiences with the young lions of the freelance world. OK, let's say the next year will be different. I would read what other warriors have to say about these. Based on the feedback and advice I get here, I will work on a speech worth hearing. So, let me hear it.
#freelancer #newbie #things #told
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    There is no romance in freelance
    In another thread yesterday you mentioned the above statement "would be a good topic for a thread" - looks like you found a way to use it.

    Of course - you're working...right? How many thread 'articles' will we see today?
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    • Profile picture of the author EPoltrack77
      Why do people always focus on the what ifs or what went wrong rather than what worked? Its not wonder. Your thoughts lead to feelings and those feelings leads to actions and those actions lead to results and when we only can focus on what went wrong then its hard to move ahead....
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      • Profile picture of the author neshaword
        Originally Posted by EPoltrack77 View Post

        Why do people always focus on the what ifs or what went wrong rather than what worked? Its not wonder. Your thoughts lead to feelings and those feelings leads to actions and those actions lead to results and when we only can focus on what went wrong then its hard to move ahead....
        Totally agree. When it's bad, it's bad. Can't find a way to end a bad series.

        One of the things you can gear quite often at these freelance conferences is that all you have to do is believe in yourself and everything will be just fine. A great tip for newbie freelances, which eventually shows its ugly side.

        Cheers!
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    • Profile picture of the author neshaword
      That's a memory worth admiring to, lol.

      New projects come for me in waves. When I have work to do it is unbearable. You just don't know what to do first. When you are looking for work, it is a disaster. No middle ground for me.

      So, patience my dear KK the next wave of new projects will keep me occupied for some time. I hope for a long time. That should be a win-win for both of us, lol.

      Cheers,
      N
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      • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
        Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

        So, patience my dear KK the next wave of new projects will keep me occupied for some time. I hope for a long time. That should be a win-win for both of us, lol.

        Cheers,
        N
        Minor issue with sentence structure - correct the word "both" with "all".
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        • Profile picture of the author neshaword
          Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

          Minor issue with sentence structure - correct the word "both" with "all".
          Ten characters, lol =)
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        • Profile picture of the author shaunybb
          Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

          Minor issue with sentence structure - correct the word "both" with "all".

          lol I don't think the OP has noticed the sarcasm....poor kid
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          • Profile picture of the author neshaword
            Originally Posted by shaunybb View Post

            lol I don't think the OP has noticed the sarcasm....poor kid
            Sarcasm is a too strong word. I see it as a joke. I wanted to put a simple "lol." But the WF says minimum ten characters. I don't take jokes or comments the wrong way. Especially if the come as a result of a lucid mind's observations. Same goes for you. Thank you for that "poor kid." As a 40-year-old, it has been a while, since I've heard something like that. It raises the spirits, that's for sure. All the best. Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author 4hdddd
    Freelancing have changed my life. It was my dream. Now I select this as my full time promession.
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    • Profile picture of the author neshaword
      Originally Posted by 4hdddd View Post

      Freelancing have changed my life. It was my dream. Now I select this as my full time promession.
      Sometimes our freelance dreams aren't so enjoyable, but here we are fighting and waiting for the better ones to come.

      Thx,
      N
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  • Profile picture of the author desireedavid
    ahhh the first year is terrible. You work hard at building at your portfolio and gaining clients. You market yourself, and you invest... And yes, it does seem like we work more hours than the normal 9-5. LOL. But, let's look at the positive side of things -- we can work anywhere we want to, as long as we have internet connection!
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    • Profile picture of the author neshaword
      Originally Posted by desireedavid View Post

      ahhh the first year is terrible. You work hard at building at your portfolio and gaining clients. You market yourself, and you invest... And yes, it does seem like we work more hours than the normal 9-5. LOL. But, let's look at the positive side of things -- we can work anywhere we want to, as long as we have internet connection!
      That's my fellow freelancer. To be quite honest, my first two years were terrible. I can't even say that I'm in the safe zone now. Would I go back in the 9-to-5 world? Not sure. If I don't work today, who is to make me? Except a couple of unpaid bills, lol. Wishing you many successful projects and rewarding clients.
      Thx.
      N
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  • Profile picture of the author nowservingpixels
    Great post. Likewise I've been a freelancer for the past 5 years and the first 2 years were very turbulent for me. Started out on Elance but now have my own site and marketing efforts propping me up.

    I can't stress enough the importance of having additional income streams as a freelancer. Work really does come and go in waves. Ebook sales and Adsense revenue keeps you afloat when times are bad and leaves you with extra in your bowl when times are good.
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    • Profile picture of the author neshaword
      Originally Posted by nowservingpixels View Post

      Great post. Likewise I've been a freelancer for the past 5 years and the first 2 years were very turbulent for me. Started out on Elance but now have my own site and marketing efforts propping me up.

      I can't stress enough the importance of having additional income streams as a freelancer. Work really does come and go in waves. Ebook sales and Adsense revenue keeps you afloat when times are bad and leaves you with extra in your bowl when times are good.
      "Additional income streams" sounds like the right thing to do. Working on my first eBook. Hope to provide me with something while I'm waiting for the next wave of work to catch. Running your own website also seems like a win-win. My trouble, I'm not sure if I can find enough clients that way. The best keywords in my industry are already taken and extremely expensive, I'm afraid. I also migrated from Elance to oDesk, now Upwork. Yet, I noticed something. The overwhelming number of clients who use freelance services for the first time can be found on Freelancer. People say Freelancer is aggressive when it comes to advertising, but I can say, it is also very effective. If my wife could find some decent job that would be a worth a successful eBook, lol. Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    Originally Posted by neshaword View Post


    There is no romance in freelance
    Why would anyone think this in the first place
    Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

    No one is stopping you from being a freelancer and an entrepreneur
    No kidding, do you think people think this in the first place
    Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

    One fine day we will all be freelancers
    Not even in your wildest delusional dreams

    Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

    Every contact you made is worth pure gold
    Quite a few are pure crap

    Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

    You don't need an umbrella, but beware of the rainy days
    Great Cliche

    al



    No more tips

    .[/QUOTE]
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