Melting Pot member, Aileen Carson, works as a freelance coach and shares some tips to help you thrive on your freelance journey.
Becoming self-employed is a big decision. Freelancing will give you more freedom than you’ll ever have as an employee, but it’s not without its challenges. Learning how to overcome these challenges and stay motivated will help you work through the highs and lows.
Setting goals can give you a sense of purpose. Whether you’re looking to build a six-figure business or simply earn enough to pay the bills and avoid becoming an employee again, set specific and achievable goals for your work. Break down your goals into smaller chunks and create a plan to achieve them. This will help to keep you on track.
Routines and systems
Creating a routine is easier to do when you’re employed and have a boss who sets deadlines and expects results, but when you’re working on your own, it can be harder to stay on track. Freelancing gives you a lot of freedom, but it’s important to be disciplined, otherwise things can slip. Creating a routine and putting systems in place can help to make sure you meet deadlines and achieve your goals, which is particularly important if you’re taking on a lot of work or working with lots of different clients.
If you’re working on large projects, break them down into manageable chunks. Large projects or tasks can be overwhelming, but focusing on completing one task at a time will give you a sense of progress as you accomplish each one.
Understand your ‘why’
If you’re finding freelancing hard and you’re trying to remember why you ever thought it was a good idea, remember why you started. What prompted you to give up a job with a regular income to work on your own?
Remembering why you’re doing something can help you stay focused and give you the determination you need to keep going. Recognise why you chose freelancing and what motivates you about it. Whether it’s the flexibility, financial independence or pursuing your passion, reminding yourself of your purpose can help to sustain your motivation during challenging times.
Get used to uncertainty
Getting comfortable with, or at least becoming used to, uncertainty is important if you want to thrive as a freelancer. There’s a lot of uncertainty with self-employment. There’s no one to pay your salary into your bank account at the same time each month and you don’t always know where your next piece of work is coming from. At times it can feel like a very insecure way of living and working.
Getting used to this uncertainty is not easy, but if you give yourself some time to get used to the transition from employee to freelancer, you’ll find it gets easier.
I found it helpful to recognise that there is a misconception that freelancing is far less secure than being employed. Having a permanent contract with an employer doesn’t mean your job is safe or secure. Going through the redundancy process a few years ago relieved me of any misconception that a permanent contract equals security. Whenever I find the uncertainty difficult, I remind myself of that experience and I remember that being employed won’t necessarily give me any more security.
Keep in touch
It’s easy to feel as though you’re on your own when you’re freelancing, but there are ways of making sure you don’t become isolated.
I’ve connected with other coaches I met on training courses or through social media and I meet them for online coffees from time to time. This helps to remind me there are other people out there doing similar things and I’m not on my own. Not only are these catch-ups great for preventing isolation, they provide opportunities to bounce ideas off other people if I feel I’m getting stuck in my own head.
Being a member of a coworking space, like The Melting Pot, also offers you the bustle of an office environment, and lovely like-minded folk to interact with throughout the day.
Celebrating your achievements can help you to stay motivated and remind you why you chose to be self-employed. It might be securing a new client, receiving a great testimonial or a former client recommending you to someone else. Freelancing is not for the faint-hearted, so no matter how small your achievement seems to you, recognise how far you’ve come and celebrate it.
It’s important to remember that there are ups and downs with freelancing, just as there are with any job, but following these steps to help you stay motivated and maintain a positive mindset will help you thrive as a freelancer.
Find Aileen on LinkedIn