One of the hardest things to do as a freelancer is also one of the most critical. You need to find a comfort zone in your professional life. If you don’t find a happy medium where you’re driven to succeed without overwhelming yourself with projects and obligations, your professional life will quickly bleed over into your personal life – and soon you find yourself trapped in a freelance career.
Determine Your Goals
Everyone writes for a different reason. Some freelancers want to surround themselves with the written word and they cultivate their passion for writing by pursuing a fully-immersed career in the field. Others use a talent, ability or basic skills to create a smaller income stream that works around other obligations in their lives. As most of us know, the goal isn’t always cold, hard cash, and your work load should reflect your ideal outcome – not what others think you should be doing.
If your goal is to spend as little time working to maximize your income and time for other pursuits, you’re naturally going to approach your writing career in a different way than the individual who wants to continue to grow a business and establish a full-blown brand within the industry over the course of months and years. You can only move forward when you know which direction you’re headed. Spend a bit of time soul-searching to come up with your own motivation and goals.
Balance Time and Money
In freelancing there is an ongoing balancing act between time and money. If you have twelve hours per day to make a basic income, you might just spend all twelve earning a moderate income. If you’re hoping to supplement another income in an hour or less per day, that is certainly possible as well. Rather than let freelancing define you, set some parameters about your career and define your own personal freelance experience.
There is no right way to freelance, despite all of our advice and tips to help you get started in a career, get more jobs and transition to full-time freelancing. Take that advice on this and so many other blogs into advisement as you make your own plans, but they don’t need to become a trail map.
If you need to earn a few hundred dollars per month, establish your hourly rate, set your working hours and take on only the projects that fit into those hours. If you’re trying to maximize income and establish a broad client base, use all of your available working hours initially to get your full-time business off and running.
There is absolutely no rule saying you have to do your freelancing like anyone else does. Set your rates, set your hours and make it work for you. It’s easy to get sucked into the mentality that more is better and that you’re only a “real” freelancer if you write exclusively for your income. Fight back against that temptation if you feel you need something different.
Fine Tune Your Process
As you get a bit more established in your freelance ventures, don’t hesitate to fine-tune your approach, your clients or your projects. If you find yourself being smothered with work, push back – this is your career. Simply set up a calendar and make clients wait for delivered goods. If they can’t wait a week or two, demanding clients can come back when they are ready to pay and wait for what you can deliver.
On the other hand, if you’re working very part-time and realize you’ll need a bit more cash for the holidays or that you have extra time in your schedule, simply ramp up your hours for a few weeks and take on a new client or two. You can always go back to your simpler schedule once you've earned some holiday cash or your regular obligations start again.
This is the power of freelancing – setting your own schedule, determining your comfort zone and maximizing your potential in only the ways you feel like being maximized. I, for one, would argue there is no perfect way to enjoy a freelance writing career. It’s most important that you simply enjoy the one you have. (And if you’re not enjoying it – fix it!)