A Year Of Freelancing
I know I have touched on this subject in previous posts, but being that I took a year off to freelance my way through life I wanted to share some of my newfound knowledge with a few of you. I really have had some amazing experiences, and it is great being able to work from anywhere and set your own hours.
But truth be told there were also moments that almost made me consider returning to my day job, so hopefully I can save you the headaches and allow you to skip right to the good stuff.
Pick A Skill, And Hone It
I have said this before and I’ll say it again. Find something you are good at, or something you are passionate about, and do everything you can to be the best at it. Too often I see guys quitting their day job to become an “Internet Marketer”, trying to offer everything from SEO to Social Media and not really understanding how either really works. Start with one thing, become the best in your area at that one thing, and then if you feel like you can take on more work then move onto the next. I’ll keep this part short and sweet as I have said this before, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Set a Base Price
Make sure you know what your time is worth, and charge accordingly. This just means do your research. Find out what others with similar skillsets and experience are charging and duplicate their business models. If it works for them, it will work for you.
That being said, don’t be afraid of a little hard work. Sometimes it takes a great blog post at a less than fair rate to get your foot in the door, but a greater opportunity awaits you on the other side after you prove yourself.
Finding Freelance Work
If you are looking for a good place to offer your skills, look at my previous blog posts about finding freelancers to work with. Those are the same places that you yourself can find good-paying jobs! Upwork and Fiverr are good places to start, and there’s nothing wrong with good old Craigslist, but here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Beware the scam artists. I reached a point where I was replying to over a hundred posts a day, working on logos and sending out work for free hoping someone would pay me. DO NOT DO THIS. It just doesn’t work. Find the ads that look the most professional. Talk to them on the phone. And make sure you get paid.
2. People using Craigslist will be receiving massive amounts of responses. Make sure you make a professional first impression with a catchy offer; and don’t be afraid to play yourself up a little! Ask yourself why they are using Craigslist and not a more reputable hiring platform, and think about the level of quality your competition likely offers. Find your competitive advantage and you’ll be ahead of the game.
3. Beware of Startups. (See why below)
Working With Startups
In a few words: don’t do it. As a freelancer working for next to nothing for a percentage of equity stake in a company is an enticing offer. You’ll soon find yourself working well over forty hour weeks for less than minimum wage if you receive payment at all, and quickly become discouraged. At the very least, make sure that you read your contract and look for things in the agreement like a vesting schedule and the “one year cliff”, which indicates that if you don’t work for a minimum amount of time, your equity will be forfeited. The term “equity” can also be defined many ways… so make sure to do your research and be as clear as possible with your expectations before venturing this way.
Finally… know when to quit. Working for yourself means that you never really clock out. This is something that can destroy other aspects of your life both socially, mentally, and physically. Set a limit for how many hours you are willing to work per day and enjoy the rest of your time. That is after all, what being a freelancer is all about!
As a side note: the new Tim Ferriss book, “Tribe of Mentors“, was just released featuring life advice from some of the most interesting people on the planet. If you haven’t heard of Tim Ferriss, you may want to start your freelancing journey with “The 4-Hour Workweek“. For those of you who are more familiar with Tim and his experimental antics, you know these books are worth their weight in gold!