10 lessons learnt after 10 years of freelancing

10 lessons learnt after 10 years of freelancing

by Wishu
20 May 2021
Yes, as freelancers we are often risk-takers by nature but that doesn’t always mean that freelance life comes easy to us! Rather than practice making perfect, here at Wishu we don’t believe in perfection so we’d rather say that practise makes permanent. If you’re new to the freelancer game, don’t beat yourself up about making mistakes – it’s a tricky game! PRO Freelancers are pros for a reason; they have put in the work year after year and learnt from their mistakes as well as their successes. 

Here are ten tips from PRO Freelancers who wish they’d known then what they do now:

Lesson 1: Set some boundaries

Establish a work/life balance and take those weekends and evenings off. Being unavailable for an evening doesn’t make you a bad freelancer nor will it put you off clients. Boundaries are essential for both mental health and creative productivity. As long as you’re punctual within all your work hours, you needn’t worry about doing an all-nighter. 


Lesson 2: Don’t take things personally 

Nobody’s perfect and when it comes to professionalism this can sometimes translate very poorly. Not every client or co-worker or collaborator will be your friend. Sometimes feedback may come across as harsh but it’s simply poor communication from their side. Also feedback, both negative and positive, is crucial in the growth and development of your art. So take it all on board and remember that most of the time they’re not talking about you or trying to bring you down and if they are you simply don’t work with them again. 


Lesson 3: Questioning yourself is normal 

Imposter’s syndrome is very very real. It’s totally normal to feel like giving up on a daily basis because you don’t trust your decisions – even the most professional and prolific artists doubt themselves! Entrepreneur Darius Foroux once said, “If you never feel like quitting, that means life is too easy and you need to take action in your life” – now that’s one way to look at it!


Lesson 4: People aren’t creative or practical – break the box!

Just because you’re creative doesn’t mean you’re not a boss on the business side of things. Oftentimes, things like getting a business license, paying for your own health insurance, tracking your income & expenses are easier than you think especially if you have a Union behind you or the help of a friend. 


Lesson 5: You don’t need to spend a lot of money in the early years 

Oftentimes the first thing new freelancers want to do is set up a flashy website, but they don’t necessarily need one. If you work in the digital world then it’s important to have a web presence, but generally, a basic portfolio site is all you need to start, then you can add to it if you need to.


Lesson 6: Money and lifestyle can be unpredictable and sometimes extreme 

Some months you’ll find yourself in such demand you can’t keep up with the workload and you’ll be cashing it in. Other months may be super tight and you’ll find yourself bulk-making soup for the week. Saving in the good months so you have a financial buffer makes things far less stressful.


Lesson 7: Package your Services

Writing up different quotes for each project can be super time-consuming. After a while, however, you may notice a pattern emerging; usually, around 3-5 different types of services will be asked from you. Once you have these down offer up packages instead of separate prices and quotes. This makes invoicing much easier. 


Lesson 8: Market yourself 

Schedule content for Instagram using software such as Later as a way to ensure that your work is constantly being promoted. This helps find new clients in the quieter months. 


Lesson 9: Collaborate 

Even the greatest artists seek inspiration from other artists. The evolution of natural style is partly because of taking it to new places, listening to the thoughts of others and fusing it with other practices. Reach out to freelance artists within your field who you feel may be able to introduce you to new ways of working as well as broaden your audience to a wider demographic. 


Lesson 10: Have Fun! 

There’s a reason you chose this lifestyle – you love it! You love what you do and that’s a privilege you worked hard to earn. Even though we all have to make money, it’s incredibly healthy to play and experiment without an end game. During quieter months, collaborate with friends on small budget projects, indulge in the creativity and see where it takes you! 
Creative Freelancer Guide to mental wellness and business


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