The following is a guest post by Annie W, the travel blogger for Dobovo, the Kiev-based accommodation search engine:
As a freelancer and an avid traveler, one of the most common questions I get is: how much do you make? But after that, the next most common question I get is: what is it like? My answer is can be anything from ‘wonderful’ to ‘stressful’. It might even just be me ripping out my hair if it has been a particularly difficult week.
First of all, this is not an advertisement. I’ve been using FreshBooks for a few months now and I absolutely love it. It just works so perfectly and saves me so much time and allows me to collect more from clients in my freelancing business. This is my honest & sincere endorsement.
As a freelancer like me, your time is extremely valuable. You’ll need software that is straight to the point and easy to use. This is where FreshBooks comes in. FreshBooks is cloud-based accounting software primarily for service-driven small businesses, which is perfect for freelancers and small agencies. To us freelancers, it’s a timekeeping and billing service allowing a variety of uses such as invoicing, expense tracking and time tracking. It also has accounting reports and tax features.
If you want to have a full schedule of projects and a list of solid clients to draw from, there is one key ingredient that many newcomers to freelancing do not budget enough time for – that’s prospecting for new projects and new clients.
In my book, The Fast Track to Freelance Success Online, I made the statement that my bidding ratio is 30 to 1. That means that I may bid on an average of 30 different projects in order to be awarded one. One of my readers commented on that statistic. She had given up after bidding on less than six projects on the freelance bidding sites. She’s going to go back and will put a bit more effort into the process.
That ratio is simply my own estimate and does require some qualification. First, one project might mean doing a single press release, it might mean a set of six blog articles, or it might mean an ongoing order for 10 articles a week. Not all projects are created equal.
There are a million awesome things about freelancing. You are your own boss. You set your hours. If the weather’s nice, you can stop and take the dog out for a jaunt in the park. You get to do what you love, every day, and nobody else takes credit for your hard work. Having built your own business gives you an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
It’s not all butterflies and roses and three-hour lunch breaks, though. I’ve found that some of the biggest—and least expected—challenges I face as a freelancer have been problems of perspective, of priorities, of wondering if this really is a legitimate career. In other words, the “mental” side of freelancing.
Below are three things I’ve struggled with, along with some solutions that work for me. If you have anything to add, either a problem or a solution, please leave a comment!
Work wherever you want — one of the priceless benefits of freelancing
The Priceless Lifestyle
Freelancing is not just about the money or the potential to make money. Actually, it’s mostly not about the money. It’s about the fantastic, liberating lifestyle that accompanies it. It’s the magnificent freedom to…
- Do the work that I love
- Work when I want
- Work where I want
- Work with who I want
- Be my own boss
- Have no limits
Should you concentrate on a particular niche or have a more generalized knowledge base and skill set?
One of the most common questions beginning freelancers ask themselves is, “should I be really good at one thing or pretty good at many things?” The answer is – you guessed it – it depends. There are advantages and disadvantages to both specializing in one area and having more general knowledge in several areas. Here are the main pro/con arguments.
The Beginning (ca. 2004-2006)
This is the kind of thing that initially motivated me... (a PowerBook G4 at the time)
I’ve always been a techno nerd, gadget geek, and somewhat of an Apple fanboy (less so now than when I was younger). Unfortunately, for a 14 year old kid with no job, I didn’t have a means of affording and playing with cool new computer equipment or electronics. A small allowance, birthday gifts, and Christmas gifts were my only “income” generators.
To change this, I decided to start a small neighborhood business helping people with their Macs (naturally, because I was obsessed with Apple and knew a lot about Macs). I asked my parents if I could put a small advertisement in a small, local newsletter and they agreed to help me pay for that ad. My starting hourly rate was a very respectable $10.
Over the next year or two, I slowly and irregularly began acquiring clients, mostly friends and acquaintances of my parents. My legs, bike, and scooter were my modes of transportation. I troubleshooted and fixed computers, printers, and networking issues and taught clients how to perform tasks on their Macs, as well as answer any random tech-related questions they had.
Around this time, I also became very interested in web design and taught myself HTML, CSS, and Photoshop. This interest and these skills would become very useful later.
Opening Up Doors (ca. 2006-2008)