Today I celebrate my one-month anniversary of being self-employed full-time! Goodness! What a month it has been! Surprisingly, it’s been pretty amazing.
Honestly, it’s a life altering experience. I can spend hours talking about how much I love being self-employed and how quitting my job was one of the best personal decisions I’ve made in … well…forever. However, today I’m going to focus on the many wonderful things I’ve learned in this seemingly incredibly long month. Yes, it’s been a long month, but it’s been fulfilling.
These are some things I wish I would’ve known before I got started. I’m positive other people gave me advice like this, but it didn’t really hit me until I was learning and experiencing for myself. I’ve always been hard-headed, and had to learn things the hard way. I appreciate all learning lessons though, and I wanted to share some with you. So if you’re going to become self-employed soon, pay close attention and learn from my mistakes so you can be fabulous and productive right off the bat!
Get in a routine and stick to it. Freedom to do whatever day in and day out doesn’t mean one should do whatever day in and day out. One week while attempting to work, I decided to watch BOTH seasons of Orange is the New Black, a David Tutera Marathon, followed by Criminal Minds reruns. Understandably the least productive week I had. To say I accomplished nothing would be an understatement. So after that I made sure to get into a solid routine. Wake up at a certain time (the earlier the better), start work at a certain time, eat lunch at a certain time, finish my workday at a certain time. I made sure to work in a dedicated work space- not bed. Bed only sets you up for the kill. I give myself a good structure so I don’t slip into distraction (or sleep). Since then I’ve been much more productive and furthermore, it makes me feel good about myself.
Set rates/prices you’re comfortable with. Its called survival. Back in the days of working full-time while freelancing whenever I could, it didn’t matter so much what I was charging. I enjoyed designing and I was making enough at my job to get by. When I could only work a few hours every night it was hard to see how much time I was spending on each project. Now that I don’t have a steady income, the money really matters. I quickly realized that I was charging way too little for the amount of time I was spending on each project. I had no money to invest in supplies or learning and I certainly couldn’t maintain my standard of living with my pay. Therefore my prices made a big jump. Sure at first it gave me anxiety. Some people didn’t like it, while others understood. I mean you can’t win ’em all. Since then I’ve attracted clients who really appreciate my work and I’ve been happier knowing that I was getting the pay I deserved for the time spent.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be careful with discounts. Family and friends who REALLY support your craft will support you no matter the cost. They shouldn’t want you to lose money. Of course the occasional giveaway is ok. And yes, in the beginning you may have to do a few promotional/marketing/advertising favors to get your name out there, that’s understandable. DON’T make it a habit. You can’t make a living giving out handouts.
Don’t waste time. Its called discipline. It’s a very simple concept and cycle. If I don’t work. I don’t get paid. It’s that simple. I don’t get paid if I don’t do the marketing/advertising that brings in new clients. I don’t get paid if I don’t update the website that informs potential clients. I don’t get paid if I don’t create the contracts I send to my clients. I don’t get paid if I don’t make it happen as far as designing and planning. I have to use my time wisely. I can’t just take days off because no one is around to tell me I can’t. I can’t hang out on Instagram all day, or have sushi dates throughout the whole week, and expect a steady and successful flow of income. If I want to get paid, I have to work my ass off and take every necessary step to get those payments that pay my bills.
Stay organized. This was one of the hardest things I had to conquer. I use to be the “Queen of Procrastination.” You can’t do that with your own business. I don’t have an assistant. I don’t have a full staff. My organization is key. Without proper organization skills, things can easily go to shits. It makes the difference between a workday going smoothly and a workday being disastrous. I’ve gotten a little better and I’ve already noticed a huge difference! I’ve got two planners. One planner to keep my work days (and life in general) organized. The other planner is my content calendar. I’ve got a meticulously organized binder for my client contracts, questionnaires, notes, etc. I keep detailed track of my finances. That is a MUST. When I fail to plan out my day or decide to just wing it, I’m much less productive. I know I’ll thank myself later for being so on top of my books and having an organized place where I can keep printed documents. There’s nothing worse than losing paperwork. Here’s to being organized!
Everything is going to be OK. Be confident! I was FREAKING out when I quit my job. What if I don’t make it? Have I officially lost my mind? What if I’m not cut out for this whole business owning thing? Thoughts like these are crazy, and will only hinder your growth. It’s so easy to spazz out. When those thoughts start to cloud your head. Take a deep breath and think to yourself… What if I succeed? We are all capable of amazing things. If you fear failure, you’ll fear success. You’ll have some good days and some bad. Keep it moving. It’s all good.
I took the leap of faith, and it has gone so much better than I ever expected! I’m proud of where I’m at and where I’m going! Being confident is contagious. When you are confident in yourself, it instills confidence in your clients! Confidence in your clients leads to loyal clientele. Loyal clientele means they will keep coming to you and tell their friends about you. Alas, your business is growing. As long as you’re passionate and believe in yourself everything will work out. Keep the faith.
Are any of you thinking about going out on your own? Are you self-employed? What lessons have you learned? I need to know more!