7 Things No One Told You About Being a Freelancer

7 Things No One Told You About Being a Freelancer
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On the morning of Jan 4, 2016, I was nervous, anxious and terrified. I walked into work restless, palms sweaty but had a sly smirk stretching from ear to ear that I couldn’t wipe off my face. It was an exciting day, scary but liberating, and a date that would go down in history. It was the day I would quit my 9-5 to become a freelancer. I knew it would be the last day ever, of working a dissatisfying full time job, while fulfilling someone else’s dreams, even though I had my own.

A plan was set up to have consistent freelance work by partnering up with a woman who stood very solidly in her private client styling career. I mean, she was working with the wealthiest women in Manhattan. There scent of money was so strong, it was obnoxious. I wasn’t in the least bit concerned, I trusted her and after numerous business and planning meetings, I took the leap of faith to change my reality for good. It was happening and at some moments it felt too good to be true. It was too easy, she was too giving she was offering me too much help to start my own business.

Fast forward to three months in, she backs out on our deal. The steady stream of work she promised me was taken away from me in a matter of seconds.

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After my anger and shock mitigated, reality hit and started to settle into my core. I mean, really deeply into my core. Just another lesson of a person I trusted disappointing me. (It’s kind of getting old now. I expect people to have the same heart I have. That is not reality nor will it ever be. And I find myself contemplating if I set myself up for disappoint for believing in people too much and for giving people the benefit of the doubt more than I should.)

People suck, which I’m all too familiar with, but I wasn’t her problem nor was it her responsibility to think about my well being. Thankful for building thick skin at a young age which in turn made me unbreakable, but what was a girl to do?! For a few weeks I felt sad and devastated and teetered on having bouts of depressive behavior (napping throughout the day, not eating). I didn’t have a backup plan and then slowly realized that this was God’s plan.

So, the resilient hustler in me picked up the pieces and recognized I could do this freelance thing on my own. A year in, I could not thank Him enough for removing that toxic woman from my life (along with all the other toxic people I’ve swiftly removed as well). Step one: begin to remove all toxic and negative people from your life STAT.

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As much as we try to plan how we want our life to go, God always reminds us that he is in control. His own plan for us is bigger and better than we could ever imagine.

However, I was thrown into the freelance world unprepared and had no idea what was to come. No day is ever the same so it’s hard to even prepare, but this list is to, at the very least, inform you of all the feels that are coming your way. Get familiar with them before taking your life back from what society deems as a “correct career.”

1.You’ll forget to workout

Not kidding. For the first 6 months I was so worried about how I was going to make money, I forgot to take care of me(minus playing in my basketball league on Tuesday nights). I did cancel my gym membership after I quit my job because it was an expense that was no longer in the budget, but now I work out in my house or run outside. There are no excuses. Don’t let this happen to you.

2. There are no days off. Literally

If you want to quit your job because you think there will be less work, or because you want to go to the beach in the middle of the week or if you think you’ll have all the free time in the world, you’re sadly mistaken. I work Monday thru Monday, if that’s a thing and I even feel guilty for taking a break to spend time with friends, because I always feel like I should be working.

You’ll learn to enjoy your new Friday and Saturday nights and warm sunny Saturday and Sunday afternoons behind your computer. You will actually end up being truly, madly, deeply in love with it. Obsessed would be a fantastic word to use in this case…BECAUSE YOU’RE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE!

3. Guilt.

You will feel guilty for taking breaks. You’ll feel guilty if you don’t have a super productive day and you will feel guilty for splurging on take out once every 3 months. Once you’re up and running and have more than $10 in your bank account at any given time, some of the guilt will subside, but it will never go away. It’s always a work in progress because you will realize taking a real break is good for your soul.

4. Seclusion will become your best friend and worst enemy

There will be times you won’t leave your house for four days in a row, three of which you will be in PJs and two of which you may or may not shower. (I suggest that you get up, get showered and dressed even if you aren’t leaving the house. It’s more of a mental exercise than anything else).

The days of you going to the kitchen hoping to bump into coworkers to chit-chat are over. You may start catching yourself talking to your food, the computer or even the table you stub your toe on, well, because there is no one else to talk to. You’ll learn to force yourself to go out to interact with other human beings but then realize you’ve gotten so use to your solitude, you prefer it…so you head home. This is normal.

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5. You’ll consistently second guess yourself if you made the right decision. The answer is yes. Always yes.

There will be unproductive days and a month or two may pass before you get any work, which means no dinero. (You will get creative on finding others ways to make some mulah. Having more than one source of income is brilliant. Do this). There will be dark days where you feel unmotivated. You may feel like you want to cry…you will cry. You’ll question your decision if you’re doing the right thing.

The solution, you think (moreso your parental unit), will be to go back to a 9-5 for the familiarity and comfort but then remember how miserable you would be. You go to sleep and wake up the next day kicking yourself for even have such rubbish thoughts. The work will then come in, you’ll feel great again about the decision you made. You’ve never been happier. Then it repeats. It’s a vicious cycle. Keep going. Do. Not. Give. Up. 

6. Quick cash? Yea right.

It will take you time to build your business…like a long time, so plan on a year or more. And unless you have consistent clients, there is no consistent cash flow, ever. And net 30? Don’t hold your breath. You will never know when your checks will arrive. Be prepared for this.

7. You’ll constantly be stressed about money

There will be moments you’ll miss your 9-5 only because of a 401k and a consistent paycheck. The inconsistency of income will drive you crazy and will make you more stressed than you’ve ever been before. Yep, even more than meeting a deadline or having a sit down with the CEO of the company you used to work for. Take that stress and multiply it by 10, every day.

But, you will learn how to finally spend properly, frugality will become your middle name and you’ll have to turn down invitations to do things that involve money which result in multiple FOMO moments. But you reassure yourself that there are sacrifices you are willing to make inorder to no longer live for just the weekends.

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I’d like to leave you with a few other notes. You may have heard the myths about freelancers who don’t set an alarm and wake up at 11am or noon because they can, take midday naps or hell, even crack open their bottle of 1942 at 1pm. The temptation is so real, but successful freelancers do not do these things. These moments will not last. Don’t fall into the temptation. Remember, you are your own motivation, this is all riding on you.

Do you have a hard time doing things without the motivation of your boss breathing down your neck or struggle with not having a set schedule (read: no schedule at all)? I would suggest maybe thinking twice about taking the leap right now. This isn’t made for everybody, not everyone is built for this. Remove the naysayers from your life, the people who tell you that you can’t do it or that you’re not good enough and the people who project their insecurities and fears onto you. Remove the negative energy. You are the only person that needs to believe in YOU.

I have never been happier or more fulfilled in my entire life, and even though there are sooooo many struggles and stressors, it is MORE than worth it. 80% of people hate their job but what is even more concerning is that 75% of people don’t know what their passion is. You are in control of your happiness.

PS. This photoshoot is staged-there is no time to leisurely read the newspaper in bed.

If you’re a freelancer, are there things that you struggle with that I didn’t mention on my list? Tell me in the comment section below.

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Gwynnie Bee