A common question I get asked is "what made me decide to go freelance? I bet it's scary". To answer the scary part, yeah, it definitely was and still is. I mean when you put it into perspective, there is no security blanket to fall back on, and you are 1000% betting on yourself. But, it also has been the most rewarding 6 months in my professional career so far. I know that I am building on something that directly represents me and what I'm about. So here are some things I have learned and advice to anyone who is potentially looking to make the jump.
1.) Be Honest With Yourself
Best piece of advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about quitting their job and looking to go into a freelance position is to be completely honest with yourself and if this is what you are looking for. What I mean by this is, that know if you can handle uncertainty, and be in a constant state of flux when you start. You are not going to have a steady paycheck every two weeks, and there really isn't a "routine" to everyday life. You are essentially the artist, marketer, accountant, sales rep and customer service manager all in one. So you need to be prepared to learn about all of those on top of the actual creating aspect. Its stressful, but awesome. Personally, I'm thankful for my sports background that made me a highly competitive person in which I refuse to settle for becoming average, or just getting by. I think you need to have that mentality of wanting to be the best and not letting anyone tell you different. If you have that,then I think you'll love and thrive in the freelance life.
2.) Freelance is so much more than creating
One of the toughest things I have had to learn is that you have to be just as good at business, as you are at creating. Looking at peers who are also in the freelance world, those who are succeeding are the ones who are great at running a business. People will try to take advantage of you and not pay you what your worth, which is just how the world works. If you can buy something cheaper, you're not going to say no, right? So it's important to know your value and the value you are providing for companies, and quality of work you are providing for others. A common frustration among most photographers/artists I talk to is that our skill set is not valued in the way it should be. It takes years of practice, time and money to gain the knowledge and skill to become a professional and it's important that you understand your value. Know image rights, contracts, etc. This will all help make you look more professional and also save yourself from being taken advantage of.
3.) Sometimes you need to spend more to get more back
When I first started, I came in with a "don't spend any money" mindset. But, I quickly realized that me being cheap and not paying for quality or for someone else to handle a task for me, was actually costing me more money and time. Instead of paying someone with a graphic design background to help me with something I would try to do it myself. Two days later I'd be right where I started and essentially wasted all of that time I could have spent on other aspects of my business. So sometimes it's best to just bite the bullet as it will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road. Once you get a steady income flow and want to learn more about whatever aspect you are outsourcing then great. But starting off its important to get the ball rolling and not be stagnant.
4.) You're a professional, act like it
If you want to be taken seriously, you can't approach clients like you're just some bro off the streets with a camera. Build a website, create quality business cards, make a professional email address. Don't keep your old gmail address you have from middle school. If a client receives an email from email@example.com pretty sure you will have a hard time being taken seriously. First impression is so pivotal when it comes to anything in life. It's important that clients know you mean business and you're not an amateur. So take pride in your work and your company.
5.) Failing is not a bad thing
You will be turned down, and a great idea you had will not work out the way you planned. But, this isn't bad and you shouldn't get down on yourself about it. Life is all about learning and take "failure" as a chance to learn and better yourself. Nobody is perfect and a pitch you had that worked with one client might not work with another. This is just how the business goes, but it is no reason to become discouraged. Believe in yourself and know that you are great at what you do. People have obviously taken notice of your talents to make you take the leap or give you the thought if you should or not. Know you are talented, and if someone says no to you, then just bust your tail to make sure that when they see your work next, they realize they should have said yes.