My job is one of the most searched topics on this blog. I’ve been freelancing full time since I graduated, and worked through my degrees, so I have about 9 years of thankless toil, hard graft and fulltime hustling underneath my belt. Despite this, I’m always a bit dubious to use the word freelancing when describing my work. The prevailing stereotype is of trust-fund kids faffing around with bullet journals whilst their partners pay the rent.
Whilst I’m sure we all know somebody who fits that bill, it couldn’t be further from the truth for me and many of my peers. Most of the people I know working in the arts are without full time contracts and for many of us life is a constant slog. It’s freelancing in one form or another, however much we avoid the word. I’ve put together some of tips for fellow freelancers. These are aimed at people who have been freelancing for a few years already rather than those starting out, although I’ve tried to make them interesting for everyone!
When I first started I threw myself into anything that came along. I didn’t formalise my main skills for almost two years! It’s easy to settle into a set rhythm once you’ve had regular clients and projects for a couple of years.
My main goal for this year is to shift my career into a different direction. It’s really easy to get stuck in work that is regular and paid but that’s not why I decided to work freelance! It’s been a while since I worked outside of my regular “pool” so I’m trying to embrace some of those early career, chase-new-projects vibe.
Productivity levels seem like a big buzz trend until it becomes a workplace obsession. Anybody else constantly berating themselves over their own productivity levels? I read every post on “productivity tips” that floats into my realm and most of them are absolute crap. The best tip I received from anyone was a mentor who simply said, “if you want to do more, just don’t do half of it”.
It sounds counter-productive but farming off some of your workload is a brilliant system. I had a PA for about 4 months back in 2015 and I don’t know why I didn’t keep it up! Stuff just got DONE. Huge chunks of time just suddenly revealed themselves! All the stuff I personally loathe, such as dealing with accounts, scheduling social media or uploading CVs was just no longer on my list. I’m planning to re-hire somebody in March because I am swamped with computer based work all the time and honestly, it just slowly drains my soul. Some people love working with computers! If you’re looking for help then with Bidvine then you can find local service professionals for all sorts of different jobs.
If you’re blessed with a totally unique name then WATCH OUT. A quick Google of your name plus “rates” will reveal that you’re signed up to all sorts of job sites. When I first started I signed up to about a dozen tutoring and teaching websites.
Those listings are still knocking around with thoroughly outdated copy, rates and bios! I rarely take the time to take down listings, but it can be harmful. If a potential employee finds patchy info on you and contrary write-ups of you and your work/rates it looks very unprofessional. BAD!!!!!! (Trumpesque styling intended).
This is a personal weakness for me! I rarely talk about my career to anyone, though in the early days I’d regularly meet with friends. We collaborated on each other’s work, offered tips, and generally tried to navigate the industry together. Now I’m in a much more straightforward work pattern, so the need for regular debriefing is gone.
However, I quite often wish I had some sort of careers tutor or mentor like you get given in school. If I worked in an office than evaluations and appraisals would be part of the job description. As it as, freelancers are mostly on their own. Getting an outside perspective can be really useful – although remember to find somebody honest. Asking your social media audience or doting family members for clear and constructive feedback is not the one.
About 18 months ago was the first time I realised I was “getting somewhere”. I was invited to give a talk to some A Level students about working in the music industry. My initial reaction was “wtf?” because I felt ridiculously underqualified. Actually, I found I was able to answer all the students questions with no problem. It was a confidence boost for me! I’ve found that passing on advice helps you evaluate your own experiences.
This goes both ways. I’ve stopped asking people above me for advice largely because I’m wary of being of a nuisance! There’s a few women in my circle I really admire. Whilst I bump into these women at events and gigs on occasion, I never ask them for advice. What’s the worst that could happen if I hit them up for a coffee? At best they’ll be flattered and eager to help, and at worst they’ll politely decline.
So there’s a few tips for you! Is this a topic you would like to read more about? As per my last point – if any of you would like some starting out/beginner advice let me know. Feel free to hit me up with questions!
To use Bidvine, please visit the site (linked above) and you can easily search for a professional near you. The list of registered professionals ranges from cleaners and painters to wedding planners and personal training. You can also sign up – great news for freelancers! – to promote yourself and your business. Creating an account is free and the site works on a pay as you go system. Bidvine covers the whole of the UK so check it out!
*Please note this post contains an affiliate link and is sponsored by Bidvine. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I have been given full creative choice over this post and content.*