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Three tough truths for any freelancer

Updated: Apr 19



If you're a freelancer, you already know that your mental health is taking some new hits on this journey. Different hits to the ones life has thrown at you so far. Because it’s so different to anything you will have done before. 


So liberating, so challenging. So flexible, so time consuming. 


Real talk today. Truths, myths and legends of the freelance world. I want this to read as a diary entry. And look, if you’re new here, you need to know I’m a positive guy. Check my Instagram. See that smiley face? That’s real. Read my comments, you’ll quickly see that my community (which took about 7 months of consistent posting and genuine engagement to feel real enough to call it that) react to me and my work with lots of positivity and lovely little emojis. Head over to my LinkedIn, you’ll see the same there (minus the emojis, they don’t do such things over there.)


Truth is, I have wasted hours digesting other people’s exaggerations and success stories. The lies are everywhere and the truth is hard to find. No matter the platform, you have to remember this.


So I hold myself accountable. When I post and when I speak to others. I ensure that my story and guidance is grounded and balanced. The most common compliment I receive is that my words are honest. If I can be thought-provoking, witty, funny and original, amazing. But above all, I have a responsibility to present my truth to other freelancers.


I’ve been mentoring recently and I pride myself on offering my clients real feedback. On their socials, their business, their mentality. Real feedback, delivered with professional care and consideration. The only way I know how.


So that’s what today is. It’s not a generic top tips piece with, ‘put your phone away for two hours’ (because you won’t) or a ‘take time in the evenings with your loved ones to switch off’ (because you won’t - you’ll be boring them to tears with talk of keyword research). It’s real thoughts, feelings and experiences. All in the name of honesty to prepare you for what’s really coming your way if you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer.


Busy Brain


Your mind will be constantly busy. Busy thinking about you. Busy thinking about others. Busy thinking. All this in a way that is so very different to what your 9-5 entailed.


If you switched off on the drive home from the office in that job you hated, get used to thinking about your website SEO before you go to bed instead.


If you found frustration working with colleagues with questionable skill sets, be prepared to be introduced to an army of like-minded professionals that are incredibly both community and competition.


The list of oxymorons, parallels and antithesis could go on…and on. In fact, I could probably hit my 1000 word minimum in that style alone. (You should know that I just jotted that idea down in my planner for a future LinkedIn post. Because that is my world. It will soon be yours too.)


Every pondering I have, every business I visit, every nice moment I share has well and truly become content. Opportunity. Once upon a time I would’ve shaken my head at anybody thinking like that. Taking pictures of their cute dogs and kids to keep the followers happy. It’s funny how quickly it becomes obsession though. I wrote ‘part of you’ first, but then changed it. I want this to be real. You will be obsessed. I think you almost have to be, getting started at least. 


Obsessed may feel extreme to read, but once you start realising how often you’re dragging down on your phone to just check you definitely haven't had any more comments on your posts, you’ll know what I mean. Or you won’t. Because you’re in denial. But in my experience, you need a certain level of dedicated persistence (I’ve softened it a bit for you) because without chipping away at your website visibility and socials growth regularly, the harsh truth is you just aren’t going to be seen.


The silver lining? It will ease up. Securing client work will see you feel a little more comfortable about backing off the socials. Maybe one day you’ll even be able to outsource a task or two. But let’s not get carried away, if you’re reading this as a newbie, then that’s not happening anytime soon I'm afraid.


Learn the Lies


You will be faced with hundreds of lies each day. Propaganda from those pretending the path is simple. Hyperbole from those that preach financial freedom in a matter of months. 


Ultimately, you’re growing a business. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. Nothing happens quickly. If it does, I think luck has genuinely been on your side. If you have a set of existing contacts or have worked with an agent that has sent work your way before, you will have a head start. But if you’re starting from scratch, you’re going to have to be patient. You're probably going to need some savings to fall back on too. What you aren't going to be doing is making thousands of pounds writing blogs for businesses because they do not know you exist. And no, you aren’t going to make the equivalent of your salary writing one email. You’ve put the time into learning and getting excited, you can leave Youtube alone for a little bit now.


Money Myths


Which brings us perfectly onto the elephant in the room for most. Money. How much to charge for a blog? How much can I make in a month as a SMM? I learned quite quickly that perception is everything when it comes to the truth about making money as a freelancer.


Just because someone has thousands of followers, it has no direct correlation to their income. They may well post picture perfect reels and run the most amazing coaching courses, but this does not mean they are fully booked with clients. Get to know them. Connect. Ask them. Repeat the process with others.


You’ll waste a lot of time pondering pricing your services. Guaranteed. The quick truth is that there is no set price, no matter what stage of the journey you’re on. Again, network. Ask those you have formed relationships with what their stance is and make a decision. Chances are that you’ll change them at some stage anyway, so don’t overthink it. Oh and when it comes to  maintaining client consistency, my advice is to trust those that sing from the ‘feast and famine’ hymn sheet. If you’re freelancing, especially early on, consistency is not guaranteed at all. Or ever, actually…


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So there we go. 3 tough truths. All with good intention, I promise you. There’s a lot of information out there and so many opinions, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed.


When it gets to that point and you’re doubting your own ability or path, take a breather and check in with a contact. Someone that knows you well. Someone you can relate to. You’ll come away from that call feeling positive in all you have achieved. It’s easy to lose track of the mini-successes we have all the time as business owners (remember, that’s what you are now) and it’s often the kindness of others that is needed to remind us. 


Keep chipping away, keep growing. One step at a time.


  • Just starting out and need a friendly, honest face to give you some guidance? I mentor writers and small business owners to offer strategy tips and tricks. Sound like something you’d benefit from? Drop me a quick message.


  • Like what you read? Grab a peppermint tea and check my other Blogs for more on freelancing and fatherhood.


  



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