A Look at My First Year in Freelancing

Posted on Nov 3, 2011 in freelance | 1 comment

It has been well over a year since I started my business, and I find myself reflecting on how I’m doing. Have I accomplished all that I set out to do in the first year? Have I learned enough lessons and made enough progress?

I think I’ve done a good job. I’ve brought in several corporate clients and made a fair amount of money (enough to support us, at least). I’ve learned a ton about the types of companies I like to work for and those that I don’t. I’m more confident in my skin as a freelancer. I’m not as ready to take those penny projects–I know they aren’t worth my time.

 

Sacrificing for the Future

I started this journey with a ton of grand goals in mind, and I’ve gotten to where I am now with only a few of those goals realized, but that’s okay. The goals were too lofty to be comfortable, and that’s another lesson in itself.

There came a time at the start of my business when I had to choose where to focus my attention and energy. I couldn’t do it all, particularly when I was so new to the freelancing lifestyle. I ultimately felt compelled to focus the past year on corporate projects rather than art-based projects (e.g., blogging, magazines, fiction).

It makes sense that I would do this: I had to support myself first and foremost, and the easiest way to do that was to lean on the foundation I’d created during my in-house life. Many of my clients have come–directly or indirectly–from the connections I had when I worked in the corporate world, so that just shows how important your network can be over time.

Over the year, I often resented focusing on copywriting and was easily distracted by the appeal of my other goals. But honestly, I wasn’t yet ready to tackle creative projects, and I must have known that on a certain level.

Writing a novel, becoming a magazine writer–those are pretty demanding projects that require risk, patience, and self-direction. I needed time to adjust to the idea of jumping into something so big and scary. I also needed experience: in life and in my craft.

I may not have been ready to tackle them last year, but I’m much more ready now, and that says something to me: I’ve spent time focusing on the right things in order to prepare myself for the things I truly want, and the sacrifice has paid off.

 

Defining Your Own Success

If I didn’t have so many goals for myself, do I think I’d be further along in my business than I am now? Probably. If I enjoyed copywriting more, I know I would have collected clients like fireflies in a jar and reaped the monetary rewards.

I tend to go after things that I want with my whole heart, but copywriting isn’t and never was what I want. It isn’t my love. I quit my job for freedom AND for the chance to work on projects that more closely resemble art.

The transition from corporate to true creative was bound to be a tough, time-consuming one, but I’m headed down the right road. Money isn’t really important to me (within reason, of course), but I hope as I work toward the projects I really care about, success (in whatever form) will find me. What I really want is fulfillment, and I already get that on a daily basis.

I’m a naturally impatient person, but my business has taught me patience. It has also taught me to look at time from all angles and understand that the present won’t last long, the future will be here before I know it. The most important thing I can do on any given day is SOMETHING. If I can make even the smallest part of my projects happen regularly, I will progress.

I’m pleased to see that I’ve worked at a pace that is fitting for me. I had to learn to focus my attention on stability first, and I’ve done that. Now I can feel a bit more comfortable taking on new experiences and tackling those less certain but ultimately more meaningful projects.

I can feel myself taking the leap.



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One Comment

  1. I’ve been working as a freelance designer for a few years now and I can relate with everything you said. The biggest difference for me, besides the obvious, is that I don’t have the added pressure of supporting my family on my income. I know that that makes a big difference on how one may approach a freelance career but in the three years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve turned down a job offer only once. The funny thing is I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t said no to most offers and I’m proud of the fact that I said no that one time. I feel like saying yes to everything is a naive strategy but at the same time I’m building a better work ethic. Saying no to an offer really made me feel powerful – as if I didn’t need that work (even though I could’ve used the money) So, I suppose I’m still learning about what kind of work I do and don’t want to do and what pace I can handle. Great work Rachel. Keep it up. By the way, the blog looks so much better since the last time I was here! Very nice!

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