Myths and things about freelancing! I wish I knew from startIn my previous post, you can read it here, I talked about what you should be prepared for as a new freelancer. Something that was very appreciated it seems! Because of that I wanted to follow up on things that I (and others) wish they knew when starting their freelance career as creatives. A big part of starting, is to find your own way as a small businessowner. But, there are of course things you can learn from others to not step on the same sunbaked dog shit yourself.
I searched in my own history and asked in my own community of creatives and freelancers about what they wished they knew when starting their business. So here are 10 myths and things about freelancing I wish I knew from start!
Being full of ideas is of course very good. To always see possibilities and solutions. But, to fill that notebook is useless – if you don’t act on them! Ideas are completely useless if you don’t take action and create something from them. Start working on as many you can, because you don’t need to finish them all – just make sure you learn something from all of them
The illusion of bank loans and credit cards
Surely you have read about entrepreneurs who has “loaned money from the bank and just went for it” or “maxed out all their credit cards”. They make it sound like something cool and something you need to do as an entrepreneur. Well… both yes and no. Mostly no. Depending on what type of business you are starting, you may of course need to take a bank loan to buy expensive machinery and such. But, to start your brand-new business with being in debt and have expensive amortizations each month is 9.9/10 times never a smart move. You don’t want the constant stress of “can I make the payments” over your head. You want clients knocking on your door – not the bailiff! Make sure you have a buffer or saved money to use before you start or work extra on evenings and weekends. Know that surprisingly many types of equipment and gear can be rented when the need comes.
It’s super cool to only sleep a few hours a night
Just like above, you probably heard entrepreneurs say they work 18 hours a day, sleeping a few hours and then continuing “hammering on”. This is something that might look cool on your Tinder profile, but will guaranteed hurt you in the long run. As a business owner and creative you need to have your mind with you, all the time. Sleep deprivation might work for you a short while, but will make your concentration and learning ability decline, a lot! It will also make you lose your temper easier. Sleep deprivation during longer amount of time also improves the risk of depression. Work like a MF, but make sure you have time for recovery and sleep!
The hurting artist
The myth of the hurting artist is probably the worst myth I know. That you must have inner pain to create good art. SUCH BULLSHIT! We all feel pain from time to time, that’s just life. To use this pain as a source of inspiration is an amazing ability us creatives have. BUT, to be in constant pain for longer amount of time leads to the opposite of inspiration. Depression, sleep issues, isolation, less mental power and creativity to mention a few. Add self-medication with alcohol or drugs on top of that and you are on thin ice! Take care of your body and mind!
Hang out with a Superman, not the taxman
Make sure you know your obligations to the government and the IRS as a business owner. It’s very easy to get blinded by all the money coming in and spend it all. You need to remember that a good chunk of it isn’t yours (at least for Scandinavia and west Europe) its taxes and VAT. You also need to think about your pension as a small business owner its mostly up to you to set away money. Learn the basics of accounting and how your local taxes work!
Don’t get all your eggs from one hen
BOOM! You just landed your first client, now you can relax… Not really. To rely on only one client isn’t a good idea, how lovable and amazing they might be. Because things can change, fast! A new marketing manager, a new employee with your skillset or COVID-19. To have several hens to get your eggs from reduces the possibility of losing all your income.
What is better than the Swiss army knife? A knife designed for a specific purpose! A surgeon wouldn’t (hopefully) snatch your appendicitis with a Swiss army knife. Even if you have many different strings on your bow, it’s often wiser and cheaper in the long run to outsource some things like the accounting or web design. So you can focus on the things you want and feel is important.
Summer, sun and good times ahead
Finally, vacation! Two weeks in the Bahamas with your best friends. Sun, the ocean and pay! Well, not really the life of a freelancer during summertime. We need to keep working and get to take a vacation day here and there. Something you need to be aware of, (at least for Scandinavia and west Europe) or painfully realize, is that most of your clients are laying two chairs away from your friends in Bahamas. From mid-June to end of August and during Christmas and new year’s. Many companies are slowing down or closing for vacation during these times, you do not. Make sure you have a financial buffer to cover these months!
“We will pay you more later on”
Ha-ha-ha! Every time this sentence lands in mail inbox I laugh. I didn’t laugh each time I fell for it as a newbie. It left a feeling of being scammed and the need of an ass cushion. And, they didn’t call me again as they promised (talk about a bad date). No one will start to pay more later on! That line is just an ugly way to exploit someone who is new to the game to get a cheaper price.
What isn’t written in stone…
We all have heard it before. That everything “it’s all set and ready to go” or “it will be lots of work for you”. But after hearing it for the quadrillionth time, you learn that before you are actually on location or have the technical brief in your hands – It isn’t set before the creative director sings!
Remember! don’t get scared by setbacks, see it for the long run and aim for the light at the horizon! And don’t believe in the myths and other things about freelancing. Stay focused, healthy and on your path.