10 tips to survive the 1st year of freelancing

Today marks my 1-year anniversary as a full-time freelancer. In the past 365 days I’ve made some interesting observations about this business.

Here are ten I can remember in no particular order:

  1. People are strange. Mostly they’re awesome, but occasionally they’re abusive, overly-demanding or just plain dumb. Get used to it.
  2. You’re not a successful freelancer until you get a grip on your finances. I highly recommend reading “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed“. Also, If you’re in the UK I REALLY highly recommend freeagentcentral.com for invoicing/money management software.
  3. Your inbox is the single most time-consuming aspect of your business. Find a way to tame it (I’m still trying).
  4. Seek out good clients.
  5. Forget about online task management systems. A good notepad and a diary are all you need.
  6. Don’t read blogs. They waste your time and send you on wild goose chases that have nothing to do with your core business.
  7. Find a niche and stick to it.
  8. You may think people on Twitter want to hear all about your clients from hell. They don’t. Clients and prospects also follow you on Twitter and they’ll view your rants as nothing more than trust-breakers.
  9. Establish a routine. I know exactly how many hours I have available every day which makes scheduling projects a lot easier.
  10. Take time out every day to go for a walk. Take a 30 minute break in the middle of the day to get outside, clear your head and solve those annoying problems that plague your days.

Finally, a huge thank you to all my clients who’ve stuck with me this year. You rock!

image credit

  • http://gregrickaby.com Greg Rickaby

    I agree with everyone of the items on your list except 8. :) For me, ranting about taco-stand clients let’s those who follow me know that I’m a no-nonsense guy who does’t like to waste time. In-fact, including the Taco-Stand video on my site has turned potential clients into actual clients. I’ll take quality over quantity any day.

    Best of luck in the next year, you’re one of the good guys.

  • Dave

    @Greg, thanks! I planned out a counter-argument for reason 8, but I think it’s largely down to personality and geography, so I’m going to spend the time opening a beer instead. Cheers.

  • http://maxglim.com sonia.mike732

    I appreciate your work.
    Weldon job.

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  • http://www.madebycamilla.co.uk Camilla Statham

    I love this list, very true indeed. I especially like and agree with number 1! :)