Even though I had been freelancing part time for years before I finally took the full-time plunge, several things that I didn’t expect caught me off guard not long after I started my business. Two are particularly noteworthy. One was a pleasant surprise, but the other was a shock. Here they are. Consider yourself warned.
The Good: My opinions and advice became more valuable – My last real job was a relatively high-profile one for a company that was a major player in the same industry where I launched my freelance writing business. I was well known, but I doubt anyone considered me a Sage. Within months of being on my own, however, business executives, former colleagues and editors began seeking my insights on people, companies and trends. Even more shocking, they actually seemed to take my advice when I made suggestions and recommendations.
Aside from the ego boost, this has turned into one of the most gratifying aspects of my business because it’s allowed me to have positive impacts on the careers of many other people.
I remember how it started. A client was looking to hire a new sales manager and asked if I knew anyone. By sheer coincidence, I had just gotten off the phone with a former co-worker who was in a jam and needed a new job. I gave his name to my client, and he was hired within the week. Similar “coincidences” have occurred over and over in the past 25 years, and I’ve been fortunate to be in the position to help numerous friends and colleagues find jobs.
And you know how Karma is. Guess who those people call when their new employer needs a writer to work on a brochure or website?
The Bad: My income took an unexpected drop one year – Talk about a wake-up call. Remarkably, it didn’t happen to me until I had been in business for almost 10 years, and that’s probably why it was so shocking. I had convinced myself that income would keep rising because that’s what it always did. Right?
Wrong. Businesses have ups and downs due to changes in the economy, loss of clients, or new competition. And your freelance writing business isn’t immune. My business lost two big clients in the same year, and it caught me flat footed. I had gotten too comfortable and stopped prospecting for new business. I had to scramble to try and replace the lost revenue.
That incident taught me two valuable lessons that every freelancer should know – First, your income will probably fluctuate and you have to live accordingly. Second, never stop looking for new business. Ever.
Those were tough lessons to learn, but believe me, I took both to heart.
Want to know more about what it takes to be a successful freelancer? I recently recorded a class that I’ve presented to local writers’ groups for the past couple years, and you can watch it for free online. Check it out – Six-Figure Freelancing: Three Keys to Success.