What I Learned As A Freelancer And Not While Employed

I am not really the person to look back on something, but I’ll do it for three reasons. To learn, to share my experience, or for a chance to laugh loudly and relive a funny moment. I’m all for the latter, and as I’m wired to learn quickest and best by doing, the latter often occurs. Nonetheless, in this blog I’ll focus on the second. But enough about me, let’s talk about my experiences. As a freelance copywriter that is.

Even though I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for 10 years now, up until last year I’ve always worked for companies and did the freelancing thing on the side. For fun, and it was an easy way of making an extra buck by doing something that I love. But because the urge to experience more freedom in my career as well as my personal life became more present, I’ve decided to make the jump and go all freelance. Scary at first, as I put my permanent contract as a content marketer aside and chose to free fall. But now, 1,5 years after doing so, some insights are rising above water which I didn’t expect at first.

1. My flaws (as they were presented on a silver platter)

By making the jump I did not just become a freelance content marketer. I shifted from being only a content marketer, to embodying all roles of a digital media company. Yes, I’m the one that writes, that strategizes, that makes sure all content is matching and posted. But being your own boss also means you have to set hard deadlines for yourself, stay on top of the latest trends, do your own PR, get new business onboard, fix your finances, create a year plan, up until cleaning your desk at your home office. All these different roles can be overwhelming when you first start, but it’s a great way to expose parts of yourself that need improvement. Which will definitely become useful in your personal life as well, because as a freelancer, there’s no more separation between private and business. You are the business.

2. Freedom is a narrative

When I was working my 9-5 all I wanted to do was getting out of the rat race. That’s how it felt to me in my final months. My daily emotion became so uncomfortable that it was very clear to me that I needed to get out. Just to find myself working from 8 am – 11 pm in my first months as a freelancer. Honestly, I loved having so much work, because it gave me a feeling of certainty. But compared to my 9-5 job I was working way more. Nonetheless, of course also earning more, but it became clear to me that freedom is a narrative, and it’s different for everyone. When you’re chasing freedom, be specific in what kind of freedom you actually want. Is it more time? Is it more money? Is it the feeling that you can rely on someone (or a company) to take care of you? To me freedom is related to being in charge of how I plan my days. Even if I have to work 10 hours a day on a project, I still feel more free than during my employment, because I chose to do that project. If that makes any sense? Freedom is attached to all kinds of things, and you sometimes have to switch up some small things to feel more free. Whether this is during your employment in a company or as a freelancer.

3. My mind is a powerful tool in business

Back to the stressing part. Having to be on top of everything in your business can be overwhelming, as it was for me. After having a burn out (working too hard in the wrong role), I was familiar with a certain amount of stress in my work. Being a freelancer came with a different kind of stress. Stress that is more long-term focused as it’s raises questions like ‘Will I have enough money in the future? What if my business fails? What if my retirement plan sucks?’ It gave me stress continuously, which stood in the way of my creativity. That’s when I started implementing meditation in my days, and focusing on creating a healthy mindset. Because these questions were related to my business, but they were not my core business. I aimed for a healthy way of thinking, and learned how to calm myself, and feel certain even during uncertain times. Something I’m still improving every day, as life keeps evolving. Seeing your mind as a tool is one of the biggest hacks someone can have to live a more peaceful and happy life.

4. People want to hear you talk about yourself

This might raise some eyebrows on people who already feel very comfortable talking about themselves. That wasn’t the case for me. I’m more comfortable with listening. Sure, I talk to my friends about my work and discuss (in detail) the occasions in my life, but to strangers, I rather listen. As a freelancer, that attitude will make you sink faster than the titanic, because you have to voice your opinion. You have to be willing to put yourself forward, to be seen. Whether it’s online or in real life. And the fun thing is, I came to notice that people actually like to hear what you have to say. Personal opinions related to your field of work are welcome, because it will start a conversation, it will stick to someone’s mind, or it will just be something that people will forget immediately. And that’s totally fine as well. But to be thinking nobody would really be interested in my experiences, that was a mistake. After all, you’re reading this article as well.

5. Being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

I’ll start this section with a disclaimer, cause feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable only comes in handy to a certain extend. If a situation really is wrong, you’ll feel the difference from deep within and you should definitely listen to that voice and/or feeling. But there is a difference in knowing when you’re uncomfortable, but just need a push. This is mostly before the good old feeling of fear comes along. And when that’s the case, you always have to just push through in order to gain growth. As a freelancer I’ve experienced way more moments of discomfort than I would as an employee. Mostly because the freelance life has more uncertainty to it. Or having to wear different hats that I wasn’t used to, or to pitch yourself again (and again) after hearing a ‘no’ right before, or when I changed my hourly rate up to my experience and had to update my current clients. Whatever makes you feel uncomfortable is very personal, but it’s universal that a person will always experience growth by pushing through (which is by the way also possible in a very subtle, and soft way). And when that moment comes, being able to say ‘I’m feeling discomfort through this and this, and I’m just deciding not to act upon it’, is a feeling of relieve which might even be the biggest achievement I got through this experience.

Even though I’ve learned way more than just these five subjects, these were the ones that stood out most. And of course, which I’m very grateful for. Learning every day is a perfect way to grow.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Talk soon,
Love, Felicia

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