The Truth About Being a Freelancer

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When I tell someone I am a freelance designer, I usually get one of two reactions. Either they don't know what I'm talking about, or they are envious that I get to work from home. I appreciate both reactions, but I'm going to tell you the truth.

Being able to make my own schedule and working from home is great, and these are two of the many reasons I love being a freelance designer. But let me be the first to tell you that being a freelancer is not as easy as it looks. Why? 

It gets lonely...

I am by nature an introvert. I like my alone time, I like my candles, I like my Netflix, I like my chocolate, and I don't need you to be there with me to enjoy these things. The problem is that each day I wake up in my little room, in my tiny Manhattan apartment with my iMac within an arms reach. While this may sound like a dream, it can be extremely lonely and monotonous. When your only social interaction is with the Seamless delivery guy, you start to feel a little lonely.

TIP: Go to a coffee shop and work from there. Take some time out of your day and leave your home office. Don't question it, just do it. You need to see actual people in actual real life, or you will, and I repeat, WILL go crazy. You don't want that.

It's up and it's down...

Last month was so busy I could barely keep up with my work. I thought to myself, "Wow! Maybe one day I will actually own my own studio and have people work with me, and I could be the creative director, and life will be great!" 

Then reality set in, or what is commonly known as December. All my clients were happy, but there I was. All alone in my apartment, except this time with no work. The only e-mails I was getting were my credit card statements, free shipping at Gap promotions, and other various forms of depressing e-mails.

The point is I went from having a great month, to having a month that made me question all of my life choices. But at the end of the day, I knew it was temporary. And it ultimately was. 

TIP: Just because you had a good week, or a good month, doesn't mean the war has been won. Always have a backup. Have multiple revenue streams. Have some extra money in savings. And next year when it's December and all your clients are buying Christmas gifts instead of your services, you'll be ready!

It's hard to stay motivated...

You'd think it would be easy to stay motivated when you are doing something that you love, but when it's just you, sometimes that can be difficult. You have to hold yourself accountable, and sometimes that isn't easy.

Sometimes you just want to catch up on your Netflix. Sometimes you're frustrated with how work is going. You can't think of ideas, you can't find the right clients, you are compromising your design aesthetic for a picky client, and maybe you have just been staring at your computer screen too long.

Whatever it is, you don't feel motivated to keep going. I've been there, you've been there, we've all been there. It isn't a fun thing, but it's important to keep yourself motivated and moving your business forward.

TIP: It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes you should take a break. An actual break. Not a mindless break where you are scrolling through your ex's Facebook feed, but a break to clear your mind of whatever you are working on so that you can return with clarity and purpose. A second tip to stay motivated is to make a schedule and stick to it. This will help you manage your time and keep you on track.

But I still love it...

After all the obstacles, I keep coming back. Why? I get to be myself. I get to design and do what I love to do, and I get to interact with people who care about my work. I get to make my own schedule. I get to be innovative and creative every day. I get to constantly learn and develop my skills. Is it easy? No. Does it pay the bills? Sometimes. But I still love it.

Can you relate? Have a question? Leave a comment, let's be friends.