7 Months In: 5 More Things I’ve Learned from Freelancing

freelancingThis is coming after a full day in the middle of a full week so the newsletter is coming out a little late today. I don’t mean to get all diary entry on you all, but I just had 6 meetings in one day today (the fullest day I’ve ever had, meetings-wise) and while I’m definitely tired, I’m also completely energized.

As month 7 of my freelancer life comes to a close (that’s how you know I haven’t been doing it for very long – every month is a milestone!), I feel very… free.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still scared shitless about whether or not I’ll be able to sustain this whole thing – but at the same time, I’m having a blast.

Yesterday, I got to teach a bunch of superstar teenagers about managing their money and this morning, I got to meet with a group of women who are changing the world through microlending.

Here’s what I’ve learned from 7 months of freelancing:

1. Networking is just a part of the job (and something I’m almost starting to look forward to (and something I never regret having done)): you know what changed my perspective? Having master networker, Abi Vega, on the radio show. I asked him what his networking tricks were, and his biggest tip? Always be of service to people. It’s not about what you can get from the people in the room, but what you can do for them and who you can introduce them to. You know, actually build a network. It completely shifted my thinking, especially as someone who really hated the idea of “selling” myself. As soon as I shifted my thinking, I was excited to go to these events and connect with people so I could, well, connect them with people 🙂

2. Follow up, even if you think it’s been waaaay to long since you last followed up: I have to admit, I’ve dropped the ball on following up with people. A lot. I have business cards scattered across my desk and sometimes I’m embarrassed to look through them. I have emails where I reached out, they responded, and I didn’t get back to them. It would make me so anxious just thinking about emailing people again after so long. And then I did it a few times and it turns out, not that big of a deal. Everyone is just as busy as you and more like than not, it’s just fine that you didn’t get back to them right away. They were busy three weeks before too.

3. Limit how many articles on how to be a freelancer you read every day: including this one, haha. I used to fall for every freelance click bait headline I saw. I still fall for most of them because I always want to know how to get more clients, optimize my systems, master time management, use social media to grow my tribe, right? I realized I was reading every article to the point where I was spending more time reading articles than actually implementing anything. Also, it was a great way to feel like I was actually working without actually working. Now I save everything I want to stop and read on Pocket and  if I still feel like reading it later, then I read it.

4. No, you don’t need a co-working space yet: Gosh, I really wanted one though. In June, I was so enamored with the idea of renting a desk somewhere that I almost pulled the trigger on multiple co-working spaces. I told myself it would be a great networking opportunity, that I’d meet new people, have “co-workers” again to meet at a literal water cooler, that I got more work done when I didn’t have a dog and a full fridge to distract me. It was only when I ran the numbers for the 10th time that I was like, “Okay, Pam, you can’t actually afford to pay for a co-working space right now.” No matter how trendy or fun it seems, now is not the time. Instead, I moved my desk to a different corner of the room (overlooking a window, yay!) and got a room divider for when I needed private work time. Maybe next year.

5. Force yourself to exercise and eat healthy: It’s going to suck for about two weeks. Then it’s going to be awesome. When I first switched over to full time freelancer, I had just run a half marathon, was seeing a personal trainer, having at least a salad a day, and working out five times a week. Then my schedule got so unpredictable that I looked up one day in May and I wasn’t doing any of these things. I was waking up and going to bed at a different time every day, not winding down in the evening, and talking myself out of exercise and into emails every morning. I was neglecting it because I told myself I could do it anytime (freelancing, right?) so then I ended up never doing it. And I was so tired and miserable. About two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and started working out again. Then the big salad bowl started appearing in the fridge again and the daily ice cream cravings slowly disappeared. If you feel like you’re tired all the time and don’t have energy left when you finish the day, but still can’t fall asleep at night, add 25-30 minutes of exercise and a salad to your day. Your salad doesn’t have to replace a meal and your workout doesn’t have to be Insanity. But after I crossed the two week mark, my head was clearer, I fell asleep faster, and had way more energy.

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