Things freelancer never told you

By David Yu

What inspired me to become a freelancer?

I was living in an airbnb share house a few years back. Most people came on their vacation with their cameras and tour guide. Occasionally, there are a few people staying a bit longer. They came with their laptops and headphones.

They are freelancers or digital nomads, traveling the world while doing work on their laptops.

At the time, I was doing a full-time job, working in the same location most of the time. So the idea of being able to control their own time and space pulled me in harder than the black hole in Interstellar.

Then I started looking for ways for me to pursuit that lifestyle, doing translations, teaching Chinese to Japanese people, learning to code, and now I am a software developer. There are a few things I want to say to the old me three years ago.

You might work more hours than a full-time job

Yes, freelancing is still work, because your clients trust you, so you can’t let them down. And because you always put in 200% effort, the old clients will come back to you while you juggle multiple projects. You will be forced to grow faster. Until you work smarter, it’s hours of pure hard work required.

Being busy does not equal to monetary outcome

This goes along with working smarter. Being effective is better than doing ineffective things efficiently, everything in the freelancing world is extremely result oriented. You are not the only person with these skills, but you can always improve and learn new skills.

You need to schedule rest

Some people say, “Sleep when you’re dead” But if don’t sleep now, you might die sooner. Good clients will understand that you are not a robot that runs 24/7. Schedule ahead, notify them, recharge and continue.

The pay can be equal or better than a full-time job

It’s a pleasant surprise. You might be worried now, but once when you have momentum, you work hard and smart. You can provide the lifestyle you want for the people you care about.

When you’re not paid, considered it as practice

There will be times when your skills are not good enough for people to pay for it. Hire yourself first. Think of fun projects that you want to build. You might not have the skills required to build such a thing, but who cares, it’s for yourself, go do it and learn as you go.

Quality freelancer attracts quality clients

Clients are human too. They make mistakes and have different values. Do your part. Only make promises you can keep. Follow through your words. Understand the needs before providing a solution.

The world is your playground

Doing freelancing on the internet allows you to find client all over the world. Although face to face communication is still the best way to establish trust, once you have established a long-term relationship with a client, it becomes easier to do online communication.

Nobody will tell you what to do or how to do something

The client hires you, because you’re the expert. It’s your job to figure out the right way to do certain things. It’s definitely ok to ask for clarification on the requirements. Actually, ask more clarifications if possible. You don’t have superpower to read people’s mind yet.

Teamwork is still important

Rarely, you will work on project in solitude. Even without a team, you are still on the same team with the client. Understanding your teammates, giving them the credit when you can, you will be happy while doing the work.

Non-work related overhead always take longer than expected

The logistics of signing a contract, figuring out the requirements, always requires a lot of communication, and it’s important to get right from the start.

This article was originally posted in Medium.

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