There are lots of websites out there offering sensible advice on how to become a freelancer. This blog isn’t one of them! But if you ever decide to throw all your cards up in the air and start again, then maybe my way will work for you.
Back in January I set myself a few ‘Hopes’ for the year. Two months in to 2014 and I can check one off. I have just signed my first freelance contract and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
I will be working as a Sponsorship Manager for a work-life balance charity that has become very important to me over the last few years.
As you would imagine, being a work-life balance charity, the work is part-time and uber-flexible and largely I will be working at home around my other commitments. How amazing is that all you Corporate people? The budget I have been given is minuscule compared to the last Sales budget I had my Investment Banking role. It ought to feel like a doddle, but I couldn’t be more petrified of failing!
The sun has been shining this week and the temperatures are climbing. Spring is poking it’s daffodil-shaped head above the ground and I am here in the real world ready to welcome it. On Friday, after I had done a few hours of work, I sat in my garden, had a cup of tea and listened to the birds. If this is freelance work then it suits me. No wasted time commuting, no interruptions.
So how did I get to this point and what would I recommend you try if you dream of the freedom that freelance work can offer?
Some people plan carefully, others act on impulse, but I believe that you can’t really open your mind to new possibilities until you remove yourself from the situation that is stifling you. Before I could even begin to think about finding new work I had to escape. Leaving a stable, well paid job was nerve-racking and felt illogical and scary, but I knew I couldn’t think while I was stuck in that particular rut.
2. Say ‘Yes’
I had no idea what I wanted to do – truth be told I still don’t have anything I want to do 10 hours per day – maybe I never will! The best way to open my mind was to get on and say ‘Yes’ to things. Free events, paid events, networking evenings, volunteering, courses…anything. Don’t be too picky, just follow your heart and try it all. There have been times in the last few months when I have been exhausted from dashing around London fitting it all in, but it has also been exhilarating and a great way to get to know myself again. Remember, you can only know that you don’t like something when you have actually tried it.
3. Tell Everyone
When you are being completely open-minded about where your next work will come from you need to tell everyone you meet, just to see what pops up. This is not a very targeted way of finding a role and not many ‘life coaches’ will tell you this is the right way to do things, but it can work.
There have been disappointments. Getting rejected from job applications is really no fun. Twice I met people that I really wanted to work with and I offered to work for free to try and get started. Twice I was disappointed when they didn’t take me up on my offer. I don’t understand it, but I am trying not to get upset about it or take it to heart. You never know what might happen in the future, and you will have at least learned something from your new contact.
4. Look for the Synchronicity
Also known as ‘Right Place, Right Time’ and ‘Life’s Little Coincidences’. When you are out of your ‘normal’ environment and meeting new people you start to make all kinds of connections. Open up and talk to people, but also be sure to listen to them. I have been amazed to find out about other people’s businesses and who knows who. Not everyone is hiring when you meet them of course, but when they do they might just think of you!