“How to Make It As a Freelancer” at General Assembly

The event was called “How to Make It As a Freelancer”. I jokingly called it “How to Come to Terms with Paying Your Own Health Insurance” and “How to Tell Your Landlord that You Can’t Pay Rent But Can Offer Him Exposure”. Unsurprisingly, I left feeling a little less defeated about starting my own business and a little more encouraged by the freelance community.

The event was incredibly informative. A panel of five freelancers sat at the front of the crowd: a copywriter, a strategist, and two designers. It was encouraging to hear them speak of their experiences, but also to hear questions from the crowd. The struggles I’m going through–regarding design and my own business–are the struggles that everyone goes through. The panel shared useful tips for working as a sole proprietor in the creative field, and brought up some good points:

  1. Healthcare is ridiculous, but it’s the price you pay for freedom.
    No one is going to pay your health insurance for you. Conversely, no one is going to tell you when to work, where to work, or how to manage your schedule.
  2. The best way to cut through all the noise online, is get get offline.
    There is an insurmountable amount of competition on the internet. The best way to meet a new client is to form a relationship. Visit their storefront. Set up a coffee. Produce good work and be friendly.
  3. Have contact with an accountant and a lawyer. They’ll keep you out of trouble.
    Play by the book. Have a detailed contract for each client, and keep track of cash flow and expenses for your business. Acting with foresight will benefit you in the long-term. Even if you only utilize the resources once a year, make a good connection now and build a relationship.
  4. Get Quickbooks.
    Again, keep track of your income and expenses, and stay out of trouble. It’s affordable. Use it.

It was great to hear stories of how each got their start. It served to reinforce that freelancing is a personal journey! Many people arrive, but your path is entirely your own. I often question myself because my self-confidence doesn’t allow me to take the same path as other freelancers. Hell, I’m 28 years old and not wildly successful yet! But that’s okay–and normal. Like I said, each road to freelancing is based on a serendipitous series of events, and I’m just in the middle of mine so far.

So, I went home, got Quickbooks, and now I’m one step closer to the end (or the beginning) of my journey.