This article is a guest post by Andrea Anastasiou. Click Here to submit a guest post.
When I first started out as a freelance journalist and copywriter two years ago, I felt like I knew it all. I had established a few key clients, I had bought myself a brand spanking new desk from IKEA, and I had a year’s supply of coffee in my cupboard ready to go. Yes, I was that much of a writer cliché.
The truth is, though, while I was prepared to a certain extent for what life as a freelancer would be like, I really had no idea what was waiting for me. I’m a self-starter, and I love having my own company, so I felt that these two key attributes as well as the savings that I had managed to accumulate over the years were more than enough to ensure success.
While these things have certainly helped me to sustain a successful freelance career, there are others that I simply was not ready for. Here are just some of the key pointers that I wish someone would have highlighted to me before I set out on my freelance and work from home journey.
1. Never rely on just one or two key clients
During my first year, I focused solely on two clients who gave me a lot of work. I had a great relationship with both of them, so I felt that I had to dedicate all my time and energy on them and gave very little thought to expanding my horizons.
Then, without warning, work for both these companies dried up at pretty much the same time, and I was stuck without any projects for a couple of months.
Since then I’ve diversified a lot more through freelance platforms like Nabbesh, and I opt to do smaller amounts of work for more clients, rather than doing massive projects for just one or two companies as before. This way I know that even if one client no longer has work for me, I will still have money coming in from my other ones.
2. You will get lonely
As I’ve already mentioned, I love having my own company. I’m a typical introverted writer, so I can go for days without making much contact with anyone and still be pretty happy.
When I started freelancing, however, I realised that the reason I was able to enjoy my own time so much in the past was because I got all the social interaction that I needed from work. You underestimate the importance of those small exchanges that you have throughout the day with colleagues.
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Trust me – you will get lonely. If I did, so will you. You will find yourself having random conversations with your doorman or ordering biscuits from your local supermarket just to be able to talk to someone.
The great part is that there are plenty of opportunities for networking with other freelancers in the UAE. Develop relationships with others through Twitter and arrange to meet and work together whenever you can. There are also numerous Facebook groups, such as Freelance Dubai & Abu Dhabi, that you can join.
3. Sometimes clients will take a lot of time to pay
While the majority of my clients make payments on time, there have been companies that have made me beg for my money. I resent this. NO freelancer should have to plead with a company for money that’s rightfully owed to them. In one extreme scenario, I had to go to a certain client’s offices and refused to leave unless they gave me my cheque.
Always make sure you have enough saved in your account for situations like this. Also, try to draw up a work contract with the company that you’re working for. Doing business through Nabbesh also ensures you’ll be paid for the work that you complete if you work within the site’s workflow.
4. Friends often have great leads for new clients
When I first started out, I never thought about asking my friends if they knew of anyone who needed copywriting services. After a few months, a friend of mine put me forward for a project that the company she was working for needed completing. They then became one of my main clients.
Now whenever I’m in need of new work, I always make sure I ask around within my circle of friends first.
5. There’s a lot of competition. Make sure you stand out.
As an increasing number of professionals look to become freelancers, you’ll find that you’ll be competing with a lot of people for work. I never really fully understood this until I started out.
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The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to make sure you stand out. First of all, be incredibly professional in all your interactions with clients. Meet your deadlines. Start your own blog and build an online presence. Trust me, all these things make the world of a difference. You can find more tips in my article on how to become a full-time freelance writer in five steps.
Andrea Anastasiou is a freelance journalist who has worked for publications such as The National for the last two years. She is currently in Vietnam as part of her trip around the world, and she blogs from www.scribblesnaptravel.com with her partner Ankit Rawat, and her personal website is www.andreaanastasiou.com
To hire Andrea, you can find her on Nabbesh.