When I started my business five years ago (Happy Anniversary to me as of March 1st!) I did it with no capital and no clients. I really didn’t have solid grounding until mid 2014. It was a rough ride (and it still can be!) but I stuck with it. Like all things you have to walk before you run. As for me, I’m definitely a late bloomer. And as much as I want to be at that next level I know it takes time. Currently, work is extremely busy and I cater to a wide variety of clients. Do I take jobs that I may necessarily want to take? Sure (cashing checks brother). Do I take on gigs that I love – Of course I do. I’m lucky to have a network of repeat clientele that can count on my work. When you’re a freelancer – establishing those relationships is important. It’s also important to know your limitations and not to stretch yourself too thin that you freak out and can’t get any work done. It happens. Freelancing is an interesting thing. You’re basically on your own doing your thing with your skillset. Now, in the grand scheme of things, there are lots of people who can probably do what you do but you have to believe in your work enough that you can keep getting clients and build your craft. Study the folks that you like who are deeper in your industry. They made it work, right? Why can’t you? You don’t have to copy someone but you should learn different approaches and add them to your own. There are tons of things that go into being a freelancer and guess what – we don’t have it easy. We WANT to have it easy and that’s why freelancers work so hard. The grind can be tough and frustrating but the rewards outweigh the tough times. I can go on with motivational phrases and quotes from “influencers” or whatever but at the end of the day – all those quotes DO mean something. BUT so does saying it takes time for something to click but when it does get ready for the next level. Stick to it!
See what I did there with the watches? (Time is what I’m implying)
Being a freelancer can yield the ultimate highs and the ultimate lows. As a freelancer or small business owner you know exactly what I mean. Committing yourself full time to your passion can be an uphill battle but the rewards far outweigh the risks. It’s all about commitment. That being said – the more you produce and the better you hone your craft the more you should acknowledge your worth as a viable commodity for those who need your service.
That means you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Three years ago when I started my business after quitting my go-nowhere job I KNEW I had to make it work. I had no capital, was getting married, and had no clientele. Looking back on it now I’m amazed I’m here. It took equal parts stupidity, bravery, willpower, and goddamn guts. I couldn’t quit. In that first year I took any and all jobs and took any pay that came with. It didn’t matter if I was working a 6 hour shoot for $200 (My client was mixing cocktails for his family at 1pm on a Tuesday in a 6 million dollar home) or working a 4 hour party for $75 (The party was in a loft in Soho filled with pseudo celebs and hangers on) I knew I had to do the grunt work to better my portfolio, gain more experience, and ultimately charge more and get better clientele so I didn’t have to hear someone say “I’d make you a drink but I don’t want crooked pictures! ::Insert smarmy jerk laugh::” or dealing with flakey clients who no-showed or tried to chinse on an agreed upon price.
After a while of plugging away that stuff eventually falls by the wayside and through a sometimes trial by fire you start to learn quickly and know better about how to handle your business. The type of clientele you will start to get will also rise in quality. You just have to keep working at what you do, don’t sweat the competition, and offer your customers something excellent. Customer service is a huge part of this business and it will get you repeat customers time and time again. As time goes on you can raise your rates accordingly, which is great for your business but your work will come under more scrutiny from higher end clientele who want a more perfect package. That being said you need to quote rates that are firm across the board. It would be unfair for you to charge people differently unless you have those awesome legacy clients that deserve a discount here and there because they have been loyal to you.
One of the major things you need to keep in mind is to never give up and never lose hope in yourself or your work. It’s an uphill battle with many factors that may discourage you from continuing but if your passion is your work then the hard work will start paying off in spades and before you know it you’ll have established yourself. The work never stops but at some point you’ll be able to work smarter instead of harder. For example why take 5 jobs that have a payout of $200 per job when you can have two jobs that each pay $500 within a week? As your work gets better so do your rates.
A huge factor in maintaining your business and your lifestyle as a full time freelancer is your positivity. You need to remain calm and positive and keep your eye on whatever prize you have in front of you. It sounds cheesy but it works. Why do you think people are always talking about the power of positivity? Thanks for reading!