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Easing into freelancing: a 5-step guide

Moving from a 9-to-5 (actually, make that 9-to-7), full-time job to an apparently freedom-infused freelancing career may sound like every bored corporate’s dream. Sure, it’s nice to sometimes wake up at 9 instead of having already answered a dozen emails by the same time. And being able to jump on a bike to the beach if you spot those epic sunset-predicting pink hues is nothing to scoff at. But, as someone who made the daunting transition only 6 months ago, I can tell you it ain’t always an easy feat.

As you navigate the muddy waters of being your own boss, here are a few tricks to keep yourself on course when those first waves start hitting:

1. Dress for success

No need to slip into your suit first thing in the morning, but changing into a somewhat professional outfit makes you feel just like that – professonal. So get out of your jammies and put on a decent pair of jeans, a neat shirt, and a pair of shoes, even if you’re staying in.

2. Find your happy place

There are those lucky few who can get ‘in the zone’ no matter where they’re working: cross-legged on the sofa or in the noisiest of cafes. Try a few places, such as your local library, coffee shops and co-working spaces, before you settle on your favourite freelancing hangout. There are no rules as long as you can fully focus there.

3. Start to schedule (more)

You may not always stick to what you wrote down in your planner, but it helps to give yourself a framework. Begin by jotting down all your assignment deadlines, and add in all regular tasks (for instance, one of my gigs includes a weekly newsletter that goes out on Tuesdays) and upcoming appointments (be these an interview for your article or zumba class). And, yes, you may now finally go full-on Dutch and say: “Sorry, hoor, need to check my agenda!”

4. Give up the guilt

If I had a cent for every time someone told me “You must have all this free time now!” I might be able to buy a (really tiny) pack of crisps. You may also hear – albeit in a harmless tone – that your life is now basically a vacation. If you’re a bit insecure, guilt might start to creep in. And you should let it creep right out. Sometimes you’ll be buried in work, typing out thousands of words to meet competing deadlines, and other times you’ll be preening your already pristine LinkedIn. And that’s ok.

5. Share your story

Tell your best friends about your failed pitch, call your mom when you get an awesome assignment, tweet your big article. The list can go on and on, but the point is that talking about your freelancing adventure makes it feel more like the big venture that it is. And sharing your story with those who earned the right to hear it – or different aspects with the right audience – will help you stay you balanced and strong.

Catalina Iorga is a 2015-2016 HUTAC Board Member and a freelance journalist focused on sustainability and arts & culture. She also likes to help SMEs expand their online reach. 

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