I started freelancing about a year ago. I’ve always loved the idea of being your own maker, which seems to be a more common goal for people these days. 

I’ve just written an article for about how to make money as a tarot reader, which I will link here.

It got me thinking about how grateful I am to have made so much progress as a freelance in one single year, but then it also got me thinking about how tiring it’s been.  

Here are some pros and cons/ general tips when it comes to freelancing, which might be helpful for some of you to consider if you’re looking at getting into it.

  • A creative mind

If you’re going to be a successful freelancer, you’re going to be required to look at ways you can generate income with anything you do. There is no room for a negative attitude, you need a lot of drive and a lot of ‘think outside the box’ motivation. It’s also incredibly detrimental to have an entitled attitude, as it’ll stunt your growth completely. Nobody’s gonna throw you a bone for the sake of it. As the great Britney Spears once said, you gotta work bitch.

When you first start out (at least) you’re going to have to be doing a lot to showcase your ability.

The best way to draw inspiration as a freelance is to get out into the world and observe. There is no difference in makeup between yourself and someone who is doing better than you, there is just a difference in approach.

When I’m in London, if I have time to kill and I can be bothered to fight my way down Southbank, I quite like spending time outside the Tate. It brings a lot of inspiration.

If you go there and really observe all the stuff that’s going on and all the innovative ways people are making money, there is really no way that you can have a defeatist ‘I’m so broke and doomed’ attitude.

There is always a busker playing by the river near the bridge, they make a LOT of money considering they’ve just started playing on the off chance that they might get noticed or earn something. I knew a busker in my small hometown who would sometimes make about £200 in a couple of hours down a quiet high street, so I can’t imagine the amount these buskers are making. And that’s just one source of income.

But you don’t need a ‘conventional’ talent like that.

There’s another lady who sets up a table outside the Tate and draws quick little doodles of people. Abstract little squiggly lines that aren’t exactly the best thing ever, but people are looking to buy them because 1) it’s in the moment and it’s a cute keepsake (tourists love a souvenir), 2) It’s a doodle based on the inspiration she draws from the customer (people love being the focal point), 3) It’s a unique little art-piece and it’s cheaper than anything you’ll find in the gift shop inside the actual Tate.

There are other weird and wonderful entertainers doing the strangest things for money. Last time I went there was a gentleman blowing bubbles with one of them big novelty bubble blowing sticks, with a small army of children running around them and playing. He was like the pied piper of 7-year olds, I bet he was absolutely raking it in seeing as he was preoccupying people’s kids in a perfect location for their parents to keep an eye on them. He didn’t ask or expect it, but people were tossing coins in a cardigan he set down because that was just the vibe of the place.

This is tat that people are selling at the end of the day, but people love it, and the freelance loves doing it, so at the end of the day what’s the harm? It’s entertainment, and it’s helping people get by.

Drawing inspiration from observation is definitely the key. Read, watch, soak up all the knowledge.

  • Burnout

It is going to take a long while for you to build up your income and develop a lifestyle which means you don’t burn out often.

Money is survival, work brings money, and money is addictive. When things take off you’re going to be consumed by the idea of work, especially if you enjoy it- but if you become too invested in work and constantly pushing forward you’re bound to burn out.

Then there’s the frustration of your livelihood being on the line and there’s very little you can do about it; it is genuinely a very slippery slope if you don’t handle yourself. You cannot feel helpless for too long as a freelance. You will likely have to learn this the hard way, but just remember, it’s all a part of growing.

My advice would be to start freelancing while you don’t have to be dependent on it. Learn about it while you don’t HAVE to feel the pressure of succeeding, because I guarantee you will feel the pressure anyway- and this is when you can learn to balance it.

I started freelancing while I was in an apprenticeship earning like £800 a month- which was not enough seeing as I was paying bills and trying to save a lot very quickly so that I could move out (rather urgently). I couldn’t quit the apprenticeship for reasons I won’t go into, however I couldn’t just be defeatist- I had to find a way around it.

Although I wasn’t entirely dependent, there was still the drive of ‘the more I earn the sooner I can pay this bill and the more I can save’, ‘If I want to do this nice thing next month I have to earn x amount by this time’. It was very adrenaline pumping, but it really could burn me out. It could even make me very depressed.

It’s trial and error for a lot of people, but I would encourage anyone to consider as many mind altering routines/approaches to work as possible to see what works for you when it comes to preventing burnout. There’s loads of stuff out there. The 10 hour work week, the ‘brain training’ technique which I’ve heard Jim Kwik talk about, etc.

PS – I talk more about this in this blog post

  • Unsteady income

I promise I will discuss the actual favourable parts of freelancing soon, but just as a caution, the income is unsteady.

I may be a year in and doing a lot more now than I did a few months ago, but to this day I’m unsure about whether I’ll earn £500 for freelancing in a month or if I’ll earn £70.

I would suggest getting freelance contracts with a few companies to create at least some stability. Reach out with business proposals. You need to know where to look, and you need to build a portfolio that makes you look like a gift from the heavens to support your own growing source(s) of income.

You want to reach as many people as possible.

  • Multiple streams of income.

There are 4 types of income to be aware of. Passive, affiliate, investment, and earned.

Passive income is what you want the most of, in an ideal world.

This is where you have one product which you create, and you earn money from it over time. For example, you write a book once and profit from the sales for years to come. You make an album and the sales support you for decades. There are websites which you can sell your artwork to and they will send you an invoice each month for the amount of people who used your work. There are loads of ways to generate this.

There is affiliate income, this is where you advertise/promote for money. Influencers usually have affiliate income as their main source of livelihood. This also includes income people make as a business partner.

There’s investment income, which is one of the best sources of income to have in my opinion (also the most sought after). This is the money you make simply from buying into something, eg. Investing in real estate and renting out your property.

Finally, there is earned income. You do a job, you give your time, you make your money.

To begin with, a lot of your income will be earned. As you build yourself up, the goal is to have earned income be a smaller source of income compared to the rest. Or at least that’s the goal for many people.

You need to have patience and drive to be able to climb the ladder.

Literally any type of freelance can generate income in these ways, it just takes a creative mind and a lot of determination.

  • The good things about freelancing;

Nothing worth building is going to be easy. Especially when you first start. You’re going to be challenged and you’re going to be required to think differently and you will need to grow as a person. It may well take a long time; but you’re doing it so that you have freedom, independence, and the ability to be creative and basically do whatever you want. Freelancing has given me a real lust for life (in a weird way) because if I were just doing my 9-5 small little world job, I can guarantee I’d be losing the plot and seeing very little point in being a person. The point of being a freelance is to pursue what it is that you genuinely want to do.

It’s inspired me to try a whole bunch of different things and take all the weird opportunities that come my way, on the off chance that it will help my freelance skills in one way or another. It’s allowed me to not feel helpless when I’m struggling to pay bills.  

I also know that it doesn’t make feasible sense to work on something so hard for so long and not have it grow in some way, shape or form. In one year I’ve managed to build somewhat rapidly just from having a lot of dedication, so imagine where we could be in 5 years. Imagine the freedom you could have in that time. That thought alone makes the challenges and the growing pains that you can sometimes feel worthwhile.

(articles I’ve freelanced lately, if you’re interested)

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