Early last week I hit a milestone in my full-time freelance career: 100 days of 100% self-employment.
I was a bit surprised. I didn’t think it’d been quite that long. I decided to step back and take a look at what I’ve done and how well I’ve been sticking to my goals.
I thought I’d share what I discovered here to 1) keep myself accountable and 2) give other freelancers, those who are currently full-time and those contemplating the plunge, an idea of what this looks like for someone else.
My “plan” for the first 100 days
I didn’t really have one. I did plan to immediately jaunt off on some well deserved vacations to transition from the security of a day job + freelance to full-time self-employment.
I intended to not take on any new clients in the first month and a half. I wanted to spend time meeting up with interesting people I’d been wanting to talk to or collaborate with for a long time but hadn’t been able to make time for while the day job was full tilt.
I would work out of a home office I’d been putting together over the last two years (a printer here, a four drawer filing cabinet there). It’s a dedicated room in the house off the laundry room; well away from anything interesting or distracting.
Exercise would be the activity I’d order my days around. I always feel best when exercising regularly and figured I owed it to myself to make my physical and emotional well being a priority.
My actual first 100 days in office
I spent 25 of my first 100 days “on vacation.” It turns out that I am good/not good at being on vacation while working for myself. I can work remotely but it’s difficult if I have client work. If there is client work, I worry about not being available for my clients. Work while away is best if it’s “for me”: writing or planning my next big thing.
I’ve met with a lot of great new people as planned and I’m working on two new big projects as a result. One I wouldn’t have thought of doing and another that is the first step in fulfilling a goal I’ve had for a long time. I cannot stress enough how important expanding my community has been during these first 100 days.
I took on 4 new clients in that first month and a half despite my plan to not accept any, and I signed on 13 new clients total in my first 100 days. For comparison: I signed on 17 new clients during all of 2013. I’m to the point where I can’t accept all the work coming my way, though I’m still a ways from finding the right balance between client work and teaching and writing work.
One of the reasons I wanted to go full time was to make time for teaching and writing, work that requires a significant investment up front with no promise of reward on the back end. I knew this intellectually, even intimately, but have had to struggle with the realization emotionally. When I spend a full day writing or planning my new online course, I can tend to think of the day as a “fun” day because I was doing work that is immediately only beneficial for myself. I then beat up on myself for not “working hard enough.” This is a bad habit and one I’m working on breaking.
I’m a girl that thrives on a schedule. As great as having the freedom to spend my days exactly as I please sounds, I get more done and feel better about my work if I have a schedule. As a result, I’m getting an office downtown. It’s a place separate from the house (turns out laundry is, in fact, distracting) that’s within walking distance of the gym, my wife’s studio and where I do the bulk of my volunteer work. It will provide the infrastructure for making a schedule more workable for me.
My next 100 days
I’ll be releasing my online course on how to get paid in September/early October. I’m excited about this project! If you’re interested in being a beta tester for the class, sign up for the class mailing list; folks on the list will get first dibs to test and purchase the class.
I want to establish a Monday-Friday schedule that leaves less open to improvisation. I’ve started by making Monday administrative days and Fridays writing days and try to schedule all my meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’ll see how that works.
I want to get back to posting here every week. I like writing the blog and I want to make sure I’m making time for it.
I want to have a party. I want to celebrate this working for myself thing because it’s great! I would take all the stress and uncertainty of working for myself over the safety and security of a day job any day.
If you’ve gone full time freelance recently, what have you learned? If you’re a veteran, what advice do you have for me as I embark upon my next 100 days?
Categories: The Rest