No one tells you that, when you first join the freedom economy and declare yourself an independent contractor, freelancer or solopreneur, there is no magic list of freelancer tools and tips to follow.
It may also come as a surprise that “freelancer” is synonymous with “business owner,” which translates to “the person who is responsible for absolutely everything in your company.”
Freelancing is extremely rewarding, there is no denying that. But it does come with its own challenges, risks and moments of serious struggle. On the other hand, it offers freedom, an escape from the standard 9-5 job and the opportunity for incredible work-life balance.
Here’s my compilation of 10 things no one tells you when you become a freelancer.
1. Freelancing Can Be Lonely at First
When you’ve first broken free from the mainstream, corporate job world, you’re probably dying to get away from some of your coworkers. Hello, peace and quiet!
However, as time goes on, you may begin to feel a bit lonely if you’re working alone from your home on a daily basis.
The good news is that there are numerous ways to combat this, from joining a coworking community and renting office space each month or simply working from your local café occasionally. You can also find comradery among other freelancers with Facebook groups dedicated to digital nomads, certain freelancer tools that offer online communities and local meetup groups.
Finding your tribe as a freelancer is very important, so don’t delay in making the meaningful connections that you’re seeking.
2. Creating Work-Life Balance Can be a Challenge
No one tells you that you’ll probably work longer hours (at least at first) when you initially launch your business.
If you Google “freelancer,” or “solopreneur,” you’ll see glamorous photos of people working online from their couch smiling, from an exotic café in Bali or from a beach chair next to the ocean.
In reality, getting your new business up and running will mean long hours spent at home trying to figure everything out on your own, from launching your website to the best way to communicate with your clients.
Don’t let the excessive work hours deter you and remind yourself why you started freelancing in the first place. Also, give yourself grace when you’re trying to get set up and figure out new freelancer tools.
You showed up to crush it. Chances are, you’re doing an awesome job.
3. Finding the Right Freelancer Tools is a Process of Trial and Error
Before you became a digital nomad, you might not have ever thought about how to create a professional invoice (no, a Word document doesn’t qualify as “professional”). Or how to best track your time spent on specific client tasks, project management tools or business accounting needs.
Welcome to the world of freelance project management, my friend!
Here are a few more freelancer tools you might not have known you need:
- A tool to find clients.
- A system to design and send proposals.
- File storage backup.
- Business email accounts.
- Messaging apps.
4. You’ll Become a Master at Managing Your Time
There’s a good chance you began freelancing for more freedom.
However, no one tells you when you become a business owner that time management is a learned art form! One of the biggest revelations you’ll learn is that you have complete control over your workday.
This can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you manage your time.
Give yourself adequate time to figure this dynamic out because it’s not a simple task.
Once you discover how to get more done in less time, you’ll be unstoppable in your business. Consider implementing specific freelancer tools for better time management:
- Use a time tracker every day.
- Identify your most important tasks for each workday and tackle those first.
- Recognize where you can outsource certain administrative duties so you’re able to focus on the most important work, the core projects you enjoy doing.
5. You Learn What Actually Interests You
This one may surprise you: When you’re the head honcho, it becomes crystal clear the tasks that you genuinely enjoy executing in your business, and those that you procrastinate until the very last moment.
Although it’s tempting to ignore the tasks that you don’t love and just settle for powering through them each month, be sure to take an interest in where you enjoy spending your time as a business owner. Down the road, as your company grows, you’ll be able to outsource the things you don’t like doing as much to other digital nomads.
6. You Can’t Bluff Your Budget for Very Long
As a digital nomad, you’re going to realize how quickly your budget matters to the rest of your business.
Whether you run out of advertising dollars two months too quickly, or your business credit card is beginning to grow at a rapid rate, you’ll be forced to address your budget to fit the reality of your freelance business.
Don’t let the financials scare you! There are some fantastic freelancer tools and platforms that make budgeting very easy, even for new business owners.
7. You Might Begin to Slack on Your Other Hobbies
Chances are, you started freelancing because you are passionate about the field you’re working in. But, as you take on the role of CEO and content creator (and any other tasks your clients want you to do, too), you may realize you are spending more time in your freelancer tools and less time at the gym, crafting with friends or participating in your favorite trivia night.
As you become more seasoned in your freelance gig, you’ll begin to find a work-life balance that works best for you. But when you first start out, just know that it is completely normal to work just a tad too much from time to time.
It is important to maintain some of your hobbies and favorite pastimes outside of work though; you’ll be glad you did when you need a serious break from your first high-maintenance client.
8. Your Friends and Family Might Not Understand Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Although freelancing and the digital nomad lifestyle is growing at a rapid pace (just open up Instagram and dig around a little), it’s still not as common – nor easily understood – as the traditional office gig or “normal” line of work.
Don’t be surprised if your friends and family don’t completely “get” what you do, the office hours you keep, and how you earn your living as a freelancer.
I don’t want you to ditch your friends, but I do encourage you to expand your tribe. By networking with other like-minded professionals, you can develop new, fulfilling relationships with fellow freelancers both online and in person.
9. You May Need to Juggle Another Job in Addition to Freelancing
In a dream world, you could quit your fulltime job and start your business the next day, on your own terms.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually how it goes, especially at first.
There’s a good chance you’ll need to save up a certain amount of money and build a client list before you’re able to say sayonara to your current place of employment. Don’t fret, this will allow you to work on your new business at your own pace and learn the world of freelancer tools bit by bit while having financial stability for a little while longer.
10. You’ll Battle Constant Interruptions (But You’ll Get Great at Handling Them)
Working for yourself as a digital nomad means you’re most likely working from home or a local coffee shop most of the time.
Both scenarios mean you’ll be experiencing major interruptions throughout your day.
At first, that can be difficult to manage when you’re under pressure to deliver deadlines to your clients. As time goes on, you’ll realize interruptions also offer some great positives:
- You’ll be forced to set boundaries for yourself. Taking control of your schedule is never a bad thing. You’ll hear yourself saying no to things you don’t want to do.
- You’ll have to create a schedule that works best for you. If you’re more likely to be interrupted during your afternoons, you’ll figure out quickly that working for your clients in the mornings is a must. Creating a schedule offers structure, so embrace it!
- You’ll become more efficient with your time with the help of freelancer tools. If you know you only have a certain part of your day to crank out your deliverables, you’ll begin utilizing tools to help you get the job done better and faster.
Discover Helpful Tips and Freelancer Tools for Starting Your Freelance Business
With the help of freelancer tools and tips, navigating the freelance world becomes easier. There is so much that no one tells you about starting your own business as a digital nomad, from figuring out income taxes to managing your time more efficiently during the work day and on and on…
Although it can feel challenging at times, becoming an entrepreneur is also incredibly rewarding. By implementing the right tools in your business, finding a community of digital nomads to connect with, asking for help or guidance from other freelancers when you need it, and, most importantly, cutting yourself a break as you learn the ropes, you’ll be able to better navigate the freelance world and find your own way in the freedom economy.