I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about what it takes to be a successful freelancer. This sort of coincides with the new year but that is more coincidental than intentional. The following are some ideas about how to achieve more as a freelancer which may, from a distance, bear a resemblance to new year’s resolutions.
Continue Your Professional Development
I worked for 3 major international business prior to becoming a freelancer. All 3 of those companies invested a large amount of money in ongoing professional development. I had courses covering a wide range of topics from effective communication to project management to being a good leader. Some of these courses were great, some were good and some felt like a waste of time. However, most courses taught me something that I could use in my life.
Since becoming a freelancer I have not done a single minute of training. All of my time has been focussed on earning money, finding new clients or having fun. Those are all very important but it has been clear to me recently that I need to continue developing my skills. Clients’ needs change and I need to be able to meet them if I want to continue earning money, finding new clients and having fun.
Professional development doesn’t have to be expensive or arduous. The internet is literally overflowing with free courses to learn web development, graphic design, ancient Sumerian agricultural practices… you name it. I have invested time recently in studying HTML & CSS, something that my clients need. I did this using the Odin Project, a free resource to learn all aspects of web development. I am also going to become an Infusionsoft Certified Partner. Infusionsoft is something I have been getting more involved in over the past year and want to do more of. The certification is not cheap but it is something I enjoy and should enable me to get more business at higher rates of pay in 2016.
Invest in Yourself
Long before becoming a freelancer I have been a frugal man. I hate spending money frivolously. I even hate spending money non-frivolously. Show me something that I want to have, is a good investment and useful for work and I will hem and haw about spending the money for months. If there is a cheaper option then I will almost always choose that.
Another thought I have had recently is that my frugal nature has been counterproductive to my work. I needed a new computer last year and I set myself a low budget. I found a laptop that was good, not great and bought it. Since then it has consistently disappointed me; boot time is painful, there are frequent lags and it just isn’t really what I need.
Part of being a freelancer is knowing what you need to do a good job. If you worked in an office that consistently bought sub standard computers and equipment you would complain that the company was hampering your ability to do a good job. Being a freelancer is no different except that you are the one in control of the budget! If you scrimp on your equipment then you are harming no-one but yourself.
I recently bit the bullet and bought myself a new MacBook Pro. It has been like a breath of fresh air. It boots up in under 30 seconds, it never hangs on a screen and I can have as many applications open as I want. I often comment that one of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can work anywhere I have my laptop and an internet connection. Therefore the most important piece of equipment for me is my laptop and I should invest in a good one. I’m not advising you to spend money you don’t have but make sure you give yourself the best chance to do the work you want to do.
A few thoughts for the new year. As I mentioned, these aren’t new year’s resolutions exactly but more like lifetime resolutions. What lifetime resolutions have you made? Let me know here.