Very recently, I became a full-time freelancer and never believed this would ever happen! 2016 has been off to a great start after a rough 2015, and for that, I’m so thankful. This is going to be a rather lengthy post compared to my usual ones, so if you make it all the way to the end, I love you. <3
Working a mundane day job with a strict 8-5 schedule was never me, despite how much my parents pestered (and continue to) me to get a “real” job with benefits, vacation, etc. Well let me tell ya, freelance work is a “real” job — in fact, if you want a real job, freelancing is as real as it gets, because you’re not constantly just handed work someone else doesn’t want to do (well, maybe for starters, but you still have much more freedom); you’re actually creating work for yourself, building a consistent client base to generate income, and on top of all that, juggling side projects to make yourself a more marketable freelancer!
Personally, I’ve never thrived in the conventional office life. I can’t find myself sitting still in front of a computer doing boring work for 8 hours straight, with the requirement of dressing business casual, taking a lunch break before 1 PM and making sure to not text too much in front of my boss. There are just so many dumb, silly rules that come with working in an office setting — I feel some of these boundaries and restrictions set on employees aren’t fair because people work well differently. I work way more efficiently if I’m able to feel relaxed and work at my own pace, in my own place. I feel a lot more motivated when I don’t feel confined in a depressing office space with no windows. After college, I moved to LA not really knowing what to do with my life, quite honestly. I dabbled in modeling for a little bit after being offered an agency contract, and had some pretty fun times; I thought maybe I’d somehow make this work, because I loved the flexibility and the big bucks that came when I booked large campaigns. The problem with modeling was that 1) work wasn’t consistent, as much as I wanted it to be… and 2) there were restrictions as well: the agency takes a 20% cut, you can’t post certain things on social media before a certain time, you have to be certain measurements, you have to display a certain demeanor… the list is endless! From modeling, I did learn that I have a strong passion for fashion and beauty though… Not to the extent where I want to design clothes or do people’s make-up, but more like, a career in this industry. Is that too much to ask for? Or is that literally every girl in LA’s dream?
In September of 2014, my brother encouraged and helped me make this blog! I started Style Lullaby for fun to share my favourite trends and bits of my personal life and modeling projects. It quickly grew to a blog that now covers expansive topics ranging from beauty to home/decor and travel, to name a few. I started blogging consistently, despite the fact that the only people following my blog were/are my family (maybe) and close friends. The fact was, I enjoy(ed) doing this and want(ed) to do it for myself. At the time, I still had a day job (though part-time, thank goodness) that I absolutely hated. I was not passionate about any of the work I was doing, and it literally felt like I was there to make money and barely pay the bills, because I spent so much time in traffic and money on gas! That’s when it really hit me — I have to make SOMETHING work for me that will allow me to freelance so I can have a little more freedom and control in how I work, and reduce/eliminate the amount of time I spend in LA traffic, unpaid, getting to and from work.
Little did I know that my blog essentially became a writing portfolio for me to showcase as part of my resume. I applied for a few freelance work-from-home writing jobs expecting nothing, but got something! I was surprised at how a personal style blog turned into something more, since I went into it expecting nothing. Writing has been one of my passions and strengths, and my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from UCSD finally has something to do with what may potentially turn into my career. Things are starting to piece together for me after two years of what I might consider a personal life crisis, heh. I say potentially, because I haven’t done this long enough to call it my career, but the past month has been an accomplishment to me even if my family might think it’s an insignificant one, simply because I am so much happier doing what I love at my own schedule… and best of all, making decent money.
Right now, I’m at the stage where I’m doing all sorts of writing projects about random things, not necessarily fashion/beauty related. Even though I’m not where I want to be yet, it’s all about the progress and making milestones, even if they’re little ones. My ultimate goal, of course, is to be able to pick and choose my own assignments, work on my own schedule, charge my own rates, etc. This month, I’ve learned that I absolutely love copywriting, especially for social media and e-mail campaigns for fashion & beauty! I hope to be able to do this full-time on a freelance basis, and continue to find it fulfilling for the rest of my life.
Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!
This is definitely a saying I’ve always believed in.
Now that I’ve shared a bit of my freelance experience and how I got where I am, here’s some insight that might be useful to anyone out there who might be thinking about going freelance…
- Be ready to hustle. That’s the trade-off — I told you, freelance work is REAL work! People don’t hand things to you; you have to literally hunt for jobs and clients, or even create work for yourself! The good news is, once you have a consistent stream going, you’re pretty set — from there, you make your own schedule to finish tasks, you pick where you want to work, etc. But, never get too comfortable, because clients do come and go and unfortunately, you have to be ready to hunt again everyday. Or work for yourself.
- Have a savings. If you ask me, I feel that an 8-5 job and a freelance job are both equally unstable. With an 8-5, you can be let go any day just like with a freelance job, you can have days of no work, for example. This is why it’s important to save up money and even have an “emergency fund,” instead of spending everything you earn. This way, you don’t have to panic when work is slow or unexpected expenses come up. Instead, you can focus your energy on building, marketing, and maybe even picking up side jobs that could develop into something more.
- Be versatile. There’s nothing more attractive about a freelancer than someone who is versatile. By this, I mean someone who has multiple skill-sets. For example, since I love fashion, it’s a bonus that I have background in photography, even though I don’t really do it. But the fact is, people like to see that you’re well-rounded and can pick things up quickly if needed. As a copywriter, I’m mostly responsible for creating original written content, but it’s nice to have some other skills like WordPress familiarity, social media, etc. The less the employer has to train you, the more likely they are to want to hire you to work for them… from home!
- Never lose hope. Part of why I think 2015 was a mess for me was because I didn’t believe in myself. There were more bad days than good, and it was hard to stay positive. After coming back from the road trip, 2016 was off to a rough start as well, but quickly turned around with positive thinking. It is true that your vibe attracts your tribe… so good vibes only! 😉 Just remember that even at your lowest, things always work out for the better in the end, and that everything happens for a reason!
- Network. It’s not all about what you know, it’s also who you know… and a lot more often than you’d think. I literally got a job handed to me simply because I knew someone who put in a good word for me and practically got me the job… this probably should motivate me to go out and network more though, heh. Struggles of an introvert…
- Be(lieve) in yourself. A weakness of mine is caring too much about what other people think, especially my own family. I think it’s pretty natural to want the acceptance and approval of parents and other family members, but it’s important to believe in yourself and your capabilities, especially if you know what you want. When you let others sway you into thinking or feeling otherwise, that’s when things start to fall apart.
- There are trade-offs. Like no benefits. And no vacation. But who needs a vacation if they’re on a flexible schedule and doing what they LOVE?!
- Make your freelance job/career your livelihood, and not your life. It’s easy to find yourself working on weekends or time that should really be “me time” when you do what you love. The boundaries become harder to divide between work and personal life. However, it’s still crucial to disconnect every so often… for your own sanity and health! Take some time to do other things that you love, or work on some personal projects that fulfill you.
Any freelancers out there? What are some of your tips for success?