Hello my little cats! Phew. That’s it, my 2 nd quarter as a freelancer is coming to an end. Do you believe how fast time passes? Because I can’t. Already 6 months that I started in the autoentreprenariat. 6 MONTHS! But here it is, it IS late November and it is time to make an assessment of my second quarter as a freelancer. I started all this in June, and made my previous assessment for June-July-August just here (so do not hesitate to read it if you wanna know more from the beginning). The objectives of this article, like the previous one, will be to: 1) make a personal assessment of my activities over the past 3 months (September – October – November) by identifying my strengths, my weak points, and looking at whether the objectives that I had set for this quarter have been met; and 2) to put all this on a more general level (you, freelancers, future freelancers, people with projects or just people interested in the subject) to try to give you my best advice. So, how did it go this quarter ?
Freelance life : how was quarter 2 ?
It’s funny because while reading my previous article, just now, I was filled by mixed feelings and emotions. A mixture of “this quarter has gone so fast”, but at the same time re-reading my own words, it seems so distant too. A mixture of “I am reassured to read my past fears versus where I am at this moment”, but also of “I do not know what tomorrow will be made of”. It’s funny. This is typical of the freelancer that begins (or not only, actually): a permanent balance between satisfaction and fear in the stomach, the feeling of being “THE KING” sometimes and the feeling of knowing nothing at other times. Up and down. But one thing is certain: it’s so exciting !
But yes, reading my previous article, I have a mixture of emotions and feelings. Since then, there has been quite some change!
I propose as the last time to proceed in stages: 1) my successes; 2) what I could have done better; 3) have my goals set in the previous quarter been met? ; 4) my goals for the next quarter and 5) my best and humble tips to share with you all.
Let’s go !
1. My successes
This quarter, I strenghtened my relationships with my existing clients. Or rather one existing client (because I stopped the second project I had for reasons of profitability, quite simply). This project, which was totally new and still unstable in the previous quarter, has become a stable project in which I feel confident and in control of the situation. My client is happy, trusts me and I am finally at ease. I was really able to gain self-confidence this quarter and I realized that if I work hard, I have no reason to doubt about my skills: the results are there. I am therefore much more able today to listen to my intuitions and to go beyond the simple execution of my missions. I am more and more comfortable proposing things that drive change. Naturally, I see myself as being more proactive, a force of proposal, which not only moves projects forward faster, but also spices up my professional life even more. Because that’s what I’m passionate about: innovation and challenge! Sometimes it works, and I assure you that’s where you feel like “THE KING” (or rather “THE QUEEN” in my case 🙂), sometimes it’s a flop! There, you feel like shit. But you learn to relativize by believing (wisely) that no innovation is born without 1000 failures. That you did well to try. And you will use this flop to refine your next idea.
This quarter, I managed to find two new clients who made my freelance business perfectly full and balanced. Not since early September, no, but as I speak to you, this is the case. Today, I am working on three projects that are just as exciting as each other, while keeping a little time for my blog and the social networks around it. And if all this lasts in time, then I did find my balance. Balance both on the diversity of the projects, on the time spent each week, but also financial. It’s crazy to write it black on white, because I almost can’t believe it. When I started, I was scared. Scared of not finding enough customers to make a good living. Scared of having to accept unsuitable missions because of the need for money. Scared of working with customers who are not respectful, or bad payers. Scared of not having any time at all for my blog with all that. Even worse, scared that I would fail, quite simply. And that after a few months of testing, I would have to face the facts: freelancing is not for me. But no, at the end of quarter 2 I found my perfect balance. The fact of writing it black on white, like that, it makes me almost afraid that suddenly everything stops. That it brings me bad luck. I touch wood, hihi (I really touched wood and it’s a compulsive thing that I have, every time I say something positive, I touch wood to prevent it from bringing me bad luck .. It’s stupid, eh? It’s psychological but it reassures me! It’s a french thing. I think? Or does anyone ever hear about “touching wood” too?)
This quarter, I found a bit more my pace, and I have a little more understanding about which environment I am most productive in. I did a lot of tests, both in terms of organizing my days, and in terms of the work context. I tried doing multitasking (working on all projects at the same time) versus booking slots in my calendar in advance to organize my week. I tried hyper concentrated days without breaks or almost versus days punctuated by breaks and even an outdoor activity to change my mind. I tried working in a co-working space in the city versus working from home. And I found my rhythm a bit more, I have a little more understanding about which environment I am most productive in. The results of these tests?
1) I need to have defined slots in my agenda in advance, and stick to them. Having all my tabs and mailboxes open at the same time panics me and paralyzes me rather than making me effective. I plan an agenda in advance, for example, a morning on Monday for client 1, afternoon client 2, etc. Every morning and evening I open each mailbox anyway to check that there is no emergency (if it is the case then I adapt my planning! But only in this case.).
2) I need to take regular breaks to avoid overheating. A non-digital break mid-morning and one mid-afternoon (tea, coffee, cuddling with my cat, calling my mom, a friend, etc. as long as it takes me away from any screen), a real lunch break (and I insist on the real because I tended to have lunch with my cell phone in ny hands so not really a break) in front of a good series, outside, or with someone; and finally an activity in the day. I realized that it’s super important to walk every day and do something that airs the mind: jogging, running, picking up parcels, going to the gym, going to fika with a friend. Anything that frees your mind. As I work from home, it is easy not to go out for a few days in a row. Bad idea: I find myself doing only work and it’s not healthy!
And finally 3) I prefer working from home. So here it’s very personal ! I am often asked, “Oh my, but how do you do not do anything else? How do get up in the morning? How can you not feel alone?” I would say, it really depends on people. Quite simply. Some people would never be able to work from home because they would be bored to death and not productive. Personnaly, I’m good. I am very productive at home, more than in a co-working space where sometimes the noise of people who talk for example disturbs me. At home, I can use the time I save by not comuting to work, to get more things done. At home, I have all my equipment. At home, I work really at my own pace. Once again, it’s personal. I tried both, and the truth is there: I prefer to work from home. Maybe it comes from the fact that for years I was forced to spend 2 to 3 hours a day in public transports and that I just can not take more. Maybe it will change over time and in 1 year I would need more social interactions everyday. But for the moment, it suits me! I have a perfectly arranged space to work at home that I leave in the evening when I finish. And at the social level, I feel balanced because of the various networking events that I attend and my weekly meetings with my teams are enough for me.
And here are my successes for this quarter! I told you, things happened! Let’s move on to the next part.
2. What I could have done better
This quarter, I could have been more prepared to negotiate my rates and to respect my hourly cost. Being a freelance is really also being a commercial. And that, I had not necessarily seen coming. When you tell you price, very often it will be negotiated by your client. At first, I took it badly (“OMG what a dick, this customer X!”), But no. I understood now that it is the world of business. It’s like at a flea market, if you’re told 5 euros, you WILL negotiate for 4. It’s the same. In the business world there are sellers, who push the price up. And there are buyers, who pull the price down. It’s natural, and it’s the game I understood, at least in most cases (yes there are customers who say yes right away, because the price seems justified to them, quite simply! O God, it’s nice when it happens! I’m like that myself, tring to offer a real, non-strategic price, that you don’t have to negotiate, but you can not ask the whole world to do without “this little bit of spice in the business”). So my concern is that so far the rate that I offer is really my “real” price, the one that is necessary to eat and pay the rent at the end of the month. And I found myself in delicate positions when I got this price negociated : not profitable if I accept, not the courage to say no either. So, this quarter, I could have been more prepared, simply. Allow a small margin of flexibility on my prices, while remaining correct, OR, be more confident and harder on negociations.
This quarter, I could have learned to be really OFF on vacation. I’ve had a few holidays since September: a weekend in Stockholm, a short week with my parents in Sweden, and soon, I’ll have 8 days at Christmas. Well, during these “holidays”, I still worked. In the early morning, in the late evening, or during some spare times of the day, I kept working on my projects. That’s good, because the projects are new so it’s not the moment to interrupt them either. That’s good also because I did not lose any money. But in the future, I will have to learn to take real vacation. To say to my customers: “I will be OFF from such to such date and I will resume the project when I return if that’s ok with you”. To accept the fact I’m not making any money during these periods. And as a consequence to foresee, so that my wages each month cover these periods not working. After all, like an employee does, I should take my five weeks off a year. For real. So that’s something I have to work on in 2018. Frankly, no one would blame anyone for taking a vacation. No project dies because there is a break at Christmas, or in summer. Real breaks without work are healthy. And they help for being more productive.
3. Have I met my ojectives ?
Here are the objectives I had set in my last article and I will give them a % achievement at for now, the end of quarter 2. This will “dose” rather than say YES or NO, which is not always easy. Here they are :
- Stress less in front of new challenges
- Get more organised and block one time slot = one task in my agenda for more productivity
- Take more breaks and not work more than 8-10 hours a day (even being passionate, personnal time and resting are super important !)
- Have a average wage equivalent to my month of August over the months of September – October – November (which will not allow me to live exclusively on my salary but at least to touch very little to my savings what would already be a beautiful beautiful victory!)
- Find a 3rd regular client at the consulting level
- Have an average of 3 sponsored blog contracts per month, on single operations
Stress less in front of new challenges (80%) : I stress much less than before or at least I really try. Because I realized that it was useless and that it was very rarely worth it. I try to take things with serenity, more positively. I try to trust myself. And I’m doing a lot better than before for that.
Get more organised and block one time slot = one task in my agenda for more productivity (100%). As I told you, I found my rhythm and my organization. At least for now!
Take more breaks and not work more than 8-10 hours a day (even being passionate, personnal time and resting are super important !) (60%). I made a lot of effort. But I’m not perfect yet. I still check my emails sometimes in the evening, in the weekends, in the middle of a movie. As I told you, I do not take real holidays. So that could be improved. But though, I do more breaks. And that’s good!
Have a average wage equivalent to my month of August over the months of September – October – November (70%). Haha, money : the sensitive subject. I managed 70% because simply my month of September was catastrophic (hihi … oops). So it makes the average fall! Being on vacation for 3 weeks in August, I have not invoiced enough and September has paid off. But it is the game. On the other hand, the present and the future are positive (I touch wood: D): with my current situation, I am in financial balance since this month of November (I even took off my true first salary! Champagne!). If everything continues, I should be able to live from my business in the future and not using my savings any more from now on. And that’s great (I’m touching wood, Haha, yes, I have an OCD!).
Find a 3rd regular client at the consulting level(100%): done since November :)! Hope it lasts !
Have an average of 3 sponsored blog contracts per month (80%) : overall, it’s basically this. The month of September also brought down the average. Then, it’s a very very random goal, because sometimes I get proposals for sponsored posts but that do not really interest me. The goal with the blog is not to make a quota at all costs, but to talk about things I like. So even if I do not have my “quota” of sponsored posts, I do not care. The main thing for me is to always do that with passion and staying in tune with my values. So, I realize that this goal did not make much sense. I’m just as happy to do less, but better, by offering you the most original content possible and while taking care to be part of campaigns that truely inspire me. I also continue to produce a lot of unsponsored content, just in the continuity of my editorial line and to share my good plans and good things with you everyday.
And that’s it, so if we do the average I met my goals at 82%. I am satisfied (Yeahhh)!
4. My goals for quarter 3
So if we take the things I did the least good this quarter + objectives not fully filled last quarter, it gives us:
- Being more prepared for the business world, negotiating rates and / or being harder on negotiation. Being a bit commercial is part of my job, and I have to get used to it. I must be ready to these talks to prevent the negotiations from harming me, while remaining fair to my clients.
- Learn to be OFF for real. Take real weekends, real holidays, up to 5 weeks / year like an employee would do. To not keep “2 hours to work early in the morning” even during holidays. This change is healthy, normal and necessary.
To which I will add :
- Keeping my projects. As I told you, I work on exciting projects. It’s up to me to do everything to be effective and useful for the company at the source of each project, so that they last in time.
VOILA! We’ll see what it’s like at the end of February 🙂 Wish me luck!
5. My advice for you
I do not dare say it (I touch wood .. HAAAAA such an OCD OK I stop!) … but I think this quarter has been really positive overall! I can not believe it, but apparently it works! I was right to take this decision to become a freelancer, because my little company runs right! So much happiness! So, really, me who was so scared when I started, if I have one advice to give you it is:
If the flame of entrepreneurship burns in you, and you have not done it yet, get started! Really ! It is a magnificent project, which certainly does not suit all personalities. But if you read this article, it is because perhaps, either you are already started a company (in which case you don’t need this advice) either deep inside you, you have the desire to do so. An idea, a project, a desire for change. Well my dear friends, go for it! Give everything you have in you, and try. It’s a beautiful adventure! If I made it, you can too! For those of you who read me without wanting to start your own business, that’s good too. Again this is a special way of life and everyone does not like it, which I totally understand. I hope that this article will have entertained you and will have shown you a little what this life looks like. Because really, I love to discuss the subject.
Believe in yourself and in your qualifications. “The Impostor Syndrome” … researching my feelings on the web here is what I found. A typical freelance syndrome. The impresion of being an “impostor”, not in its place, who does not know enough or who is too expensive. FALSE! If you star something, it’s because you DO know things ! Otherwise you would not be where you are: for example, having left everything about to get started or wanting to do it; or just signing your first project in a thematic X. In the first case if you left everything or want to do it, it is because you thought about it a long time and that you have your reasons. In the second case, if your client has chosen you it’s because you ARE qualified. Always try to respect yourself and trust yourself. You have value. You can not know everything of course not, but you are in the right place. You are adaptable and resourceful, and you can cope with any new situation. That’s it, your entrepreneurial spirit!
So… I think I’ve already said a lot and I’ll stop there. I do not want to drown you in too many words. So I hope that this second opened and transparent article on my 2nd trimester as a freelancer will have pleased, enlightened, inspired, motivated, reassured you… or I do not know what else. I hope you enjoyed reading it and that you feel that you have used your last 5-10 minutes wisely, simply :).
Do not hesitate to tell me about your reactions or questions, or to tell me about YOUR experience, YOUR wishes in comments. The purpose of all this is to interact, so please, go crazy ! Hehehe. I wish you a beautiful evening and weekend. Let’s meet again at the end of February for the assessment of quarter 3. And it will come faster than we think!
XOXO. AND KEEP SHINING! YOU ROCK !
*And you, what is your experience as a freelancer ? Or your wishes ? *
* Or just a little reaction maybe ? 🙂 *