6 things I learned in my 2 months of working as a freelancer from home

The new year had a pretty big change in store for me. At the beginning of January I started working as a freelancer, copywriting and creating articles for clients from all over the world. Two months later I have some really interesting experiences to share with you, some of them good, some of them bad. I hope they will help some of you who are just starting their own freelancing business and for the others: don’t worry, I’ll be back with some more travel related content soon. Let’s go!

Get out of bed! Yes, I know, your bed looks comfy. And yes, I am aware of the fact that nobody really cares if you are wearing pyjamas while working from home. But it’s just not healthy to permanently work in your bed. Get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed and sit down at some sort of table before you open your laptop. You’ll feel better about yourself and you can save your bed for more fun activities.

Don’t feel obliged to answer every single message from clients immediately. I have both the advantage and disadvantage to get to work with people from all over the world. The biggest disadvantage here is the fact that you don’t always work in the same timezone as your employer, which means you will receive super important messages at 2am. This is where the flight mode comes in handy, because let me get this straight: if someone from Australia decides to work with someone from Germany he or she needs to understand that things won’t get done during their office hours. And if they don’t understand that, let them kindly know that you’ll answer e-mails as soon as your work day begins.

Don’t get too excited about landing a new job too early. I can’t even count the times someone has awarded a job to me and then never reached out to me again. At the beginning I though I had done something wrong but then I just realized that many buyers just keep you on your back burner in case they find someone who will do the same job for less money. That can be terribly annoying because you might have declined other offers, thinking you were going to be busy with that particular project. Therefore, my biggest tip here is to work with a security deposit. If I agree to do a project that will earn me 100 Euros, I kindly ask for a deposit of 40 Euros. A seller that seriously wants to do business with you will willingly invest that and that’s when you can get excited about your new job!

It’s okay to have an open discussion with your clients about money. When I landed my first job in January I wasn’t really able to estimate how long it would take me to finish it and found myself with an average hourly rate of 6 Euros. Nobody in Germany can survive on that! When the same client booked me again I had to pluck up enough courage to tell them that I had underestimated the work the first time around and that I needed a bigger budget to do the second job. Believe me, I felt completely sick while waiting for their answer. But guess what! That client totally understood my position and was willing to quadruple my salary. Talking about money is not the kind of thing that we naturally like to do but it is necessary to have an open conversation with your clients about this topic!

Get rid of e-mail and message alerts on your smartphone as soon as possible. It is the most stressful feeling to have a quick look on your phone and see all the messages you have received. Believe me, you will quickly find yourself at a restaurant with your friends, reading and answering work-related messages. Pick certain time frames in which you work on your e-mails and treat yourself to times that are complete work-free. I have to admit I still struggle with this particular issue, but I’m working on it!

Don’t agree to do test work completely for free! Unfortunately I had to learn this the hard way. At the beginning of February a client approached me and asked me to write a 500 word test article in order for him to see if he likes my approach on the topic. I immediately agreed to do so and then never heard back from him. Two weeks after receiving no response from him I discovered his website on which he had published “test work” from about 15 other writers without ever paying a single one of them. Bastard! But hey, making mistakes is fine as long as you learn from them! I am still willing to hand in test work but I always ask for a security deposit of 20 Euros. If I hand in the work and get the job, I will gladly return that money. If my employer tells me that he doesn’t think our approaches match and I can see that he awarded the job to someone else on the platform I am happy to refund him or her (most of the times serious clients actually gladly left me that money!). And if that client happens to be a bastard as well, at least I made a little money.

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