I became a full-time freelancer almost by accident. I had been working as a freelance content writer and editor on the side since I graduated college, but the shift from side hustle to full time was unexpected – in a great way! – and so I was caught unprepared.
When I went searching for resources to help me make the adjustment, there wasn’t much online to answer my questions. How do I deal with taxes as a full-time freelancer? How do full-time freelancers manage their workflows? How do I build a brand for myself while also writing for other people?
So, now that I’ve figured out some of this for myself, I figured I’d put together a list of the things I wished I knew so other new freelancers can benefit. As I like to say, now you can make your own mistakes instead of making mine!
Get Ahead of Taxes
I already had an inkling of how taxes should work since I started a small Etsy shop during quarantine, so I knew QuickBooks Self-Employed was the way to go there. When I realized I was going to shift to freelancing full-time, I made another account to manage my quarterly taxes so I could stay ahead of things when tax season rolls around. I can’t recommend QuickBooks Self-Employed enough; their interface is great, it’s super-easy to invoice clients through the platform, and I can also manage expenses and tax write-offs.
I already had a website to host my writing samples and an online copy of my resume for full-time job applications, but when I started scaling up my own venture, I really started to streamline things. I added a business email to my web domain, invested in photography to add my face to the website, and took the time to revamp my web presence so people looking to hire me know what I’m about.
Establish Task Management Protocols EARLY
I cannot stress how much Notion has helped me manage my workflow, and cannot recommend this platform enough. I was able to build customizable spreads to track to-dos, content for each client, invoicing for those not on retainer, and more - all from one desktop app that syncs to my phone perfectly! I know I sound like an ad – I’m not, promise! – but Notion really did change my life, and I think everyone should know about it!
Set Solid Boundaries
It can be super easy to maintain that feast-or-famine mindset that follows most freelancers, but it’s really important to know your limits so you don’t take on too much work, disappoint clients and frustrate anyone you work with. Take it from someone who knows - I overextended myself early on and ended up pulling two 18-hour days to catch up. Don’t recommend.
I heard a Tik Tok audio recently that said something like, “I hated working a 9-5, so now I work for myself and I work 24/7.” I laughed, but it’s also pretty darn true. Were I left to my own devices, I’d never stop working on my clients’ content and my own, which is a solid recipe for burnout. Make sure you disconnect from your work and your laptop every so often, and hold those weekends sacred. Your mental health will thank you.