Freelancing Diaries: 5 Lessons I Learnt in my First Year

To commemorate one year since I started out as a fresh and naïve freelancer, I’ve decided to dedicate all my weekly blog posts in June to the topic. Diving into the world of freelancing has genuinely been one of the best decisions and journeys of my life, so I thought a nice way to kick this off would be to reflect on all the lessons I have learnt in my first year!

freelancing setup with laptop and book on bed
  1. You will never feel 100% ready for anything, but you have to do it anyway. Seriously, when I started freelancing and even still now, I feel completely underqualified. There’s always this feeling that everyone else in the game knows better than you. But the secret is, everyone feels that way. Trust your instincts; you know what you are good at and you should own that. You have just as much right to be doing what you’re doing as anyone else does.
  2. Know your worth. In every way, but especially financially. I think this ties in with the last point in a way. Many freelancers, including myself, set their rates far too low to begin with. When I started out, I was charging $10 for articles that took me two hours to write and edit. I was working on Fiverr, which meant I took home $8 for two hours of work. That’s just over £3 per hour. Whatever level you are at, you should be charging so that you’re getting at LEAST minimum wage. Yes, start lower so that when your skills increase, you can increase your rates, but don’t undersell yourself. And don’t let anyone bully you into lowering your rates to a pittance. Stand your ground and know your worth.
  3. Generally, increased rates = better clients. It’s quite well-known in the freelancing world that clients who want to pay you insulting prices often want the absolute MOST. Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of clients I worked with when my rates were lower were absolutely delightful, but there were more bad apples in the ‘budget’ market. Higher rates can attract better clientele who value your work more, there’s no doubt about that. You don’t have to make your rates astronomical, but underselling yourself can invite people to take advantage.
  4. You won’t always get it right. You’re human! You will make mistakes, misinterpret instructions and get things wrong sometimes. This is FINE and any good client will be understanding providing you correct your mistakes and ensure they ultimately end up with a great result.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say no. During your time as a freelancer, there will inevitably be situations where you question whether a particular job is right for you. Do not feel obligated to take on every single job. Sometimes the client wants a heavily discounted rate that isn’t viable for you, or sometimes you may not feel confident that your skills will enable you to provide a quality service. Sure, as I mentioned in the first point, push yourself and take on jobs that are out of your comfort zone, but you are also allowed to say no! Taking on a job that you a) might rush because you’re not getting paid enough or b) can’t complete to the best standard due to a lack of appropriate skills is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. The client may end up disappointed with what they get and you might be left with a bad review or generally feeling deflated if you haven’t met the standards you set for yourself!

It feels surreal that I’ve already been freelancing for a full year, but I’ve enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to see what the future holds! Fellow freelancers, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since you started?

If you’re looking to begin freelancing, I would highly recommend Fiverr as a starting point! The majority of my income still comes from Fiverr and it’s great for beginners; it’s simple and user-friendly, and you really do feel protected as a seller. If you’re interested in signing up to Fiverr either to buy or sell, please feel free to use my referral link (click here). This will give you 20% off your first purchase, and I will be given 20% of your first order amount – so win-win all round! Please feel free to message me if you have any questions, either about Fiverr or freelancing in general (I’m no expert but I can try to help!)

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