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It’s been a heck of a year.  This was my first year of dedicated freelancing.  I’ve had moments when I feel like I am just killing it creativity-wise and of course, I’ve had some unsavory moments to say the least.

As I go along, I’ve been keeping tabs on some of the important things I’ve been learning.  I came up with the top five things I’ve learned this year as a creative freelancer.

  1.  Quality over Quantity

As a one person operation, it’s difficult to do great work when feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  To ensure I only put my best work out there, I now only take on work that I have time for and that I am 100% interested in.  If I can’t inject the same amount of time and creative energy into an assignment because of other deadlines, then I know I have to pass on a project.  The end result is being able to go I can then go the extra mile for current clients and only showing quality work that I can truly be proud of.

  1.  Practice the social in social media

It’s a given that an online presence is super important in marketing oneself as a freelancer.  Staying connected allows us freelancers to build on existing relationships and cast our web a little wider.  I love meeting new people and making new friends so it’s a natural inclination to want to stay connected after chatting with someone at a party or after working together briefly on a project.  If you already follow someone on one of the social media platforms whom you’d really like to work with (and especially if they follow you back), getting some face time helps a freelancer stay memorable, so scheduling a cup of coffee or meeting up at an event you’re both attending will make all the difference.  You never know what opportunities you may be able share with each other in the future and what it may lead to.

  1.  Consistency is key

If I didn’t carve out a little bit of time each day for certain actions, they’d probably never get done.  But the devil is in the details and all the necessary finances, marketing, and daily administrative duties need to be hashed out, so I force myself to make time on my calendar.  I check email, social media, brainstorm new marketing ideas, and edit only at very specific times each day and do my best to limit my time for each.  This gives some structure to my day and helps me stay on task.  A consistent schedule also ensures I don’t fall into an endless black hole of social media and that things get done even when I don’t really feel like doing them.

  1.  Remember why you started

I had briefly mentioned that I’ve had some unsavory freelancer moments but so far the benefits of freelancing as a photographer has far exceeded any of the worst days I’ve had.  I love being a creative entrepreneur and being at the steering wheel.  Freelancing is definitely not easy and though I consider myself an artist through and through, I’ve had to call on my business experience a majority of the time.  Also freelancing hours are long, sometimes work can be sporadic, and then there’s the disturbingly high failure rate.  Freelancing is definitely not for the risk averse.  When the going gets tough the one thing that never fails to keep me going is remembering exactly why I started.

  1. Value your time

Not to get all philosophical, but time is one of the most valuable things we have.  It is fleeting, so pathetically limited in the grand scheme of things.  When we expend so much energy pouring ourselves into work that we want to be good…and not just good….insanely good… we want the price on our time to feel like it was worth it…worth the time we could have spent on other things or better yet, being with loved ones.  And in my humble opinion, it’s not just about being paid fairly, it’s about committing the most valuable I have as a freelancer which is time.  And this makes all the difference in sustaining a fully functioning business and being able to keep doing what I do.

xo, CM

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