Seven Things I Wish I’d Been Told About Freelancing

Illustration by Jasmine Thompson

Jasmine Thompson gives a useful insight into the world of freelancing when you’re a young creative.

Selling my work was something that appealed to me from an early age…

When I was 11, I drew a portrait of the Jackson 5; and it took me a long time. Hours after school were spent slaving away at my desk desperately trying to capture the immense detail in the sequin waistcoats and the tight kinks and coils of the afro hair. As well as being rewarded ten pounds for my mini masterpiece from a classmate, I was also rewarded with a strong sense of feeling triumphant and fulfilled. Selling my work was something that appealed to me from an early age, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know. Selling my work was also something I thought I was great at, but I just wish someone had told me I was worth much more than ten pounds.

I carried my sketchbook and pencil case wherever I went, and I was lucky enough to come from a family where this creativity and freedom of expression has always been encouraged. My parents signed me up to weekend art workshops and always ensured I was finding new ways to express myself through whatever I did.

Creative people have some of the most dynamic minds and ideas…

Regardless of whether you are a filmmaker, writer or musician, the passion to be creative embodies itself within you and becomes a huge part of your character. Being creative is often associated with childhood years, and is regularly seen as something you’ll eventually ‘grow out of’. Hearing that you won’t make a living becomes a regularity.

When you finally make that decision to turn your passion into your profession, well, that’s a pretty big thing. Suddenly you find yourself plunged into the real world… swimming in all kinds of alien things to you such as deadlines, invoicing, and time management. But once you learn to float, working in a creative industry is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling paths you can take.

It can be scary at first, so I’m going to throw in your direction a few things about freelancing that I wish someone told me about years ago (before I learnt to float).

Illustration by Jasmine Thompson

1. Networking Is Your Holy Grail.

And more important than you can even imagine. When you’re working as a freelancer, even when you have projects on, you must always be thinking about securing that next job. In these kinds of industries, it’s often all about who you know, and making those vital connections is so important. Make yourself a Linked:in, hit up that next networking event. You don’t know who you’re likely to meet and commission your next brief.

2. People Will Ask You To Work For Free ALL THE TIME.

And you don’t necessarily need to be doing this. It’s a common notion that when you’re a newbie, it’s just natural to be working for free and exposure will get you everything you want in life. But you need to know your worth, especially from a young age. If you begin doing work for free you will quickly build a reputation for doing so, and in future will struggle to get work at a higher rate. Exposure will not pay the bills. Paid work is out there and you will earn more respect as an artist and young professional if you don’t sell yourself short.

3. You Are Going To Need To Work In Your Own Time.

Illustration by Jasmine Thompson

Yes, that’s right. Weekends, late nights, irregular hours. Coffee is going to be your best friend; sleep… what’s that? Part of the deal with freelance work is that the work is done on your own time, and you construct your own schedule. Just get the job done by the deadline, and this by any means possible.

4. You Will Need To Work Out Of Your Comfort Zone.

But this helps you develop skills and you may be surprised with where you end up. The worst thing you can do as a creative is remain limited and restrict yourself to only a few ways of working. In order to grow creatively you must take on new and challenging things, not only will you learn an array of new techniques, but it will keep you on your toes and ensure work remains fresh and stimulating.

5. It Will Teach You Talents Beyond Your Skillset

Not only will you expand creatively but your time management, deadlines, and networking skills will flourish also. You’ll be loaded with transferrable skills that stay with you in all future endeavours. You’ll find yourself dabbling in areas that are a little bit foreign to you but it’s all part of the journey, and you will have a strong set of skills to show for yourself at the end.

Illustration by Jasmine Thompson

6. You Are Going To Learn So Much About Yourself And Your Capabilities.

A lot of the time, you’re going to be doing everything yourself. Doing the work is the easy part. It’s all about securing the next job, marketing yourself, self-promotion on platforms such as social media, doing accounts etc. All things you’ll master. It’s about prioritising things and not getting too stressed out about it all. Have a plan and stick to it the best you can.

7. It’s One Of The Most Rewarding And Fulfilling Things You Can Do.

Working as a freelance and taking on your own briefs, you soon realise your ability to manage your own career and take control of your direction. It’s important to make time for yourself too, find time for your hobbies and interests too, but the work that goes into yourself and your career will inevitably leave you feeling like top dog.

Doing creative work is massively rewarding and enjoyable, but is also quite difficult. But remember that these skills you’re building by doing this make you a vital contribution to society, and are transferrable in all aspects of work and day-to-day life. Not everything you hear about being young and working in a creative industry is true- your goals are all achievable and you deserve to reach them.

Do you have any helpful tips for young freelancers? How do you guys deal with an impending deadline? Get in touch with us on Twitter

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