The Collective Reflection of 2018 - part I

A Collective blog by Lily Heaton, Linda Roos and Marina de Haan

Linda and Lily are two Amsterdam based freelancers who met through CWC and often collaborate together. Marina also writes for CWC, and is the founder of ZoeteLiefde. Together, they took a look back at 2018 and compiled thoughts, learnings, and tips from their experiences to share with you.

 

#1 EMBRACE CONNECTIONS

Set aside time for networking and consider this a part of your business development. It takes some effort and organization but the payoff is ten-fold. Whatever your industry, there are others with more and less experience than yourself. Linda says, “When you connect with someone and create a good impression, they may recommend you for another project. I’ve landed some big, new clients this way.” Make an effort beyond simply handing out your business card and use this opportunity to open up new possibilities. Marina shares, “What works best for me is not to see it as networking but chatting about similar interests.” Whether you’re a social butterfly or a little bit shy, try to spark a conversation and remember to share pride about the work you’ve created (#humblebrag). Don’t forget to follow up and keep in touch afterwards.

 

#2 MONEY MANAGEMENT

Perhaps you’ve landed a few big invoices? Congrats!  Keep in mind that freelance work is not steady and it’s easy to go from ballin’ to broke so, stay on top of your finances.

First, save for rainy days because freelance work falls into a cycle of feast or famine. We recommend saving enough to cover at least one quarter (3 months) of bills. “Think of it as financial security,” says Lily,“because invoices don’t always clear on time.” Second, create a separate savings account. Keep in mind that VAT does not count as your earnings, better keep it somewhere safe. Plus, you’ll have an organized overview of your actual revenue and expenses. Linda reminds us that, “Money is important but don’t fixate on it too much or you’ll get stressed. Focus on having a money mindset, trust the process andbelieve it will come your way.” Third, aside from an accountant, keep track of your business expenses with apps like Cam Scanner to easily organize your receipts.

 

#3 MIX IT UP

To continuously learn and grow while prioritizing your hustle, invest creative energy into different projects throughout the year. Lily says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Ensure that you have enough work to develop your business and devote some time into passion projects that express and fulfillyour own creative spirit.”

Avoid a burn out and don’t be taken advantage of by confusing the term freelance with a full-time, zero hours, contract. Be realistic, if an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is!Ideally, one client shouldn’t take up more than 70% of your time, you can find more via the Belastingdienst. Lily explains, “True freelancing is a kind of like performing in the circus. You’ve got to balance multiple clients, projects, and deadlines on top of managing your own business affairs and do it all of it with a smile of your face!”

 

#4 SELF-CARE

You’ve created your own business from scratch, that’s already an impressive achievement! Linda says, “Remember to celebrate milestones, even the little ones! We celebrated my 5 year anniversary with a relaxing champagne brunch and followed up with a productive, afternoon work date.” While running from goal to goal, take a moment to embrace what you’ve accomplished. For Marina, it’s all about staying positive, “A big part of self care is loving yourself first.”

When you are your own boss, you must put out all the fires. Since freelancers often work solo, Lily advises not to get caught up with self-doubt or the weight of too much pressure. She recommends, “Speak to yourself the way you talk to a friend. Also, find a way to unwind whether it’s going to the gym, enjoying a hot bath or exploring a new inspiration.” When the going gets tough, call someone you trust to bounce ideas off of—whether it’s venting about a demanding client or seeking support for your next wild idea.

 

#5 LET GO

Eventually, there may come a time when a project, client or idea no longer enhances your business. When things don’t go as planned, it is okay to move on. Marina says, “Unexpected experiences can be frustrating however, you have to let go. Instead of being disappointed that it didn’t work out, think of ways you can learn and improve next time.” Linda adds, “While it is great to have long-term clients and build strong business relationships, it is also important to remember that you’re the boss and you know what’s best for you!” Lily concludes, “Whether you’ve recently ventured out on your own or have a few years in the game, struggles will inevitably arise and you’ve got to adapt to survive.”

With the new year approaching it’s time to take a look back at your own experiences. How did you connect, learn and grow? Remember to stay persistent, be open to change and get ready to glow up in 2019!