7 lessons learned in my first year of freelance

My one year of freelancing has come around so fast. I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time and I wanted to share some tips that might help fellow freelancers, creatives and bloggers. 

1. Share your work and shout from the rooftops

Do you remember in college when you had to write a personal statement and humbly-brag about yourself for like 750 words? Well being a freelancer is like that… except daily. When you work for yourself, you have to be your own champion. I get friends messaging me saying ‘my friend just got married and you’re the first person that I thought of’, and why is that? Because I’ve shouted about my business every single day. No-one can do this for you. To stay in peoples minds you have to constantly be promoting yourself. The second that I realised that this was the career that I’d been longing for, I knew that I had to disassociate myself from who I used to be, Sophie the actor etc, and that took a lot and a lot and a lot of promotion. It takes some getting used to but when you’re passionate about the work that you do, it won’t feel like a chore. You just have to bite the bullet and be your own biggest fan, and getting ‘I instantly thought of you’ messages are just so rewarding.

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2. Practice discipline

I touched on this in my work from home tips post, but when you’re a freelancer, you don’t have a set shift. There’s no-one telling you to do this, or do that. Sure, I get deadlines especially with commercial work, but my work ethic is completely on me. Whether I even have work to do, or not, five days a week I’ll completely throw myself into my business and use my camera every single day. Practice really does make perfect. I always get dressed, I always force myself to work and I curate a workspace that makes me feel inspired. I haven’t nailed the work/life balance and to be honest I really struggle to switch off at the moment but I’m hoping that that will come with time. 

3. Have your own code of ethics

This is your business, and whilst it doesn’t have the structure of huge companies, at its heart you need to have a code of ethics and morals that you’ll do your business by. For me that’s always always going out of my way to help my couples, whether that’s giving NHS Discount, or changing all of their dates free of charge after Covid. We are all human and I’m so grateful that they’ve booked with me that I want to do all that I can to give them an amazing experience. My ethics also includes being honest and transparent with clients, being myself (not too formal but still professional), and a promise to be completely present on their wedding day. I don’t want to settle for anything less. As a freelancer nobody is there to hold you to a high standard so you really have to do that yourself.

4. Know your worth when it comes to pricing

Pricing can be really difficult. You’ve set your rates, you’ve compared it to other competitors and then when you’re having a quieter month, someone will approach you with absurdly low rates and it can be so tempting but you have to decide if it really is worth it. Photography is a very expensive career. When someone pays for images they’re not just paying for that photograph. They’re paying for: the equipment, the lighting, the shooting time, styling time, editing time, the gallery software, my skills, my training, my editing software, WiFi, utilities, and insurance etc to name but a few. I’ve been so tempted by very very low (and slightly insulting) offers with weddings because to be honest I just love my job SO much, but you (and I) have to remember to be more business brained to keep afloat.

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5. Learn which clients you want to attract, and which you want to avoid.

This follows my code of ethics; not every client will be right for you and that’s ok. After a year of business, I’ve realised how to get a sense of which clients aren’t going to be for me. The ones who email you (or call you) at 3am and expect a response immediately, the one’s who always ask for a discount over and over, or who ask for editing styles that clearly don’t reflect your work, or even ask you to film their weddings (not a videographer). It’s ok to say no to a client if you can tell that you’re not the right fit and it’ll just save hardships further down the line.

6. Not everyone will support you

This is a strange one. As a small business I’ve very quickly learned how easy it is to support one another. Sharing a post of mine, name dropping me to someone newly engaged or even just liking something that I’ve done can honestly make all the difference. Some strangers will be amazing at this, and some friends will be the opposite. You just have to take it on the chin and be your own biggest fan. 

7. Organise your money very carefully

I’ve had this so many times. I get asked to do a huge commercial shoot at very late notice, they have a super tight deadline (that’s almost implausible). I shoot for 14 hour days to get it done to them in time, they’re super happy and then they don’t pay me for like two months… Yeah. It’s infuriating. People treat freelancers different financially to bigger companies. It sucks but it’s just the way that it is so you can’t depend on getting paid on time… basically ever. Savings are your best friend. I could rant on this for ages but always make sure that you’re covering your own back and not depending on money until it is almost way overdue. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is in my experience.

That’s all from me. What lessons have you all learned?

I have an Instagram giveaway going live next week that I’m really excited about so keep your eyes peeled to be in a chance to win some goodies!

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Soph x

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1 Comment

  1. July 12, 2020 / 8:29 pm

    Love this post! And number six is SO true when it comes to promoting my blog. It’s mad! R x

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