Getting close to the anniversary of working for myself I always take a step back and count my blessings. I work on my own schedule, get to work from anywhere, and design is finally a challenge again. I also learn that joining the solopreneur force is definitely not for everyone (more on that later!).

I want to start demystifying the dream of working for yourself. It’s not all glitz and definitely can be unglamorous. In my busiest months, I’ll work 200+ hours and in my slowest I’ll work about 40. Winter is definitely a rush for my industry, while Summer brings along smaller one-off projects. When I’m not pulling in graphic design projects or selling artwork, you’ll often find me working as a Brand Ambassador at your local supermarket.

Hey, whatever it takes to pay the bills. Speaking of, here’s a better visualization of my average cashflow:

There’s parts of it that I’d like to make bigger, but it’s all a journey. When you are getting started the beginning, I think it’s all about setting some expectations early on about how your #freelancelife is going to be.

Finding Leads

My first year I downloaded a directory of every Oregon cannabis licensed business and sent the same canned email. From outreach to landing a project, my conversion rate was probably around 1.2%. Now most of my clients are referred from a past client or some kind of social media outreach. One of the reasons this change happened is because I was willing to work on anything. Being flexible with your discipline and being unafraid to chart unknown territories.

This year was the year of firsts for me. I’ve branded festivals for the first time, designed a magazine for the first time, created calendars for the first time, and with each new adventure I had to roll with the punches and deliver the most polished piece of work that I could give.

It was rough. But, being self-taught is always a rough road. We can still get it done.

Doing The Work

You can imagine the difference between working for someone else and working from home. The best part is being able to work the way you want. Bump that song, light that joint, take 15 pee breaks, just get your work done. The worst part is having to take care of your 4-day old dishes while you have two deadlines and a call at 2:30p because your in-laws are coming over.

It’s all about knowing yourself and what you can take. Do you like the freedom of working remotely or do you need an office environment to feel productive? Personally, I like to keep a balance of local and remote projects so I feel motivated at all times. Are you able to handle multiple clients at the same time? Rarely will you have a client that is able to keep you busy ALL the time. When you have an off season for one, it might be time to take on another. Or two. Not three. Again, just so long you know what you can handle.

Stay Organized

And because we work for ourselves we have to do the nitty-gritty stuff too. This is the most avoided part of my work and also the most important. Do yourself a favor and find an Intro to Accounting seminar either online or in person. You’ll learn about all kinds of deductions (oh hey, Internet fees!) and how to properly prepare for big Tax Day. My biggest help is QuickBooks Self Employed. I pay the annual fee during tax time so it doesn’t hurt as much, then I can automate the rest and relax until April.

Even after all the craziness, I don’t think I could ever go back to working a full-time job. Once you gain your footing in the freelance world, your horizon will begin to expand and brand new possibilities will find you. It’s the constant getting-back-up that shapes us as business owners and human beings. I can’t wait to see what 2020 will bring!