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May 27, 2014

5 Reasons Why Freelancing is Both Awesome & Awful...

i never planned on being a freelancer.  (and frankly, i'm not sure i can really call myself one since it's not the primary source of my income…)

but the reality is that i do quite a bit of freelance work on the side.  through photography, graphic design, even blogging.  the extra income is always welcome, and i love having these creative outlets to work through!  honestly, if i was booking enough, i think i could love being a full-time photographer and designer.  but for now, it continues to be a side job that i feel really lucky to be able to do.

if you do any amount of freelance work, then you know that there are moments when you're like... "yeah!  this is awesome!  i'm living my dream and doing what i want to do!"  and then there are also plenty of moments when you're more… "this is awful…i can't book anything and no one wants to pay what i'm asking and why did i ever think freelancing was a good idea anyhow??"

so here are the five highs and lows of my freelancing experience:

1. income! // awesome:  if you're like me and freelancing isn't your only source of income, then it's awesome to make a little extra money by using your creative talents!  awful:  it's not necessarily consistent.  i go through seasons of being really busy and it feels like the money is rolling in, and then other seasons when it just isn't.

2.  pricing // awesome:  freelancing allows you to set your own pricing for things.  you get to determine how long a project will take and what you're willing to do the job for.   awful:  pricing can be super tricky.  personally, i always feel bad charging close friends or family my normal prices for a photoshoot or design services.  and it never feels great when someone either tries to get you to charge less because they don't want to pay what you're asking, or when someone tells you they can't book you because they found "a better deal" with someone else.  but hey, that's the biz.  (check out this article by jon acuff on charging people for your services)

3.  self-promotion // awesome:  you get to say what you do and how you do it…you have control over how your services are branded and represented!  awful:  i hate having to promote myself or my services.  social media definitely makes it a little bit easier, but yeah, i still hate talking about myself or what i can do for people.

4.  business is booming!  ….or not // awesome:  you get to accept or turn down jobs that work for you or don't.  if you're just too busy, you can stop accepting jobs.  awful:  it's really hard to control that flow of business!  and it can be really discouraging when business is not booming or you put a sale out there and no one bites.

5.  time management // awesome:  you have complete control over your schedule.  you can work when you want to and aren't tied down to office hours and stuff like that.  i find that if i love what i'm doing, then i am constantly thinking about it or wanting to work on it.  awful:  if you're not good at managing your time or being self-motivated, then being your own boss is not an easy task.

so tell me…do you do any freelance work?  what are some ways you keep business going?  what do you find awesome or awful about it?


  1. Hi Bets! Really loved hearing your thoughts; some I feel also apply to me as a "freelance" writer. Obviously I could ask you this when I see you this weekend (HOORAY!), but I'm wondering if you've thought about attending a blog/design conference, or some sort of event that focuses on freelancing on the web? Do you see any apparent pros or cons there?

  2. Thank you so much for this! As someone who has dabbled in a bit of "doing things for friends" on the side, I'm interested to see if I can perhaps take things a little further. It is such a hard thing to approach in the first place, and like you I feel guilty for charging people I know! I'm not too sure what my next steps involve... how did you end up starting to freelance on the side?

  3. I totally agree with this, I freelance too...and it's not my primary source of income, but it is a nice little boost from time to time!

  4. If you want to freelance with logos/designs/illustrations. It can be helpful to start an etsy shop and post examples of what you can do! :)

  5. Ugh, I do freelance work on the weekends. Awful: Hellllo its the weekend and I just want to sleep! Awesome: money. guilty.

  6. it is! i'm super grateful for it, and i really do love the work that i do freelancing, but it can be so hard to grow that business when you're not able to focus on it 100%

  7. Jess definitely makes a good suggestion about an etsy shop!

    for my photography, i kind of just started out doing things for friends and then thought "hey, i'm actually not bad at this and people will pay me to do it!", so i started a Facebook page and blog/portfolio website for myself and just got the word out that way.

    for my design work, well, that was a total accident. haha…i posted some bridal shower games that i designed for my best friend's shower back in november, and put them on pinterest, and they just got repinned and repinned and i started getting emails asking me to customize them. so i conduct all of that business via email & paypal…i've looked at etsy but it just didn't really work for selling a customized pdf file that couldn't be an immediate download, and i just haven't had time to explore other options, but eventually i'd really love to pull my blog, photography, and design shop all under one roof/url and help them function as one entity…

    the one piece of advice i have though is to make it really obvious how people can find you/get in touch with you. i went back through those bridal shower game posts and made sure my email address was all over those (and even put in a "design" tab at the top of my blog!)…i even added my email address into the captions on the pins…it was crazy how much business picked up once i did that!

  8. oh, one more thing…the transition to charging people you know for things is a really difficult one…my boyfriend's mom always reminds me that people are willing to pay for things that they don't have the skills to do…which is always hard for me to remember because i'm just super cheap and would probably always rather try to do something myself if i can…haha

    but i am learning that the more my freelancing business grows, the more i need to adopt the attitude that i don't have to give everyone a discount. i used to say to any client "well my website says $150, but i'll do a family shoot for you for $75"…sure i was being nice and helping out a friend, and i definitely still do that for those i'm really close to (or i just do it for free!), but just not to everyone! i think there comes a time when you have to realize that you and your skills are worth what you're charging, and there's a difference between working with someone's budget (say, for a wedding), and cutting yourself short by totally undercharging.

  9. Man! I so loved this! Totally agree!

  10. Oh I totally get this!! I had a photography business for three years while going to university and really struggled with the pricing. I needed it to be worth it for me but so many people weren't willing to pay that. I actually feel kind of lucky now because I still do some photography but I tell people it is by donation, they can give me whatever they want and the money goes to our adoption. Last fall I was able to make about $1,500 in two weeks doing this, and most of the photos I took were for complete strangers!
    And I totally hear you about self promotion, whenever people ask me about photography or blogging, I feel embarrassed (for some reason) and try to steer the conversation away from that topic . . . ha, I'm not a very good at the business side. :)

  11. I was actually looking into freelance work but I'm neither a photographer or a graphic designer. I'm still learning the ropes of blogging and getting things to look visually pleasing. What freelance writing have you done?

  12. I've done some for my church, mostly copy writing and marketing, but also some blogging around Easter this year! Most of my freelance work is photography and design though…learning the ropes of this blogging stuff takes time! I started in 2009 but it wasn't until probably 2012 that I actually figured out what I was doing…haha

  13. that's awesome! doing it on a donation basis definitely sounds like it's working for you guys! i'm so with you on the business stuff….it just makes me feel so awkward to talk about myself! and then when someone mentions wanting to book a shoot "sometime" with me (but doesn't actually do it right then), i just never know how to handle that follow up…were they just being nice and saying they wanted to use me? did they check out my website and change their mind? i don't want to put on any pressure by asking if they still want to use me, so therefore i'm terrible with business haha

  14. can i just say i loved seeing you this weekend? cause it made my life. :)

  15. yes! you should start dipping your toes in the freelance water! for all of the self-promotion stress, it really is so fun and flexible and a great way to get that creativity moving and working for you! i will definitely be stopping by your blog! :)

  16. and super excited to have you on the sidebar this month! :)


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