• Community, Advice

Three things I've learned as a young freelancer

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

The idea of freelancing is really enticing to people like me who are exiting college. The job market doesn't look so hot right now and many employers are looking for qualifications we don't have, like advanced degrees. A lot of us just don't have the money to pursue more education.

So how can we get the experience we need without having the job we need for getting the experience?

That question floated through my head a lot until I decided to try freelancing last August. I’d had enough by that point and knew I wasn't going to find another job. But I had to pay the bills somehow and my salary at a part-time job I hated wasn't going to cut it.

I knew something had to change and that's when I decided to go freelance.

I wanted to do something different with my life and use my college degree. After all, I had worked hard for that darn thing and wanted the chance to use it for once.

While there have been some bumps, I’ve learned three really important things during the early part of my freelancing career.

1. Patience is a virtue.

One of the tactics I use to get more visibility in my niche is to cold pitch my services. This is one of the most anxiety-ridden things a new freelancer can do but it's also one of the quickest ways to get clients.

You learn how to be patient when you're waiting on people to get back to you about the e-mail you sent them. Sometimes, though, it's okay to check back in with them to see if they got your pitch.

You might get impatient with the waiting game but that game is also a normal part of freelancer life. It's how you wait that makes the difference between success and failure.

I also use guest blog posts to get noticed by my target clients. I am in the mental health niche so I submit guest posts on mental health websites. I also share my own issues with mental illness. I’ve found that clients like hearing about that because it’s personal and humanizes me.

But waiting to hear back from the people in charge is nerve-wracking. Accept that you really don’t have a choice, other than to be patient.

2. Your business will get nowhere without determination.

When it comes to cold pitching, determination plays a huge role. I get quite a few negative responses when I’m cold pitching and that’s normal. Not everyone wants or needs your services.

Of course there have been times when I've wanted to quit freelancing or even change niches. But, I also have a passion for the mental health field and the education I can provide other people.

My passion gives me determination to keep going even with the negative responses. I want to be able to help the people affected by mental illness. How can I do that by sitting around?

Like I said, there is a level of terror involved with cold pitching to someone. My determination to leave my corporate job also helps me get through the terror.

I need a level head when I'm sending out my pitches so that I'm not making a rookie mistake. I don't want to lose out on clients because of something I could have prevented.

3. Everyone you pitch to isn’t an ideal client.

One of the biggest things I've learned so far is that not everyone I pitch to is the right fit for my services. They may have a mission I love but that doesn't make them ideal to work with.

If they respond in a negative way toward my pitch, my gut tells me they aren't ideal clients. They might come back later and ask for my services but that still doesn't make them ideal clients.

Who's to say there wouldn't be some scope creep? Who's to say they won't be too needy? Who's to say they won't demand that you be on call 24/7?

I could go on and on with the possibilities there. I've heard the horror stories from others about non-ideal clients. I want to prevent those stories from happening to me in the future.

My future as a freelance blogger looks bright but it all depends on my mindset. I'm excited to see what my career horizon will look like as I move forward in my business.

Lisa is a freelance mental health writer who hates the stigma of mental illness. She loves hanging out on Facebook and reading. Want to talk blog posts? Go to!