Probably a bit of a heavy subject for my second blog post and a topic that has already been covered before by other creatives but here it goes – the lonely life of freelancer.
My move into freelancing came rather suddenly – after the company I worked for went bust (right before Christmas as well! I know, right?). I didn’t have time to prepare or ease myself into it. I didn’t even have a website ready! I had been thinking about going freelance for a while but lacked the confidence to make the leap. When fate intervened I thought ‘Sod it! In for a penny, in for a pound!’. So armed with nothing more than some contacts a friend had given me and a makeshift holding page I set about trying and drum up some work… aka ‘hustling’.
Ah hustling. Along with quoting it’s probably my least favourite task when it comes to freelancing. I’ve never found it easy to put myself out there and sing my praises, instead finding self-deprecation much easier. I’m the one at industry events nervously stood in the corner or acting like I’m REALLY interested in the work is on show.* The idea of going up to someone and simply saying ‘I’m Leanne, I’m a freelance designer. What do you do?’ brings me out in a cold sweat.
The best thing about being a freelancer is being my own boss. It is something I have really taken too. I’m really lucky to have a great little set-up at home (yes I work from home for the most part), which saves on outgoings but I find it is during those lulls in work where I miss having colleagues the most. Not just because the walls can sometimes feel like they’re closing in but having people to bounce ideas off or give their opinion on what I’m working on. I find, if I’m struggling to resolve a design, left to my own devices I can really be my own worst enemy – I overthink work, constantly tweak it and can lose confidence. Having another (trusted) pair of eyes look at your work can be invaluable.
There are days when I’m contacting people, trying to get my name out there, make connections and… nothing… It feels like I’m shouting into a cave sometimes. Those are the harder days.
I’m very aware that more often then not people portray a skewed version of themselves online – they only win pitches, never lose; they are constantly busy; each job is exciting and creative; and they never burn (or in my case grill) their cakes. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help comparing myself to others and I usually end up feeling like I’m failing. That’s on top of the day-to-day insecurities of hair, weight, clothes. Sometimes I think I could make worrying an Olympic sport.
Comparing yourself to others is natural though. Everyone does it. I try and force myself to try and do it positively though, as a means to help me improve and definitely not as a means to drag me into a depression spiral where I find myself sat on the sofa crying through Jeremy Kyle while comfort eating slabs of cheese. For the record I have not done this, I’d never watch Jeremy Kyle and neither should you.
So to conclude… yeah sorry I don’t really have the answers I’m still learning as I go, still trying to plug away at it and find the courage to one day walk into a room and announce to everyone ‘Hi, I’m Leanne and I’m a freelance designer’ whilst showering them with business cards. Ok that will probably never happen but I’d settled for finding the confidence to go up to someone I don’t know and introduce myself.
If you have the answers feel free to share them with me or even if you’d like to meet up for a chat. We’re all very small fish in a incredibly large pond.
*If you ever do see me at an event staring at something for a few minutes and not blinking then feel free to come over and say hello, I’m not as intense as I’d be coming across!