How to Survive Your First Few Months As A Freelancer

Practical tips to embrace the uncertainty that comes with pursuing your passion.

How to Survive Your First Few Months As A Freelancer
Image from the author’s Instagram.

Practical tips to embrace the uncertainty that comes with pursuing your passion.

Surviving your first few months in any job is hard.

But what about the reverse? If you quit your job to pursue your passion, how do you survive the first few months (which are always the hardest)?

You work alone from home, put insane pressure on your creativity to constantly pump out content, and feel disconnected from friends who revel in their regular jobs. It’s easy to slip into self-pity mode and lose sight of your goals.

How to make sure this doesn’t happen and have a smooth transition? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Here are a few mindset shifts and habits that helped me survive the first few months as a full-time writer.

1. Build a routine

As a self-employed person, you run the risk of falling into extremes: either working too hard or too little.

You might stare at the computer screen for hours at a stretch, and yet end the day feeling like you achieved nothing.

Or you might binge-watch Netflix for weeks, and then wake up one day to realize your bank account is empty.

Neither of these is a hypothetical scenario. I have freelancer friends who have gone through these phases at the start of their new profession.

To save yourself from this, build a routine and stick to it. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Before you sleep, plan your next day.
  2. Set actionable items on your to-do list, and allocate a time slot for each. Divide your day into strict time blocks, if you have to.
  3. Review your day before you go to sleep to understand which tasks drained the most of your time.
  4. Set aside time every day to relax and spend some time in nature.

2. Make friends

Staring at a screen all day can be lonely and tiring.

To make sure you have support on this journey, reach out to people you see are doing a great job online, and make friends.

Here’s how you can go about doing it if you don't step out of the house much:

  1. Join reading clubs, book events, and writing workshops in your city. You’ll surely meet like-minded people with whom you can later become friends. If you can’t find a club to join, make one and use social media to spread the word.
  2. Send DMs online to people whose words you resonate with. Don’t just say, “Hi.” Instead, introduce yourself, mention what you liked about their work, and propose a 30-minute call to catch up and talk about your niche.
  3. Join as many “office hours” of software that you use as you can. Substack and Pro Writing Aid are the two tools I know that host weekly office hours and webinars. I’ve made several connections during these, and I’d highly recommend any writer to join them.

Of course, not all relationships you seek will work out. But you’ll definitely not feel so alone anymore.

3. Look ahead

When things don’t work out well, you might start regretting your decision to quit your job.

Fear might consume your thoughts, and when that happens, it gets hard to think of a roadmap ahead. You might find yourself agonizing over decisions you made in the past, and ruing the day you dared enough to take this step.

This is a dangerous route to take, as reflecting on what might have been can make you blind to all the progress you’ve made.

To avoid any regrets that serve you no purpose, look ahead.

Rather than worrying about how things went wrong, focus on what needs to be done to solve the issue. Step out of the victim mindset, wear your problem-solving hat, and focus on what can be done to minimize the damage.

“I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right.” ~ Ratan Tata

4. Nurture other hobbies

When your passion becomes your profession, it’s easy to feel less and less excited about showing up and working every day.

Writing has always been a form of self-expression for me. But when I started writing for money, I had to think about other aspects like SEO or how the algorithm would favor it. When I factored these in, the writing stopped being about me and more for the purpose of earning my bread.

This left me feeling frustrated, and I started dreading the moments when I’d actually have to write. This also left me feeling empty, like I had nothing to do that was for me alone.

I came up with an alternative that helped. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. To remove the pressure on your creativity, nurture other hobbies, especially ones which you have no scope (or interest) to make money from.
  2. Even if your hobby makes you money, find a way to do it only for yourself and not publish to the world at all. I do this by writing at least 300 or so words in my journal every night. These words are for my eyes only, and hence aren’t affected by any algorithm.

5. Become obsessed — in a good way

Get obsessed with your new goal and your new definition of success.

Let it be the reason to get out of bed every morning filled with a sense of excitement.

Let it be all you can think about when you’re in the shower.

Let it consume you and become the center of your universe.

Only if you let your passion become your obsession, you can achieve great heights without feeling burnt out.

“If you don’t have the mental capacity to be that obsessed about what you’re trying to get. Then you ain’t never gonna have it.” ~ C.T. Fletcher

What tactics have helped you survive the first few months of a job or a self-employed life? Do share your insights in the comments.

Want to be a successful freelancer but struggling to find good clients? Check out my 90-day guide to finding your first high-paying freelance client. You’ll find 5 pitching secrets, 2 email templates, and a solid framework to get your freelancing career started.

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