As of the 1st of October, Human Voices – as a full-time venture – is now 2 years old!
Human Voices has been officially up and running since October 2011, and almost 4 years to the day after I started the business, I quit my job to become a full-time freelancer. This has been my only job for 2 years now, and I couldn’t be more pleased!
To celebrate, I made the most garish cake I could think of:
Of course, birthdays are a pretty good time for reflection, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been in business:
- If you do a good job, clients will come back. It might take a few months or a few years (the latter especially if you’re dealing with people who write novels), but if you make a good impression your clients will remember you and they will return. This makes things easier, the longer you do a job like this: I’ve built up a good list of contacts, and it’s always exciting to get an email from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time, asking me to help with their latest exciting project.
- It’s all about connections and word of mouth. I started out working on projects for friends and family, and my connections built from there through people I met online and other freelancers. This year I’ve started expanding my network even more by going to business meet-ups and networking events, and by (temporarily) running my local group for the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. Business seems to be all about making and maintaining connections, and if you do a good job your existing clients won’t just return, they’ll recommend you to other people.
- You gain incredible amounts of confidence. I remember feeling particularly nervous about two things when I was starting out: work and money. I would check and re-check and re-re-check my own work, terrified about missing something or making a mistake, and I’d always be anxious about quoting my prices for completing a job. Now, with two years of hard data under my belt (I have a super-spreadsheet that tracks every job I do to the minute) and plenty of positive feedback, I know exactly what I can do and what my time is worth, and that is a huge confidence boost.
- You learn to deal with the hard times. Freelancing involves peaks and troughs, and I’ve often felt like I either have money or work, but rarely both at the same time: I’m either buried in work but none of my payments have come through, or all the payments are coming in but I don’t have anything to do. (FYI, I find the first scenario much more bearable than the second; thankfully, it’s also more common.) Living without a regular pay cheque, or even a constant promise of full working days, can be stressful, and for many people it would be reason enough not to do it. But for me the pros of freelancing so outweigh the cons that it’s a no-brainer. Even better, dealing with those scary troughs really does toughen you up.
- There’s still so much to learn! 2 years in full-time business is a great achievement, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t really that long. I’ve by no means stopped learning, and I’m excited to see how much more I have to discover as I go through (hopefully) many more years of business!
Are you a new freelancer or considering making the switch? Feel free to contact me if you have any questions – I’d be happy to talk to you!