Freelance Life: Thoughts So Far

I’ve been living the freelance life for a few months now. Nowhere near long enough to feel experienced or comfortable with it. In fact, I feel like as time goes on, I realize how little I know about being a freelancer. I mean, I know the basics. How to make art (woo!). How to keep track of my bookkeeping responsibly, for taxes and such. How to work with clients. But.

Always a but.

The more I continue down this road the more I feel like I am not on the same playing field as most freelancers, both in terms of quality of work and networking. I don’t say this with the idea of fishing for compliments. I know my work is good and I’m proud of it. But it seems everywhere I turn, other people’s work is better. Other people have more established clients, have a set style, have a cohesive portfolio. I don’t have any of that. And I kind of don’t know where to start in order to get those things. Other than to keep creating.

Freelancing is never a guarantee. I know that, and I knew that going into it. There are often stretches of time with no work. At the beginning of the year, I worked steadily and it was great! In fact, I had paid work right through early March. But then that work ended. And now it’s early April. And I haven’t had paying work in three weeks. So my brain freaks out and says, Good job! You suck! Way to fail! Which I know isn’t true, I know there are so many ventures I haven’t even attempted yet, I know there are opportunities out there that I have to find, I KNOW all this, but it doesn’t help to silence that incessant voice.

The voice that constantly tells me I’m not good enough. The voice that says I can’t successfully be a freelance artist living in a small town in New Hampshire. The voice that says my family and in-laws think so little of me because I don’t have a ‘real’ job. The voice that tells me I’ll let my partner and daughter down. It’s an ugly fucking voice.

I’m realizing this post sounds really depressing, and I don’t mean it to be. I’m not depressed. I’m just…wanting more from myself. Wanting to be better. Wanting to have more paid work. Wanting to be able to shut off the voice in my head that says I don’t contribute, that I’m a financially useless part of my family. Wanting to say that I made this career a success.

So. Where to go from here? I will put on a smile and tell that voice to fuck off the best I can, and sometimes have a little meltdown about it. I will keep creating. I will keep making and working and seeking out opportunity where I can. I will do all that I can to make this freelance thing be a success.

 

  • Legit we’re like one person because I feel like I’ve had a similar thing going on with my work lately. I was getting really consistent orders for a few weeks, and now I’m lucky to get one. But you’re pretty much spot on with just plugging at it. I know that’s all I can keep doing for now, and I think the more I make the more it keeps people (including myself) interested in what I’m doing.

    • Kay

      Yes yes yes. I know there’s an ebb and flow to it all, but it can be such a mental struggle to get through the times when there is no work or sales. But as long as we never stop creating, and that mental struggle doesn’t outweigh our passion, I think we’ll be okay.

  • I think all creators have this thought process. Concern we aren’t good enough. You are good enough though! It’s just the ebb and flow of the art world. You are amazing and I proudly hang your drawing on my wall.

    • Kay

      Thanks so much Dina!! <3 I so love that commission, and I'm so glad you do too!

  • The freelance struggle is real, but just remember you and your art are amazing. Also, right before I read this I was about to email you about a commission XD Keep up the good work !

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Celeste!! I will definitely keep on making art even while riding the struggle bus that freelance can bring. 🙂

  • Ooh my gosh, I have had exactly the same thoughts recently. The project that I’m working on at the moment needs a lot of start up work before I start making money (I’m creating Wedding Stationery designs that I can sell over on Etsy) and it’s so easy to get into a spiral of feeling negative about the work I’m doing (because I’m not making any money!) then not ending up doing anything so it’s a vicious cycle not getting anything done. Just remember that you’re not alone, put one foot in front of the other, keep promoting your work, stay creative and stay positive and eventually you will get there! Keep up the great work!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much, Sian!! You as well; we’ve all got to stick together in this creative freelance life. Best of luck with your business!

  • The struggle is so real, I tried freelance a few years back and I always felt like a failure when I wasn’t bringing in the big bucks. Plus my ex wasn’t very happy about me not having a “real” job so that it made everything even more difficult. Stay positive and strong. Good luck! <3

    • Kay

      Thank you Jess! Thankfully, my partner is really supportive and the only negativity comes from my own head. Just gotta keep on trucking!

  • Mariah Kaercher

    I think that it’s great that you are doing what you want to do! There will always be out there hating on you because you’re not living the average life working 9-5 with a salary. Everyone has to start somewhere and sometimes you may have weeks where you aren’t making money yet, that will change the more networking you do!

    • Kay

      So true! Networking is one of those things I’m definitely still figuring out haha.

  • Forget that voice, really. It’s always there to bug you. Even if you are the Empress of the Universe. It’s going to be there 😮 So, the best thing is to carry on and do your best. But never think you’re less than or compare yourself to others. Just follow your path 🙂 The freelancer path is like that.

    • Kay

      <3 <3 <3 Thank you so much Pepi!! I will certainly continue with art and carrying on. And I'm getting pretty good at telling that voice to shove it. 🙂

  • Join the club, I’m also doing my best to hustle this freelance life and it’s still stressful. Especially since there’s no guarantee and sometimes you end up believing you’re not succeeding.Not getting clients,facing their rejection or just not selling art prints of my work sometimes wears on me. I’m still genuinely trying to see what I can improve on my end though. I will do my best, it’s comforting to know others experience the same things too. 🙂 So don’t give up! 🙂

    • Kay

      Yes, exactly this! Thank you for the encouragement, and don’t you give up either!

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