How to manage the shift from full time to freelance work
In June 2018, I decided to leave my full-time job and go freelance. Six months prior to this I had completed my Yoga Teacher Training in India and really wanted to explore life as a Yoga Teacher and at the same time continue to work in marketing, but in a freelance capacity. With a decade of marketing experience under my belt, I was lucky to find work quite quickly and contracts which allowed me to teach yoga alongside. I feel very grateful to have these two lines of work however, balancing the two can be challenging at times. As more of us may be exploring freelance work due to Covid-19, I wanted to share some of my tips on how to manage the shift from full-time to freelance.
Think of yourself as a business – know your worth. Do your research on the industry pricing, consider your experience, your location etc – these are all factors that will help you set your fee. Once you’ve decided, own it and stick to it. Talking about money and negotiating is uncomfortable yes, but you have to take it seriously if you want to survive. Budget for when the money does start to come in – there are lots of apps and other online tools to help with this, find what works for you and do it. Your future self will thank you.
This is the other thing to be clear on. As a freelancer, you have your day rate and that is usually agreed upon within set working hours. I’ve heard so many stories of exploitation of freelancers, working well beyond their agreed hours and for no extra payment. Any good employer should respect you and your time (and you, them!). If time management is something you struggle with – there are a lot of good online resources to support – including my last article.
It can be lonely at times as a freelancer particularly if you work from home, that’s why having a community is so important. There are a lot of great online (and in-person) community groups out there to offer tips, best practices, connect you to future employers or just listen when you need to talk. I’m part of a couple of WhatsApp groups for health and wellbeing professionals and I’m active on other professional groups for marketing and production work too. With Covid-19 and lockdown still in place, meet-ups in real life aren’t possible at the moment but when they are – I recommend that you go. I’ve met some great friends and colleagues from events and meet-ups that I don’t think I would have come into contact with otherwise.
What a lot of people don’t consider about freelancing are the other roles you have to take on; you have to become the accountant (managing your invoices and taxes), the project manager (juggling projects and contracts) as well as the sales and marketing team (promoting yourself and your work). Learning these new roles can be tiring, so too is the movement from company to company and contract to contract with new colleagues to get to know, new ways of working and company cultures to adapt to – these are all elements that require effort. As a freelancer, particularly during the first few months, it is so important to listen to your body and your mind, know your limitations and ensure you factor in time to rest. Block out time in your day for breaks and ensure you have at least one full day off a week.
I left my full-time role to see if it was possible to make my two passions (yoga and marketing) my line of work and form a new passion. I now have a weekly newsletter called Purpose Break which is heavily influenced by my experience as a freelancer and desire to support the freelance community. It’s my opinion that Freelancers often work longer hours and ‘hustle’ a lot more than people in full-time employment – this can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout. These conditions can affect anyone, but often in a full-time role, there is an HR team to offer and provide support. The idea behind Purpose Break is to make it easier for people in any professional environment to manage their health and wellbeing and to encourage more purposeful, mindful breaks throughout the day. Each newsletter includes practical exercises covering things like breathwork, writing activities, short yoga sequences or other movement-based activities. I really believe in the power of a break, it doesn’t have to be for very long, even just a few minutes of breathwork can improve mood and increase productivity.
There is no right way to make the shift from full-time to freelance work – everyone will have a different vision. These are just some things I personally found helpful and some other resources that really helped me manage the shift…
● Working Women’s Handbook – Ideas, Insights and Inspiration for a Successful Creative Career by Phoebe Lovatt
● Do Breathe – Calm your mind. Find Focus. Get Stuff Done by Michael Townsend Williams
● The Dots – This is a great online platform which allowed me to promote myself and my work, connect with other creative and marketing professionals and learn about interesting and relevant industry events.
● AllBright FoundHER series – This was an incredible two-day event with workshops and panel discussions led by some of the most successful female entrepreneurs across industries.
Louise is a yoga teacher and an experienced brand manager and creative producer. She has more than 10 years experience working both in-house for lululemon and Red Bull as well as agency side for Apple, to name a few. She is a certified vinyasa yoga teacher, teaching public and private classes (currently online) and also collaborates and consults wellbeing and lifestyle brands. Louise also writes a weekly email called ‘Purpose Break’ where she offers ideas for how to spend a break that’s more than just a caffeine hit. To keep up with what Louise is up to, follow her on Instagram or check out her website.