Learning How To Get The Most From Your Freelance Dream

Freelancing can be quite liberating, but if done wrong it can be your worst nightmare.

Trust me on this one. I have seen people who were very successful in their day job, but ended up having to stop freelancing simply because they couldn’t handle it.

Deadlines, time management, clients… These are just a few of the things that can drive a freelancer crazy at times and leave him or her wishing for a day job. However, most freelancers learn with experience that there are ways to handle all of this without it being too stressful or overwhelming.

Before we delve into how to get the most from your freelance dream, let’s take a look at some of the good and bad parts of freelancing.

The Good and Bad of Freelance Work

Everyone who has participated in the great freelance dream will easily confirm this: working from home can be as much of a blessing as a curse.

Granted, the advantages of working from home are obvious.

  • Set your own schedule.
  • Work in pajamas if you feel like doing so.
  • Avoid putting up with unreasonable bosses.

The downsides are not so obvious for someone who hasn’t worked as a full-time freelancer, but they’re very real. Freelancing can be very difficult.

  • It can be troublesome to get organized and get things done when there’s no one telling you what to do.
  • Separating work from leisure can be quite tricky, especially when you’re used to doing both things in the same space.

With these in mind, here are some tips to help you get the most from freelancing.

Hit the Road, Make Room for Freedom

The freelance experience can be quite rewarding and liberating, provided you know how to keep things separated and get things done.

You’ll have to develop self-discipline and proper working habits. When it comes to dealing with the procrastination induced by working from home the solution is actually quite simple — take your laptop and find a place where you can finish your work undisturbed.

Choose Your Destiny, Just Get Things Done

As a freelancer, you’re only limited by your thinking. You have control over every single aspect of your work flow.

If you don’t feel like working in the same old spot, pack your computer and get out the door. You’re free to participate in the so-called “Starbucks phenomenon” where masses of freelancers band together in the nearest Starbucks coffee shop for caffeine and a sense of company. You can even get really creative and exercise your ability to work from anywhere, ranging from a vast forest to a glorious sunny beach.

There’s Some Truth to the Rich Beach Bum Myth

The “millionaire beach bum” phenomenon is perhaps the new emerging trend when it comes to freelancing. This concept has grown into an on-line marketing urban legend of sorts.

Remember those old viral marketing ploys focused around the idea of the “beach bum who works from the beach – but makes $299.000 per week?

Those campaigns clearly exploited the work-at-home dream, tickling the fantasies of thousands of discontented office workers who craved for liberty and shelter from their oppressive corporate ladders.

Still, the myth of the self-sufficient freelance beach bum is getting closer to the truth as technology improves.

Best of Both Worlds: Get Inspired to Get Ahead

How far from the truth is the myth of the “millionaire beach bum?”

Making a quarter of a million dollars each week is definitely an unreasonable goal for most. However, if you’d be happy earning a few thousand dollars each week, that goal is more realistic — well, why not?

There are dozens of thousands freelancers across the country and the beach is a great place to get some inspiration to get your work done… much better than sitting in the same old room day after day.

In fact, I’ll let you in on a small secret. While this article is not being written from a beach, I can assure you I can see sand and surf just in the horizon. Moving around freely can work wonders for productivity, and finding that one perfect place where you know you’ll actually feel like working can actually be good for your business.

Share Your Tips to Get the Most From Freelancing

I know there are many seasoned freelancers who hang out at Freelance Folder.

Share with the rest of us some of your tips to help new freelancers understand how to get the most from freelancing.

Leave your tips in the comments.

top image by Muha


  1. Vicki Willingham says

    Good tips, I must remember to leave my home office one day and go somewhere else – I will probably find fresh inspiration elsewhere.

  2. says

    I hear a lot of people these days talking about how they have to change locations to stay productive. I believe that as long as you have a dedicated office, something that you keep all of your day to day and non-freelance work away from you’ll be fine.

  3. says

    I would say for me choosing hours that I was going to work and actually sticking to them was huge. When first starting to freelance I realized quickly that I had to have some daytime hours so that clients could call me and I could set up meetings but then I also really enjoyed working at night and am productive during the night. So for me, splitting my hours from 10am-2pm and then 9pm-1am is perfect.

  4. says

    One of the hardest things for me was being disciplined to actually have some relaxation time. Without the separation of office and home, it’s too easy to check email or do some work-related task just because you happen to be home in the evening and the computer is right there…So creating boundaries around work time and leisure time is definitely helpful in order to get the most out of each.
    I’ve also found that keeping a log of how I spend my time (you can divide it up according to leisure vs. work and also into specific work projects) helps keep me on-task, and manage my time more efficiently.

  5. says

    This is a great article with some really good (basic) ideas that we always need to come back to as freelancers. Working from home can be a wonderful thing, but you have to be disciplined. I like the idea of ‘Hitting the Road’. Great read for new and seasoned freelancers.

  6. says

    @Vicki : Working from home is fun but sometimes a change of environment can really boost your productivity. I tend to venture out to the park, library or coffee shop from time to time for change of scenery and inspiration. It works!

    @Erica : Your schedule sounds very much like mine. I seem to be more productive during night, especially with my creativity. I tend to manage campaigns during the day and write and do other creative aspects of my work at night :)

    @Lucy : Good tip. Working from home is nice but sometimes you don’t really have an option to say “I am done and am going home.” It definitely helps to follow your advice on keeping a log and separating work from personal life although both revolve under one roof.

    @RJ : Glad you found it useful.

    @tbmedia : Hang in there. You are almost there :)

  7. says

    I’ve been trying to get out a bit more and work from the bookstore (my fav place ever) and to try to enjoy the sunshine more. The hardest part of freelancing is probably finding work. You can go weeks or months with no work, and then suddenly be slammed; and then dead once again. It’s definitely worth it to keep at it though. :)

  8. says

    I find that changing scenery definitely helps with inspiration and ideas. Sitting at a desk just doesn’t seem to cut it sometimes.
    I’m not a full time freelancer, but hope to make the jump in 2010.

  9. says

    I’m not a full time freelancer either, but getting paid to work at home has been a wonderfull experience. More importantly, making people smile by doing the one thing that you love the most is very very rewarding.
    Brilliant article, thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    I am a part time freelancer and with time & enough money hopefully will turn to full time freelancing soon. I have a separate room for my office. When I am in that room, I am in work mode. But when I am out of that room, I am out of work mode and into personal mode. I leave my work related thoughts in that room. When I am in that room I leave out my personal thoughts.

    This way I am able to separate my personal and work related life.

    I am more productive in the morning. So, to work on freelance projects I get up at 4am and I can be twice as productive as an ant!!!

  11. says

    I found a home :) I have just discovered this site and had a look around. I am a part time freelance writer and am making plans to go full time within a few months.

    Ritu, this is some good advice, your ideas about being mobile is a pertinent one and it certainly gets the creative juices flowing. I often write in Borders bookshop with a coffee, when I need a break, I just people watch, it’s great.

  12. says

    I’m in the same boat with Lucy. I have a hard time ‘leaving’ work. With my office in my home and work always needing to be done, I’m constantly being ‘lured’ back to work. I have to force myself to ‘go home’ so to speak. I love the freedom freelancing brings. I can run errands when I need to, take care of family emergencies that come up, or even take an extended lunch with a friend. But I find that more often than not, I’m in my office working.

  13. says

    I’ll live with never being able to work from the beach. Need the structure of an office or at least a place that I’m not constantly staring down the opportunity to not do work. I know myself well enough to understand that it just wouldn’t work for me, however where on earth is that picture from because I can always take a vacation.

  14. Almazul says

    I’m sorry to be the party-pooper in the comments section, but i found this article to be so obvious as to be, well, useless. My reaction was, ‘wow, you got paid to write this?’ then, man i need to be writing these kinds of articles too!
    To me it didn’t tackle the really hard part: getting enough work. But now I know! write articles that seem obvious….someone will think they are brilliant!

  15. says

    My best tip for freelancing is to set business hours, When you have specific hours to work each day everyone respects your time. When you work piece mail/willy nilly when the you find time here and there, it’s too distracting. You can’t sit down and focus on completing one task if you keep having to get up.

    Nice post!

  16. says

    I could give a million tips that most seasoned freelancers would tell you, but I have learned a great tip from my Advertising Design teacher: sketch your ideas ALWAYS. This really only implies to freelance designers, but you can always write down your ideas.

    Only a few weeks ago, I would go straight to the computer, and just design. My Ad Design teacher saw this, and yelled at me. She explained how when we go straight to the computer, we get attached to the design without thinking of other elements such as typography, and layout. If you start on paper, you see if the layout will work. It has been very helpful lately to me, and it has been easier to design with sketching first. So SKETCH FIRST, DESIGN LATER ;)

  17. says

    I’d love the opportunity to work from the beach! Unfortunately I’m about as land locked as you can be in England. Still its a good idea to make the most of being freelance and get out and change your scenery. I think that working from home is potentially dangerous as like you said its the place where you relax and unwind. I think its good for the mindset to separate leisure from business as much as possible.

  18. says

    My advice for getting the most out of freelancing would be to always remind yourself of why you started freelancing in the first place, and then to go out and enjoy it.

    For example, I started freelancing because I didn’t want to leave my children in the care of other people anymore. But the more successful I got, the busier I got and the less attention I gave my children (and, um, house cleaning).

    It gets to the point where I sometimes don’t enjoy freelancing anymore. So, I just have to stop and remind myself why I’m doing this in the first place. If that means cutting down on my freelancing work, then so be it. I accept fewer assignments and make a point to play with the kids more.

    It’s different for each freelancer. If you went freelance so you can finish your book, then go and make time (and conserve your energy) to keep writing that book.

    It’s not always about income. For some, freelancing is more about “freedom.” Enjoy it!

  19. says

    Very nice. The biggest thing for me is organizing my time and separating work from personal.

    I have gotten much better at organizing work with personal responsibilities but it can be hard when you work at home. I guess at some point, you have to find the right groove between work and personal time.


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