6 min read
Starting your freelance career is going to take you on quite an exciting/scary/unbelievable/challenging/freeing adventure.
You’ll hear that to be a successful freelancer you should set boundaries, create a schedule, cut distractions, or even just put your pants on in the morning. But beyond the day-to-day routines you establish as a freelancer, there’s also a mental aspect you need to protect and nurture.
Setting your own schedule sounds amazing at first, but if you’ve never been your own boss or worked from home, you’ll quickly find that the discipline to stay focused takes work. Procrastination and the dirty dishes in the sink can distract you from sitting at your desk (which by the way, you definitely need a dedicated work space) and getting the real work done that you need to move your business forward.
When you don’t have co-workers or a director to brainstorm ideas with or give you feedback, you can end up in a vacuum of your own ideas. Missing those opportunities for growth and collaboration could leave you fighting mental roadblocks that make you doubt your ability to deliver your best work.
Staying positive in the face of those roadblocks and distractions takes understanding, discipline, and a lot of work. One of the best ways to protect your mental state as a freelancer is to know how to spark creativity.
No matter what line of work you’re in, as a freelancer your creativity is always going to be a part of your work. How to juggle clients, solve problems, fit into budgets, write copy for a website, help a client reach their full potential– it all involves tapping into your creativity to get the job done in the most effective and efficient way possible.
To stay on top of your game as a freelancer, you need to seek out motivation. You need people in your life that push you to be better, work that gets you out of your comfort zone, and places you can look to for your daily dose of inspiration.
As former freelancers ourselves, the ConvertKit team is well-versed in seeking out creativity and inspiration. Here are some of our go-to sources for inspiration and some new ones I came across to help you stay focused, get the job done, and dream big.
Do the Work: This Steven Pressfield book is about fighting resistance and embracing a primitive approach to creativity and work.
Emotional Agility: Susan David’s book is all about training yourself to be adaptable in any scenario life throws at you.
Essentialism: Greg McKeown teaches you how to figure out what you care about most and how to spend your time and energy to get the the greatest rewards in return.
Everything I Know: Paul Jarvis wrote this book as a no-rules guide to freelancing based on his two decades of personal experience as a talented freelancer.
Linchpin: A linchpin is somebody who is indispensable with a role that is far too unique and valuable to be lost. Seth Godin challenges you to be a linchpin and teaches you how to be a game changer and artist in your life and work.
Rework: David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried wrote this book to show freelancers like you how to stop worrying about tasks that don’t lead to more income and generally how to work smarter, not harder.
Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer: The Evolution of a $1m Web Designer: In this book, Liam Veitch lays out everything he wished he knew the first time he went freelance.
The $100 Startup: Chris Guillebeau’s book shows you how to lead a life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living while doing it.
Freelance.chat– A Slack community for freelancers to join other freelancers in learning and discovering new opportunities.
Freelance Lift– An online community to find support, training, and accountability to evolve your business into something you can be proud of.
One Woman Shop – Part resource, part community, One Woman Shop helps you take risks and change lives- in business and beyond.
99U– These podcasts are sit downs with leading creatives, thinkers, and entrepreneurs to delve deep into their one-of-a-kind insights about the creative process.
Mom Biz Solutions: In this podcast, get your weekly dose of business coaching for mombiz owners along with mothering tips, small business marketing strategies, and funny stories about the joys and chaos of being a mom and an entrepreneur.
Portrait of a Freelancer: Ariel Bissett is a new freelancer that takes us on the journey of exploring this new lifestyle with her as it happens.
Smart Passive Income: Pat Flynn’s podcast is dedicated to weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your own business.
Sunday Dispatches: Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatches is a short, weekly show that helps creatives kick some butt at the intersection of creativity and commerce.
The Introvert Entrepreneur: This podcast focuses on business and life from an introvert's perspective, providing resources, advice, and inspiration under four main categories- entrepreneurship, leadership, relationship, and personal growth.
The Freelance Podcast: This podcast is targeted at people in steady jobs who are doing a bit of freelancing on the side and are nervous about transitioning to full-time freelance work.
The Solopreneur Hour: In this podcast Michael O'Neal chats with other entrepreneurs to learn how to take your skills and hobbies and turn them into a business.
The Unmistakable Creative: This podcast is for anyone looking to be inspired from other creatives' stories or for actionable tips on productivity, creativity, tapping passion, and more.
This is Your Life: This is a podcast all about leadership with episodes that focus on reconsidering the idea of being a perfectionist, escaping overwhelm, wowing clients, and setting goals.
Double Your Freelancing– Brennan Dunn’s site provides great software and products to freelancers and consultants to help you master the business behind your business.
Fast Company– With articles written by business leaders, professors, and top entrepreneurs, Fast Company covers everything from how to get more done to advice on writing business plans.
Freelance.tv– Freelance designer Dann Petty drove 10,000 miles across the United States to interview freelancers about their daily lives. This site is dedicated to telling their stories.
Product Hunt- This site finds the best new products every day. Their freelance group is full of tools and apps that can help you get your work done.
Seth’s Blog: Seth Godin’s blog focuses on marketing, promotion, innovation, and community building all from the view of bucking traditional wisdom.
TED– TED talks are well-known for their inspiration and this channel on entrepreneurship is full of great advice, tips, and stories for freelancers to take a much needed break during the day.
The nuSchool– The nuSchool was created to help designers learn how to run freelance businesses.
Your Freelance Career– While a lot of the content on this site is geared toward graphic designers, the personal experiences, real world examples, and advice can be applied to all freelancers to help you get the inspiration and knowledge you need to jumpstart your freelance business.
What blogs, podcasts, and books are you digging into these days? Let us know in the comments so we can get in on that knowledge too!
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.