Congratulations on joining the freelancers! This will likely become the craziest ride you’ve ever experienced.

When crazy things begin happening, it’s best to spend a lot of time preparing for the ride. Consider this quote by Abraham Lincoln:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

With this quote in mind, let’s get you ready for the ride.

It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

You are well aware that freelancing can be a bumpy ride. Before you left your day job, everyone probably loved telling you. But nasty comments aside, I’m here to share what exactly your freelance income will look like.

What first happens is you spend a lot of time drumming up new clients. Then you get a lot of new clients. Your income spikes. You’re income is high and you’re pleased. But then a few clients go belly up and your income drops significantly with little or no notice. Now you have to juggle your existing clients with finding new clients. You can do this in two ways: seeking out new roles, getting yourself noticed. Expect your income to be very rocky as you get new clients, have clients fall away, you ‘fire’ clients and so on. It’ll likely take a year before you know how to juggle well enough to have a stable income.

Danger: Falling Rocks

Freelancing is much more dangerous than holding a steady salaried position. But alas, without risk is without reward. So we love the danger! Always be sure to note that falling rocks could come at any time. These are things such as your computer crashes, your assistant isn’t performing, you’ve dominated your niche and left wondering “Where should I expand?” and more. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Runaway Ramp Ahead

Congratulations. You’re almost what most people would call successful. At this stage, you are feeling pretty good about yourself. You make a lot of money. Your clients love you. Your industry peers take you out for lunch and pick you up from the airport – just to pick your brain. It’s awesome. But you must not get too full of yourself. Being too prideful could keep you from paying attention to the up-and-comers in your industry. Your pride could also go from being admiring to being annoying. So chill.

Also… you are passionate about your work if you’ve gotten to that stage. Others may mistake this passion for a sort of obsession. These are usually people who think work is work and must be miserable. They wonder why you spend so much time in misery. So be prepared for these people and let them know you enjoy your work and it gives you deep fulfillment.

On the other hand, make sure you still give time to other aspects of your life. Make sure you have relative limits in mind and you’re not always obsessing over getting just one more client.

Welcome to Success

Congratulations. You make a great income. You have great friends. You’ve mastered the work-life balance.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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