My response to Computer Art’s question: What’s the biggest mistake you've made since going freelance and what did you learn from it?

Every response to this question I read in the Creative Art’s article ‘What’s the biggest mistake you made since going freelance and what did you learn from it?’ had me thinking “Yup, been there”. I could probably give you a Top 10 run down of the mistakes I’ve made in the past 5 years of freelancing but I have one which I’m still working on… 

I have a constant battle with my workaholic brain every day that I’m in the studio - If it’s during office hours (As if that’s a thing when you freelance) then I should only be doing client work. I’ve convinced myself over the years that all marketing and admin should be done out-of-hours - it’s an unrealistic way to work. It might have been the only option when I first started freelancing and I needed to put in every possible hour but after 5 years, it’s become unsustainable.  

I’ve started setting aside time to market Headdesk during the working week, which admittedly is the first thing in my diary to be rescheduled if there’s a deadline or meeting but it’s a start. I believe that since I implemented ‘Marketing Mornings’ my business has run smoother and my relationship with Headdesk has become a little less bitter. I’m still working on overcoming the feeling of guilt when I work on Headdesk rather than client work but it’s a bad habit which has been with me for 5 years, so I don’t expect it to go overnight. Feeling guilty for spending time marketing is by far the most irrational mistake I’ve made whilst being a freelancer. It is important to prioritise your time for the good of your own business and not just for the good of your client’s business. 

Top Tip: Break up your day into ‘billable hours’ and ‘non-billable hours’. Work out how many billable hours you need to do every day to pay your overheads and yourself. Use that figure as a target and make productive use of the non-billable hours. That way you feel less guilty about the hours you spend on self-initiated projects and marketing. Plus, if you have a late night working one night then you can give yourself a break later in the week. You could even take a morning out to go in search of some inspiration!

Full article below from Computer Arts Issue #249 'Freelance: Power Up Your Skills' February 2016

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