#BendTheRules of successful freelancing with these 4 tips, inspired by the 4 modes of the HP x360.
If you are a freelancer – I'm looking at you photographers, bloggers, designers, stylists, brand strategists, social media specialists, writers, event planners – chances are, the phrase, "So, what exactly do you do?" is one you hear on a regular basis.
Don't you just love it?
Not far behind is my personal favorite, "So do you, like, actually work?"
Contrary to our oh-so-carefully styled Instagram accounts, we do not spend our days lounging around the house in sequined gowns, sipping (and snapping photos of) gourmet lattes, arranging flowers and brainstorming which Instagram filter to use on our #célfie.
But I digress.
More and more people are forgoing conventional jobs to explore alternatives that transform their hobbies and passions into full-time careers. The allure to #BendTheRules is hard to resist. What very few people realize, however, is just how much blood, sweat and tears go into making dreams a reality.
With so many behind-the-scenes business details to coordinate, it's easy to lose motivation when it finally comes time to create. Here are four game-changing tips and tricks to keep in mind.
1. Design a workspace that inspires.
When designing my home office, I knew I wanted more than a designated corner of the house to help me balance a full-time job, an Etsy shop, a blog, multiple freelancing projects and personal projects like the #FOXYOXIEloveletters. I needed an environment that pushed me to dream bigger and work smarter – a workspace that served as a catalyst for taking my brand to the next level.
See, here's the thing: The majority of my waking hours are dedicated to working as a marketing professional in a corporate setting, and I love it – I truly do.
But as you can imagine, some days completing a menial task like taking a shower requires dedicated effort and inspirational talking-tos with the affected persona of a therapist, "Come on," I tell myself, "You can do this…"
Sometimes I feel like I deserve an award just for breathing.
That was back in the day when my freelancing was done from the comfort of my own bed. (Bad idea, I tell you!) These days I find myself gravitating toward my polka dotted corner, as if pulled by some invisible force, the second I step inside my home.
Melodramatics aside, the immense effect our surroundings have on our ability to focus and create magic, if you will, are undeniable. There are many ways to foster creativity in your workspace, regardless of how small or unattractive it may be. Start by establishing a place for every item; clutter, both physical and mental, is a creativity-blocking beast that quite literally needs to be put in its place.
Take advantage of natural light, which plays a huge role in productivity. If working next to the window is not an option, invest in a desk lamp – or two.
Fill your space with imagery that inspires, energizes and motivates – whether it's pops of bright pink, gigantic gold dots of glittery goodness, typography posters reminding you to "Get it, girl!" or a moodboard for when that million-dollar idea strikes.
2. Take small steps toward your ultimate goal.
Collaborating with brands like HP and producing creative and authentic content for the blog, all while managing a shop and taking on occasional calligraphy and design projects (not to mention that minor detail of a full-time job) requires revolutionary strategic planning and maximization skills. Sometimes weeks go by before I can muster up enough energy to take another small step in the direction of realizing my ultimate goal, but in the words of Confucius, "It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."
Similarly, do not take on every project that comes your way, or you will risk adding more checkboxes to your already overwhelming to-do list with little to no satisfaction in return. Your time and creative energy is precious; be selective in what you commit it to.
Learning when and how to say no was one of the biggest hurdles for me. Being the nice person that I am, I found it difficult to turn down friends' and family's constant requests to work for free.
Now, before you call me a monster, there's nothing wrong with taking on occasional unpaid projects to help someone out; after all, who chargers their own grandmother, right? But you have to ask yourself if taking on this job – however minor it may seem – is really worth the time and your sanity, keeping in mind that you're already dealing with very limited time as it is. After all, you will likely have to sacrifice a paid project in order to help out this friend or family member. Once, twice, even three times may be okay, but when you find yourself spending every free minute working on "favors" – it's time to reevaluate.
Once you've broken down your complex dreams and ideas into small, manageable tasks, it's time to pursue them one-by-one!
The HP x360 has the flexibility to #BendTheRules and keep up with all of my ever-changing needs. I can answer emails and craft upcoming blog posts in notebook mode, blast music in tent mode while I shoot the latest collection of FOXY OXIE art prints, practice hand lettering in tablet mode and Skype with clients in stand mode. My absolute favorite feature is its intuitive touchscreen technology – active regardless of which mode you're in.
HP is all about bending the rules; this month the brand is going across the states with Meghan Trainor's #ThatBassTour, providing 'Megatrons' (otherwise known as Meghan Trainor fans) exclusive coverage of the tour and a chance to experience the action in a way that has never been done before.
Follow #ThatBassTour for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of everything from hair and makeup to choreography.
3. Work less, and play more.
Seems a bit counterintuitive, but stay with me; I may be on to something.
When you are a self-employed creative, your success depends on your ability to come up with and effectively implement fresh ideas.
Ideas stem from a combination of personal experiences, so it would only make sense that to generate new ideas, one must continuously be exposed to new experiences. Take a page from Albert Einstein, who said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."
I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, whether to enhance your career, develop new skills or simply for personal growth. Find a topic that intrigues you (travel, anyone?), and devour every book on the topic. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone – whether in your daily routine, your clothing choices or even something as simple as what you have for lunch. Look for new sources of inspiration that provoke your senses and stimulate your brain to break away from the thought processes ingrained in your brain.
4. Befriend your competition.
I know what you're thinking.
"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer," right?
Oh sure, befriending fellow freelancers and creative types is a fantastic way to stay in-the-know about your industry, but even more import is forming genuine friendships with people who share in (and understand) your passion for creating – and the complexities that accompany it.
Instead of the typical I-win-you-lose attitude, find ways to collaborate, learn from each other, share resources, capitalize on each other's strengths, combine forces for projects you otherwise wouldn't be able to tackle for lack of time or skills, and most importantly, support each other – there is absolutely no reason why we can't all have a piece of the proverbial pie.
Do you have any questions about freelancing? Finding new projects? Establishing your own brand? Collaborating with other creatives? Balancing work and life?
Leave your questions in the comment section, and I will do my best to address each one!