It’s hard out here for a freelancer. Trust me, I know. Until you’ve established yourself, it’s a lot of sacrificing, settling, and sleepless nights. It doesn’t always have to be that way. The freelance life is what you make it. These four tips have helped me in making more sense of my career and deposit more cents in my bank account:

1 – Know your worth.

If you don’t know what you’re worth, you’ll accept what you’re given. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and drained your savings to establish your brand, why would you work for free or mere pennies? No, it won’t break you to give a little of your expertise here and there, but don’t get into the habit. When people see you’re willing to take what they offer, they begin to expect that. As a result, you’ll grow frustrated and miss out on opportunities that can be profitable for you because you’re too drained from working for chump change. Understand what you’ve invested in your career. Use that as your guide as to what you deserve.

2 – Do what you’re passionate about.

Think back to when you were a kid and your parent asked you to take out the trash. Like me, you probably thought of a million other things you could do with your time. But when asked to help make cookies, your enthusiasm to help went up a few notches. The same goes for the work you do. If there’s no interest it in, it’ll show with ho-hum results. If it’s something you have a love for or high interest in, people will see it in your work and attitude. People are enthusiastic about working with enthusiastic people. It’s your time, after all. Why not use it on what you enjoy doing?

 

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3 – Be open.

You should always have an idea of what your vision and plan looks like. Sometimes, life moves you in a different direction. The best thing you can do is be open. You never know where that can lead. I was invited to a Meetup not on my radar. I had mixed emotions and almost bailed out at the last minute. I ended up going. It turned out worse than I’d imagined, but I met someone who became a great connection and now we’re working on a project together. So be open to going to that networking event, to checking out that random magazine on the table left at the coffee shop, to talking to that stranger in the room. Be flexible and open to trying something new. You may end up walking into a pot full of gold.

4 – Trust your gut.

Lyrics by DJ Quik in his song “Dollaz and Sense” have stuck in my head since I first heard them years ago. “If it don’t make dollars then it don’t make sense.” When it doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions. No matter what you come up with, if it doesn’t sit well inside, then it’s not the opportunity for you. We can make ourselves want to do something to the point where it does make sense, but after it’s all said and done and it turns out to be exactly what we initially thought, you have to chalk it up as a lesson learned. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, use it as a guide to the next time you get that funny feeling in your belly. Before my debut novel was released, I paid for a blog tour. After talking with the host, my antennae went up. I didn’t listen because I knew I could gain from the exposure. When it was all said and done, I barely got what I paid for, even had to request a partial refund. I was told I’d still get the rest of my tour. Nearly two years later, I’m still waiting on those blog posts. Lesson learned. Instead of running after the buck or opportunity, run in the opposite direction. Your sanity and wallet will thank you.

At the end of the day, it’s the choices you make toward your career that makes all the difference. Know your worth, do what you’re passionate about, be open, and trust your gut. Hope these tips help you in making sense and cents in your life as a freelancer.