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How to Successfully Ride the Freelancing Roller Coaster

Freelancing’s no joke.

This last year has been amazingly good. But it hasn’t all been roses. I’ve had my share of peaks and valleys.

Like most, I rather enjoy the peaks and I could leave the valleys. But it seems like the valleys end up teaching me the most – I learn more about myself, my business and life in general.

This cycle of successes and failures is a bit like a roller coaster ride.

Reflecting on my first year as a freelancer, I can say with certainty, it was one wild ride! Here’s my best advice for not only surviving, but also enjoying riding the freelancing roller coaster – arms up and all!

Buckle Up

As you get started on your own freelancing journey, I suggest you put on your seatbelt. It’s okay to feel it out to see if it’s for you at first, but eventually you’ve got to make a commitment to yourself and your business that you’re in it for the long haul.

More than anything, time will be on your side. The longer you’re in business, the more you’ll be found. For example, this past week I received two new inbound leads. When I asked them how they found me, both mentioned via Google.

That’s beyond cool.

I’ve heard that a website needs to be around (and actively be adding new content) for at least a year, before the algorithms start picking things up consistently. This is just rumor, since no one really knows how Google’s algorithms work, but I used it as a benchmark of sorts to keep moving forward and consistently hitting publish in order to add new content to the blog on a regular basis.

Keep Your Eyes Open

The best way to anticipate the fall (or decline) is to be as prepared as possible. To keep your eyes open if you will.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this in my freelance business, is to know what’s going on. Know my business’ numbers, like my business budget, PNL, etc so I’m fully aware of any upcoming large expenses or paychecks. Knowing your schedule also falls under this category.

If you don’t have a good grasp of what you have coming in and what you having going out (income vs. expenses), then it’s easy to get surprised when it comes to tax time, to end up in credit card debt or to just be spinning your wheels when you think you’re making progress.

Surprises can be fun, but not when they’re negative and of the financial sort. Know your numbers!

Take Photos

In addition to being aware and in the know with your business’ affairs, you should also take snapshots regularly and compare them to assess your progress over time. I do this in two ways – my monthly income reports and by keeping tabs on my traffic and social media stats.

On the first of every month, I log into all of my social media profiles, Google Analytics account, etc and record where I’m at. I look at my monthly traffic numbers, where traffic is coming from, my Alexa ratings and more. I try not to get obsessive about any of it, but rather just use it as a “temperature check” and record where I’m at to compare it to the last month’s results.

Am I growing? That’s all I really want to know.

I’ve been tracking my stats since July of last year. I plan on writing an annual review post about it coming up. Just like income reports, measuring these results is really interesting to me (must be that math brain of mine?) and I think others would benefit from analyzing the data too.

Tracking it monthly also allows me to know if my marketing efforts are working or not. If I haven’t been very present on a certain social media medium and my traffic reflects it, I’ll know. Or if the opposite happens and I’ve spent a lot of time on a certain platform that isn’t offering any ROI, I should make some adjustments to my efforts going forward.

Enjoy the Ride

Being a type-A, results-oriented person, I don’t always take time for reflection. But when I take a few days away from my business, it’s easier for me to do.

Since I know that working on my business is just as important as working in it, I do my best to schedule in time for reflection. It’s crucial.

So is taking time off (even if I’m not great at it yet). We all need to take a breath and bask in our progress and hard work. Building any kind of business is tough and that includes the life of a freelancer. After all, it’s the type of business that never sleeps!

In Conclusion

Freelancing is one wild roller coaster ride. It’s got its share of peaks and valleys, but I find that I learn more from the valleys then anything.

As you start your own journey, buckle up and commit to the long haul. Keep your eyes open and know your business numbers. Take photos and assess your results.

And don’t forget to sit back every once in awhile and just enjoy the ride – the journey and hard work that you’ve put into making your freelance business a success!

If you could choose any amusement park ride to represent your freelance business, which one would it be?

Photo Credit: Hash Milhan via Compfight cc

Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey


Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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