Make Freelancing Full-Time Work for You
Your Network Is More Important Than You Think
If you're just starting out, who you know is really important. It can help get your foot in the door, especially if you are still at the stage where you need to continually look for new work, instead of work coming to you. If I'm unable to take on new freelancing work, I like to recommend other designers I know personally to try and help them out. Other designers will do the same for you. So next time they ask for a favour, do your best to give them a hand. It will come around.
Be Really Good at Something
Be an expert at something. If you are perceived as an "expert," you can start charging premium prices for your services. Having a reputation will help your leads understand if they can trust you, if you are worth their money and what it's like to work with you.
Be Confident Even When You Don't Feel Like It
If you start to have any doubts about your prices or abilities, potential business partners will eat that up. "I usually charge $70/hour, but if that's too high for you, we can take it down." Of course they will say it's too expensive because you don't even believe yourself in what you are charging! Pick an hourly wage and stick with it. You may have to adjust it to see where you get the best response rate (trust me, you'll get there eventually). That's part of the growing pains early on, just never show that weakness to your leads.
Save Some Money
I recently read Karen Finerman's book, "Finerman's Rules: Secrets I'd Only Tell My Daughters About Business and Life." One piece of advice that stuck with me was about saving money. She talked about having an "Eff You" savings account. If you are ever stuck in a job you dislike, you have the power and freedom to walk away and still feel confident that you'll be OK. Same goes for your freelance business. You will experience busy and slow cycles, but you'll still need to pay your rent. Be prepared for it.
Stay Healthy & Give Yourself a Structured Schedule
A lot of people tell me they would never have the discipline to work from home. I believe them.. because even for me, sometimes it's a struggle. I found that having a routine - which includes taking regular breaks, going to the gym and getting proper sleep is so important. Switching it up is also a good idea, like working from a different location or working on Saturday instead of Monday.