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4 Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Freelancer

Being a freelancer, you are the master of your own fate, the ultimate girlboss - OR at least that's what you think.

Workin' Girl

Getting into the business of freelancing has become sexier than ever because it comes with the idea that you get to be your own boss. Social media paints the picture that once you become a freelancer, there's no more clocking in and out of the office, being micromanaged by some control-freak, or rushing to get out of the office to make happy hour with your girls. On top of all of this, you get to work literally from wherever you want in the world (oh hey Bali, oh hey Jamaica), and look cute on Insta while doing it.

Being a freelancer, you are the master of your own fate, the ultimate girlboss - OR at least that's what you think.

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While being a freelancer does come with many benefits (yes, often you can work from wherever and be in control of your own schedule), the rewards comes with many risks and hard work.

Before you decide to become a freelancer, here are four women who share the top things that they wish someone would've told them about freelancing, and the things you should know before you become one.

Dalila Thomas

Freelance PR Agent, Journalist, and Founder of Starving on a Budget

On being a freelance writer:

Negotiate.

"This is something that many can expect goes without saying, however there are plenty of writers - honestly professionals of all sorts - that still don't negotiate pay. That's a no-no. If you've gotten to a point with a potential employer that you're in a room/on the phone/Skyping/etc. discussing pay, it means they want what you have to offer. If they see the value in you, you should be able to come to an agreement regarding your compensation. If not, it wasn't meant to be."

Plan.

"If you're freelancing full-time, it's very likely you'll be working on multiple pieces/projects at one time. While it may be tempting to take on a much as possible, be mindful - and realistic - about how much you can handle. When you compromise yourself, you compromise that quality of your work. Another important thing is planning out your pay. Knowing when you will get paid is crucial to your livelihood. Some publications allow you to submit an invoice immediately, others may pay you months later after the piece is published."

Know the rules.

"If you're freelancing with multiple publications and writing about similar subjects, make sure you're following rules laid out in any agreement/contract you sign. Many publications won't allow you to write about the same subject/subject matter for other publications until a certain amount of time has passed."

Follow her on Instagram.

Trina J.

Freelance Fitness Trainer

On being a freelance fitness trainer:

Don't be scared to talk about what you do.

"Work your network, ask for referrals from friends and even from your social media network."

Don't just post progress pics.

"Be relevant, provide value fitness content and tips on and off line to gain credibility and expand your reach."

Think outside of Instagram.

"Use LinkedIn. A lot of professionals in my industry ignore this platform. LinkedIn is where the professionals live that see the value in working with a trainer. Be relevant in this space, engage with people and work your connections."

Follow her on Instagram.

Quiana Darden

Freelance Content Marketing Writer

On being in the content business:

Never stop working on you.

"It takes a lot more than being an excellent writer to be a successful freelance writer. Between organizing projects, meeting deadlines, communicating with clients, and reaching out to potential clients to find new business, you have to ensure that your other skills are refined as well.

"You should always be a student. Maybe it's because I used to be a teacher, but I love learning how to improve both my writing and my business as a whole. Whether you invest in reading books, listening to podcasts, taking courses, attending conferences, or hiring a coach, you should always be learning about how to improve your writing skills and your business skills. There are tons of fantastic resources out there for you to take advantage of, no matter your budget."

Always keep the money on your mind.

"Run your business like a business. It's easy to find and accept writing jobs, but are they helping you reach your revenue goals? If you're taking on very low-level assignments that pay you next to nothing, yet you're trying to scale your business, you will struggle. Know your annual, quarterly, and monthly revenue goals. Know your required hourly rate and ensure that the projects you take on are pushing you towards reaching your overall business goals. That's the only way you will grow and sustain your business."

Follow her on Instagram.

Ashley Janelle

Freelance User Experience Design Coach

On getting clients as a freelancer in tech:

Be a boss in every area of your business.

"Do great work, be on time, and stay professional at all times. Many of the clients I get are from referrals, so it's really important to always put your best foot forward. Also, make sure you have a system in place for getting clients. When you have a client, you should always be looking for your next client so never get complacent."

Follow her on Instagram.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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