5 Ways To Take Care Of Your Wellbeing As A Freelancer In 2024

 In today's gig economy, self-employment, side hustles, and freelancing are often celebrated as pathways to financial freedom, career autonomy, and an ideal work-life balance. While these benefits are undoubtedly compelling, there is a less glamorous reality, especially in the early stages of launching a side hustle.

The allure of freedom and flexibility in self-employment can be overshadowed by stress and instability. Unlike traditional employment with a consistent income, gig work often lacks a steady stream of clients, leading to irregular pay and financial unpredictability. This can make it challenging to make significant purchases, plan a budget, or manage daily expenses and debt repayments. The pressure to secure clients and income can take a toll on both physical and mental wellbeing, leading some to reconsider freelancing altogether.

Before giving up entirely, there are five key strategies to successfully navigate the challenges of self-employment and maintain your wellbeing through this instability.  

1. Create Multiple Income Streams

Who said you need to focus on one side hustle alone? Why not create several? And if that seems too demanding on your time, you can still diversify your income through creating several "sub-hustles" out of your main side hustle.

For example, if you are a freelance writer, you could also create a training course that teaches others how to be freelance writers. You can provide copywriting services, create a custom GPT for writers, and you can even host a blog that contains affiliate links, for which you are paid for every purchase made via those links. So through freelance writing alone, you already have four sources of potential income.

Diversifying your income streams helps to buffer you for market changes, so that when or if interest wanes in one of your services, you are not left stranded with nothing else turn to.

Another way to diversify your income streams is to provide services that meet individual clients' needs (B2C) as well as corporate clients (B2B) which is usually where you can make the most money.

2. Have Emergency Savings

Before venturing out on your own as a freelancer, if possible, try to build an emergency financial cushion that you can fall back on in the worst case scenario. This helps to reduce the pressure so that you can concentrate on enjoying growing your side hustle. Ideally, plan ahead to have six months to a year of emergency savings available, and if you don't need those savings to live on, you can simply reinvest them into your freelance work.

3. Build A Support Network

One of the best ways to support your wellbeing as a freelance worker is to surround yourself with a network of like-minded professionals (ideally non-competitors). You can join LinkedIn groups, for example—or even create one yourself. You might also decide to join in-person entrepreneurial meet-up events, or for a change of scenery, work from a café or co-working space with other freelancers, to give you the same feeling of camaraderie that you would experience in a regular work environment.

4. Establish Boundaries

It's easy to get tempted to overwork yourself at all hours of the day just to acquire and work with clients, but it's essential to remember that doing this will only impair your health in the long run, and is not a sustainable way to work. After all, you did not quit a corporate life for this, did you?

So, create clear boundaries so you have hours reserved for sleeping, work-free self-care and relaxation, and having dinner with your family. Those hours are non-negotiable, except in extreme circumstances of course. Resist the urge to respond to clients at all hours of the day, and allocate time for each activity you need to engage in to make your freelancing successful—from networking, to responding to queries, to creating content, to delivering the service or creating a product.

And don't forget to set clients' expectations from the outset so they'll know when they can expect to hear from you.

5. Set Your Expectations

Although overnight success is ideal, in 99% of cases, that hardly happens. It's essential to reframe your mindset towards self-employment and set realistic expectations.

Instead of concentrating on achieving a six-figure income within weeks, define a realistic set of SMART goals, working in increments, and be patient with the process. Outline performance goals for yourself each week, month, quarter, and year, and take into account any market changes or seasonal shifts in customer attitudes, so your freelance career is more robust.

You might be wondering why an entire section in this article was not dedicated to self-care or meditation exercises. That's because it's easy to suggest mediation or to recommend going out for exercise, but that doesn't do much for your wellbeing as a freelancer if there's no money in the bank, if you're still worried about how to pay your bills, or if you're feeling isolated while working on your own. You need to have realistic expectations, create your own boundaries, join a network or co-working space, have a pool of savings, and diversify your income streams to effectively thrive as a freelancer without sacrificing your wellbeing.

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