Well hello friend, I’ve been there. I hear you.
The good news is that freelancing could be the solution you’re looking for. In fact, introverts and freelancing can be a match made in heaven.
And with stats showing that freelancing is still on the rise, paired with introverts’ natural strengths playing well to the demands of the gig economy, this could be our time to shine. ⭐️
In this article, I explore how you can thrive as an introverted freelancer and explain the benefits and challenges you might face along the way.
But first, here’s my own introverted freelancer story
I’ve often felt that most workplaces seem better suited to extroverts.
Let’s face it, the people who speak up confidently in meetings and network with ease are more likely to get noticed and climb up the ranks.
I worked in corporate communications for many years, and while I was good at my job, I knew my introverted nature meant I was unlikely to be considered management material.
And here’s the thing – I didn’t actually want to manage people anyway. Shock horror!
Like many introverts, I knew I could make the biggest impact in the world when it was just me, my thoughts and my keyboard. But in the corporate world, that equation equals career stagnation.
As I hit 40, I realised there was no next rung on the career ladder without moving into people management. I was stuck. I didn’t want to be doing the same thing at 60, managed by someone half my age.
So in 2020, I walked away from the world of stable yet stagnant employment and launched myself as a freelance communications consultant and content writer.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a massive learning curve. But I don’t regret it. Not one bit.
The upsides of freelance work
If you’re skilled in what you do and there’s demand for your work, becoming a freelancer could make you the best version of yourself. Freelancers can use their skills to live a life they love.
Who doesn’t want that?
Here are some of the perks of the freelance career for an introvert.
Flexible work schedule
As a freelancer, you can work whenever and wherever you like, provided you meet your clients’ deadlines and expectations.
This means you can structure your workday to suit your needs and those of your family without adhering to a traditional 9 to 5 schedule.
You can create when you’re most productive, take breaks when you need them, and handle the admin when your brain is fuzzy.
Heck, you can even go travelling and take your work with you if you’ve got the means (and the WiFi). No leave forms required.
Ability to choose projects
When you first start out, you may have to accept most work that comes your way to build up your portfolio. But as you get more established, you can choose to work with clients and projects that align with your values and interests. You might call this your niche.
This means you get to keep doing lots of the work that lights you up. It’s magic.
Calm, focused environment
Instead of attending endless, energy-sucking meetings and navigating office politics, imagine working in a quiet home office where you can power through your work without interruptions or distractions. For many introverts, this is everything.
Of course, freelancers still have client meetings. But guess what? These meetings are usually enjoyable, productive sessions with a clear purpose and focus.
Say bye-bye to awkward ice-breakers and irrelevant team updates. Hallelujah!
Independence and autonomy
As a freelancer, you have complete control over your workload. You are autonomous and you don’t have to run your work past an army of internal stakeholders who want to leave a territorial mark on everything you do.
Working directly with your clients and ensuring they love your work is all that matters. It’s a beautiful feeling.
Freelancers can use their skills to create a life they love.
The downsides of freelance work
Freelance work is not all peaches and cream.
You’re now the boss, the marketer, the accountant, and the person who does the specialist work. It can feel overwhelming, especially in the early days before sound systems are in place and you can afford to outsource.
Here are a few of the biggest challenges to keep in mind.
For many freelancers, income can be inconsistent, and workload may fluctuate.
The first two years can be especially slow as you get established. It helps to create a budget and have a plan in place for the slow times.
Even if you prefer to work alone, it’s important not to go it alone.
Find ways to stay connected with other freelancers, such as joining online communities and attending training events.
Working as a freelancer requires self-discipline and motivation.
Creating a routine and structure for your day to ensure you stay productive is super important. Without a boss or colleagues to hold you accountable, staying on track is down to you.
Lack of benefits
As a freelancer, you’ll probably wave goodbye to corporate benefits such as paid time off and superannuation contributions.
Yep, you have to pay for these expenses out of your earnings. And if you get sick, you either have to work through it or not get paid.
For many introverts, myself included, blowing your own trumpet feels just yuck. But unless you already have a bottomless pit of connections, you need to get comfortable with self-promotion.
You might need to regularly promote your skills on social media, venture out to networking events, or create a website to showcase your work. You might even need to do all of the above.
Honestly, I still cringe at every self-promotional LinkedIn post I write. But I do it anyway because I know it brings me work.
Even if you prefer to work alone, it’s important not to go it alone.
Top five tips to get started as a freelancer
Freelancing can allow introverts to thrive in their career while staying true to themselves. So if you’re an introvert keen to give it a go, here are my top five tips to get started:
1. Determine your skills, services and ideal client – What are you good at, and what do you enjoy doing? Who is your ideal client, and how can you solve their problems better than your competitors?
2. Create a portfolio – Build a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills and experience. You can use platforms like LinkedIn, Upwork, or create a website to showcase your work.
3. Set your rates – Determine how much you want to charge for your services based on your experience and the value you provide. Research what others in your field charge to ensure your rates are competitive. Remember to factor in the costs of running your business including paying taxes. Many freelancers only pay themselves around 50% of their earnings.
4. Find clients – Network with people in your industry, attend events, and reach out to former colleagues and potential clients to find work. To this day most of my work still comes from people I’ve worked with in the past.
5. Start small – Success doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to build your business gradually. Try not to compare yourself to others in your field who’ve been doing this for many years.