Start Where You Are: An Introduction To Freelancing

Contributed article by Kylie Stolzfus. Kylie is a news correspondent for LNP | LancasterOnline and freelance videographer based in Lancaster City. Kylie is a graduate of Leadership Lancaster’s Core Class of 2021. In addition to the YPN Advisory Group, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Factory Ministries. Kylie is a senior at Millersville University, majoring in public relations with minors in government affairs and journalism.

As a freelance writer, I have written for local publications including LNP | LancasterOnline and Millersville University News to tell the story of my community. I have interviewed people who are making huge impacts in Lancaster. I have reported on school board meetings that last over 4 hours due to public comment and robust community participation. Through wedding filmmaking, I have the privilege of working with couples who are passionate about the life they are building. It is not uncommon to find me crying behind my computer while I piece together the most intimate moments of my client’s lives. These experiences are shaping my professional life and I am incredibly grateful for each opportunity that comes my way.

If freelancing is something you are considering adding to your plate, don’t overthink it. Seth Godin says it best, “You are already enough. You already have enough leverage. You already see enough. You already want to make things better. Start where you are.”

Here are few key lessons I have picked up to this point in my freelancing career:

You do not need to quit your day job. You do not need to quit your job to start making money with your side hustle. You do not need to change your entire trajectory just to test out another career path. Consider starting right where you are. Freelancing is an opportunity to hone your skills and expand your network. It does not require any more commitment than the next task asks for. You are in control of your workload, your future commitment, and the projects that you take on. Although some people quit their jobs and attempt to make it at freelancing right off the bat, there is a more sustainable and less drastic way to go about building your brand.

Your niche will be defined through practice. While it is essential to have a vision for your work, when it comes to freelancing, it is perfectly acceptable if you do not have that clarity right off the bat. You may have to say yes to any and all projects when you are just starting out; however, as you become more comfortable, you will start to identify the work that flows easiest.

As a freelance journalist and videographer, my niche could only be determined through the practice of executing work. As I do more freelance work, I know what projects work best with my style, I know which projects give me creative energy and excitement for my work.

Dedicate specific times of the day or week to your freelance work. In their book 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling make the point that leaders usually have no problem generating new ideas. Leaders are more likely to struggle with executing them. The remedy for this common struggle? Develop a system for your execution. Consider carving out time each week to focus on your business. This could look like one day a week dedicated to tweaking your client management system, answering emails, and engaging in admin work. It could look like three hours every Thursday evening dedicated to networking with local business owners and young professionals who may be interested in utilizing your services. Block time in your calendar for practical execution. Hold to it as though it was a meeting with a client. Consider this time a non-negotiable.

Cultivate your space. If freelancing is a side hustle, changing your environment can be crucial to continuing productivity. Find a space that allows you to focus on what you are building. Reorganize your desk, visit a cafe or consider subscribing to one of Lancaster’s many coworking spaces.

Coworking Spaces in Lancaster:

Remember it will be challenging, most good things are. Freelancing can present a massive learning curve. It forces you to reckon with elements of project management and administrative tasks that you might have previously relied on a team to assist with. Finding work-life balance can feel near impossible at times. Don’t give up when it gets hard. Don’t abandon ship when freelancing loses its shimmer. Seek help and support for the challenges you are facing as a freelancer.

You are not alone. Surround yourself with supportive people. Talk through your challenges with a coach or mentor. Build relationships with your peers and clients (you need your clients as much as they need you). Develop a network of people who will build you up and act as cheerleaders when you lose vision. Creativity cannot happen in a vacuum.