How Freelancers Can Find Work Life Balance
Frederik Daneels wanted more control over his life, so he turned to freelancing. Now he helps companies all over Europe streamline back office issues so they can focus on selling and customer service. In this freelancer Q&A, Frederik shares how he got into freelancing, his secret for getting new freelance clients, and his advice for how freelancers can find work life balance.
How did you get into freelancing?
I started working in a big corporation and after 6 years needed more freedom. The only way I saw how to do this, was starting as an independent inspector for flooring complaints (freelancer).
After 3 years working I realised that my agenda was full with deadlines to keep (set by others) and that I had even less freedom than before. So something needed to change. I started designing my life and shaping work around it to fit and support my life, instead of working and trying to squeeze a life based around my professional life, which was a total game changer for me.
Now, I am a full-time freelancer, streamlining business is my main income activity. Next to that, I share my knowledge on my website extrapaarhanden.be, which is one of the resources how I refuel my energy, by sharing and teaching some other perspectives on the freelancing life and how rewarding this can be.
Share the best client experience you’ve ever had.
One day a business owner, whom I have been working with for 7 months, came to me and said: “I am happy with the progress that we’ve made, you really have had a big impact on this company, but I would love to have someone like you full time in my service. In other words, I want to cut you loose, because one of the things you taught me is to not be dependent if that is possible, but I can’t” he said, “because I won’t find a profile like you.”
I looked at him, and told him that he shouldn’t look for profiles outside his company if he already has them in his team. He had an administrative person in his team, working 9 years for the company, who was exactly the person he was looking for. She had the mind of a strategist, the execution of a perfectionist and she was reliable. Any task you’d give her, she would make sure the task would be done, whether by herself or by others.
He gave it a chance, soon realised what an impact she had, not only in the company, but he could also notice how she took away worries that he would otherwise take home. She got promoted and is now running the place in a strong, powerful and yet empathetic way. And me? I am still on board, but more in the background, giving training and communication for those who need it.
What’s your advice for freelancers having trouble closing clients?
Don’t consider a client as someone who has to buy from you. Rather see this person as an opportunity to get involved and help him in his goals to achieve something. If you find yourself genuinely attracted to what the client is doing, sales will happen automatically. Make yourself a promise to not work free, but always ask for something, even if they just want to ‘test’ you to see if you’re the right fit. Tell them your time as a freelancer is your business and that you would be happy to show them your value, but would at least want to be compensated for the time you put in there.
How can freelancers find work life balance?
I call this one the freelance trap. As you start out as a freelancer, you dream of having an agenda full of work. Once you do get in that situation, you dream of having an empty agenda (somewhere) to enjoy some me-time. I’ve learned that growing is natural and comes automatically when you do things right, the hard part is controlling the growth so it doesn’t become an avalanche destroying you and everything in its way.
You can avoid it by making your freedom central. Make sure that you always have personal time in your agenda where you do the things that truly give you energy without costing a ton of money: this can be friends, family, hobbies, sports…
What’s your top growth tip for freelancers?
Be personal in your approach. Your biggest advantage of being a freelancer is that you are your brand. How you behave, how you communicate makes the biggest impact. When you make an impact, people remember you and talk about you. The word spreads fast and is the biggest accelerator for growth.
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Image courtesy Frederik Daneels