I started as a full time freelancer on August 19, 2009 and yes, I’m still alive and kicking and looking to better years ahead. I had a scary start primarily of financial nature, fear of the unknown and doubts of getting a work that can sustain our family’s needs (and wants). And nearly six years after that crossroad, I’m looking even more exuberant of the year ahead.

Let me share a few things I’ve learned as a full time freelancer. These are practical things that helped me survive the years, from family life, to work ethics, and social life which I hope will help you weather the valleys and rejoice in the victories too.

1. It’s a family business

I’ve learned that working as a freelancer is not a “you mentality” but it is and should be a family business. You are just working as the main character but in essence, your wife, your son or daughter has a big part to your success as supporting roles. They need to understand what you are doing in order to support you in little ways. My 2 kids know that when I put on my headset, they have to keep quiet because “George” is on the line. My wife knows that when I am slumping on my chair, I badly need a back massage.

2. Full time doesn’t apply to job only, but to the family as well.

It was a challenge for me to get over being an overtime father and switch full time family man. But when you get hold of the balance you will surely be more satisfied with your work, be more happy with your family and live a healthier life. My usual line when my wife tells me that I no longer have time for them is to say that all that i’m doing is for them (which is true). But of course, it’s not all about the money. Spending a few hours with the kids, teaching them their alphabet, putting them to bed and playing with them has become my goal to keep me sane and family oriented.

3. It pays to socialize

Social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as blogs are essential parts of freelancing. The first few jobs that I took were courtesy of my defunct blog “pinoyfusion”. My previouswork as a research person was because of comment I made to a blog. As you can see, these little things can mean really big in making yourself visible in the radar. Let the world know that you exist and that you have a special service that you can offer. Word of mouth can do wonders for your career. But as a word of caution, make sure that you know what reputation management is as well.

4. Be In the Know

I’ve learned that in order to thrive in this fast paced environment, you need to be able to cope with the influx of information, explore new things and enhance what you already possess. What I like the most about this is discovering new tools so that I can work more efficiently and more productively. It’s almost futile to reason out and say that we don’t know, because with just a simple click on Google search almost everything is at your fingertips.

5. Spend Your Money Wisely

Work can sometimes be so unpredictable and so is the income. As a freelancer, I’ve learned that our focus should not just be on the earning but also on managing those finances. It didn’t become a freelancer’s top concern for no reason. If we like to master our craft, budgeting will be the one of the most important lesson we should master next to time management.

6. No is sometimes yes.

This is the best freelance lesson that I’ve learned this year. Freelancing taught me that an opportunity to work with a prospect doesn’t end when you fall short in the interview or your skill is not quite fit. Opportunity actually ends when you think that business is only “TODAY” and there is no point in exerting effort to communicate with someone who rejected you. It taught me that business starts the very moment you decided to submit your proposal. Whether your prospect accepts or rejects at the first meeting, tomorrow is business as usual because you’ll never know when the need arises that you will become the perfect talent for what they need.

I hope you’ve learned something from what I’ve learned. I’d be glad to hear your thoughts too!