5 Important Tips Every Freelancer Should Know

(Last Updated On: June 29, 2019)

So, it’s safe to say Freelancing has well and truly taken off in Australia. As of October 2015 there were an estimated 4.1m Australian’s freelancing (vs 3.7m in Oct 2014). Well, well, well, it seems I’ve become a bit of a statistic. While I can’t speak for the rest of Australia, I can definitely shed some light on why I think freelancing rocks and 5 tips every freelancer should know before embarking on the free life.

First, let me take you back. Back to my first day back at work after my one-year vay-cay aka maternity leave aka THE HARDEST YEAR OF MY LIFE. There I am, it’s 7am, I’ve somehow squeezed my baby bearing hips back into my Country Road pencil skirt and I’m rocking a pair of heels to boot. The anticipation of returning to office culture, weeing in peace and having actual adult conversations is almost too much to bear. I ride that bus all the way to work and I ride it good. Taking all the time in the world to browse through Insta, re-apply my lippy and generally just enjoy the space out.

Fast forward to 6 months time and I’m barely managing. In between demanding deadlines, nothing in the way of family support and a kid that manages to contract inner-ear infections bi-monthly, I’m a shadow of my former self. I’m failing at work; I’m failing at home and basically failing at life.

It became evident to me that this lifestyle just wasn’t sustainable. I began to question everything. Is it even possible to work and be a mum? Should I just bite the bullet, quit my career and work at Coles? NO I thought. NO. There has to be a way. We fight for equality, demand choices but are then expected to work for the man rain, hail, inner-ear infection or shine. NO I thought, NO not me.

So, I took a plunge and launched my own freelancing home business, The Savvy Assistant. Basically, everything I was qualified to do but in a freelance space. Having never freelanced before, I was really thrown in the deep end. Don’t go in blind like I did. I’m coming up to my one-year anniversary freelancing and have a few pearls of wisdom I’d like to share with you.

important tips freelancer should know

1. Find your tribe

Freelancing rocks but it can be lonely. I find sometimes I’m so busy that I stay in my trackies, not interacting with the world till 5pm and I haven’t even noticed! So, find a tribe of people you can interact with and treat like colleagues. There is an array of wonderful Freelance groups available to you. All you need is a bit of alone time with you and Mr. Google and you will find your fit.

2. Learn how to say NO

It’s tempting when you’re first starting out to jump at any enquiry and take work on that’s perhaps not suited to your skill level. You know what? You got into this game to work the way you want to work, working on projects that you want to work on. Stay true to yourself.

Related: The Best 17 Tips To Be A Successful Work At Home Mum

3. Wellness is important

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Wellness? What, while you sit at home all day in peace? Sook!” Well here’s a little tip. I work more hours now than I ever have. Why? Well for one, the work no longer feels arduous, rather a creative space that I can fly in. Loving what I do so much makes it hard to switch off. The other reason, we’re SO readily available now! I have clients email me at 10.30pm and I have to fight myself not to reply. Enjoy the freedom freelancing allows you and take some time for YOU.

4. Clients are not going to come to you on a silver platter

“What do you mean?! I set up my website, I have an ABN, where the clients at?! “ Yes, don’t freak out but potential clients won’t automatically know you exist. You need to network and grow your contact list. You need to market your services and position yourself as a knowledge expert. Join Facebook Groups, make friends, grow your following and take the time to market YOURSELF.

5. Learning is a continuous thing

The world is faced paced and the need to keep up has never been so strong. If you don’t know something, that’s ok but make the conscientious effort to up-skill. Think of your brain as an investment. Every piece of knowledge you acquire will eventually pay off. Content is king and everyone has something to offer. Sign up for relevant e-newsletters, participate in a short course or undertake your own research. Just keep reading and keep learning, being schooled is where it’s at.

So, fast forward to now and here I am, in my PJ’s working, my son tucked safety in bed, literally pinching myself at the lifestyle I’ve created. Is it hard work? Yes. But you know what, it’s MY work, MY life and if my son woke up with a middle ear infection tomorrow, guess what? I can take the day to care for him, cuddle him and smother him with love. And that is what we, as women have been fighting for all these years. Freedom to live, love, work and BE. Just BE.

“Sometimes your dream job does not exist, you must create it.”


After having her son Oliver, Marissa took a leap of faith and started her own business, The Savvy Assistant. Marissa specialises in copywriting, marketing and social media management. Marissa is a self-confessed caffeine addict by day, wine enthusiast by night and a ‘sometimes’ fitness junkie. She blogs about social media and freelance life. Her free time is spent wrangling the cheeky but charming men in here, Adam & Oliver.

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  • Okay, this is seriously a great article! The fact that you suggest being able to say no and not just jump on every enquiry because you’re anxious to work – spot on! That is a tough one to learn, but so so important. I’m saving this to re-read later!

    • Thanks Cate! Yes I find it really tough to say no and its perhaps been my biggest learning so far. I find there’s projects that are really ‘me’ and projects that aren’t. Doing what you love will reap rewards far greater than the monetary kind

  • Kuddos to you first off for taking your life and career into your own hands. These are great tips, especially the one about staying well. Many times as mom’s, we neglect our own self, which is not good for anyone. Great article and one I will save to read later too!

    • Hi Mary, thanks for the kudos! It was a massive leap of faith but I believe the time was right and honestly I’ve never felt so professionally fulfilled. Mum wellness is SO important. You can’t care for others if you’re running on empty!

  • You have some great points! I’m a full-time blogger which includes doing some freelance work. Learning to say no was a big one for me. I’m a people-pleaser and don’t like to feel like I’m letting someone down, but I have to make sure I focus on what is important for my business.

  • 4 kids later and over 20 years at home this will be me soon minus the baby and the pencil skirt. I have been doing the same thing for so long I need to figure out what I should be doing!!

    • Hi Heather, wow 4 kids? You are my hero! Follow your heart always. Oh and I don’t rock a pencil skirt anymore. Gym clothes or leggings all the way! X

  • I loved your tips! I am not a freelancer, but I do have an online business and 6 young children. I think your tips are applicable to anyone who works from home and I can certainly relate.

    • Hi Terryn, thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad the tips were useful to you. I find it hard to remember to abide by them at times but I find I work better, am more creative and a better mum when I set boundaries x

  • I do thinking finding your tribe of buddies is key. I would go crazy if I did not have adult contact throughout the day.

    • Hey Amy, absolutely! It’s easy to get to the end of the week and realised you’ve had no ‘social’ interaction. Makes me feel a bit crazy if I don’t make an effort to get amongst it x

  • I am working on #1. I don’t really know what a tribe does. We started a FB group, but there’s really not much guidance, I suppose? Once you start the group, where do you go from there? #2 I have no problem with, but darn it brands don’t get mad when you say ‘no’, sheesh!

    • Hey Heather, a tribe can be anything you want it to be. A collection of professionals that you swap info with, a group of friends that you meet for a weekly coffee….anything. Start small and grow on what you have.
      Oh yeah, sometimes it’s best to say you’re booked out so they don’t get offended x

    • Thanks Anvita! Continual learning is a big one for me. Especially in this day and age. There are always new trends, new platforms, new strategies….I could spend my life reading! X

    • Hey Cassandra, oh same! Working + mum can be so cray and I’m thankful that I have the freedom to work around my family. Keep on truckin’. If all else fails, coffee X

  • #5 reminds me of what my dad always taught us. “Always be a student of your craft.” No matter what interested my sisters and I, we were encouraged to learn as much about it as we could and do it to the best of our abilities. It’s served me well in my adult life!

  • This is a great article! Learning to say no is so important that you’d think is common sense, but I can personally say it’s super hard. I did freelance designing work and I thought that it was great to at least get any paying job to rack up my portfolio but boy, did I regret that.

    • Thanks so much Yvonne. It’s soooo hard to say no sometimes, especially when you’ve got bills to pay! I find if I follow my instinct it works out. I’ve said yes to a few things in the past that I really shouldn’t have and it hasn’t been beneficial to me in the slightest X

  • Becoming a freelancer is one of the best decisions I ever made. I cant go back to an office setting it is now jail to me. Its so rewarding to make a living off of your real talents and your own accord. Great list and I definitely have a few Tribes!

    • Hey Kiwi, freelancing rocks so hard! I really don’t know why I waited so long to do it! The freedom, the ability to work on differing projects, being your own boss. Oh my, I could go on forever. Thanks for the kind words x

  • Freelancing isn’t something I’ve ever done, but this is all such great information. I think wellness is something that is really important and hard for all of us who work from home.

  • I feel that tip number one is certainly an important one. Often times, I look at the clock and realize that I have been shut up in my office all day and haven’t spoken with anyone. Now, I have many friends who are in the same professional field with me. We often talk to each other, and even help each other out!

    • It sounds like you’ve got a great little click to socialise with, sooooo important. Sometimes I start to feel a little off kilter if I don’t go out and make an effort with a tribe.

  • These are great! Working for yourself can be so rewarding yet it can get lonely and overwhelming! I always try to make sure that I dedicate time for work and time for no work so that I can give my 100% focus to what’s in front of me!

  • These are all really great tips and I agree with all of them, I am six months into being a freelance graphic designer // momma to two (third on the way) and can 100% relate. Really love the say no part, learnt that right off the bat that taking what I am qualified for and not everything that comes my way is WAY more valuable in the long run for myself and the client.

    • Absolutely Cody, if you play to your strengths rather than chasing the $$$ you’re bound to come out on top. Thanks for taking the time to comment x

  • Excellent tips! And I love your quote: “Sometimes your dream job does not exist, you must create it!” I think that’s the very heart of every entrepreneur!

    • Exactly right Roxanne. It was so true for me too. I basically listed everything I loved doing, who I wanted to work with, how I wanted to work and built my business around it. I’m still shocked I did it!

  • Since highschool I have always ventured into entrepreneurial side businesses. I remember I did the neighborhood newsletters for an HOA (got paid $150/month). Today even though I have a F/T job, I still have a creative business (blogging, book design, photo art) that I do. A lot of you tips I have definitely learned along the way of this experience!

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